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LegalTech NY Reports: new service for rating legal IT vendors

Here's the first of our reports on new product & service launches from LegalTech New York…

LegalRelay is a new online forum and community for legal IT users to anonymously rate and review legal technology vendors. The company describes LegalRelay as “like Amazon reviews for legal technology.” It claims to be the first and only resource for legal technology users to anonymously post opinions and experiences about the products and services they buy and use. Did the product live up to the sales pitch? Was the installation more costly or complex than you expected? Is the interface so confusing that your users can't figure out how to use the product? Has adoption exceeded your projections? Did you see the financial and operational benefits you expected?

According to president & founder John Gilman “The marketplace for legal software, technology and services is challenging for consumers to navigate. When law firms or legal departments are buying, it’s not easy to identify the best products for consideration or to differentiate between the capabilities of each one. That’s where LegalRelay comes in.” The company blurb goes on to say…

LegalRelay Resources for Law Firms and Legal Departments
• Read peer reviews of products and services to help decide which vendors to consider or buy from

• Anonymously post reviews of legal technology products and services
• Participate in an active discussion within the legal community
 
LegalRelay Resources for Legal Technology Vendors
• Opportunity to engage with prospective and current customers in an open forum
• Dramatically increase volume of customer testimonials, without need for marketing department approvals, showing how their products actually perform in the field
• Dramatically increase qualified leads and opportunities flowing into sales pipeline
 
For more information visit www.LegalRelay.com

Comment: Let users post anonymous reviews! How do you police against bogus reviews from competitors? How do you police against tame reviews that have been drafted by vendor PR departments? (Same problem with Amazon reviews where authors can review their own novels etc.) How do you deal with crank/loonie/aggrieved users? How do you avoid libel lawyers having a field day? As we know from the UK – where the English Law Society's old Software Solutions Guide, the old LOTIES Awards and the ILCA's Software Users Awards have all come in for criticism and suspicion – it is very difficult to prevent vendors from grooming their users to deliver positive reviews. Similarly, all vendors have some awkward users with unreasonable grudges and axes to grind whenever they get the opportunity.

14 replies on “LegalTech NY Reports: new service for rating legal IT vendors”

Hmmm, seems like this site (Orange) allows completely anonymous posts about products and services.
I think if you read the terms of use and check the site out, you'll see it's built with more protection than this site (Orange) where anybody really can post comments anonymously.
LegalRelay reviewers have to submit an email address with their reviews – which just isn't displayed. And if their comment is negative enough or fake (vendors falsley pushing their own products), I'm sure they'll take them down, just as Charles would do here.
Seems to me like this is a great place for people to go and express their opinions about the products they use.
There's a lot of really helpful information on Amazon reviews (yes there's a small amount of unhelpful stuff) and if this site turns out anything like that, it will be a great resource for the legal marketplace.

Because it would be impossible for someone to either:
Register a new email address
Make one up
They could only allow reviews to come from domains that are verified and trusted to be relevant reviewers, and make them confirm the address is real by mailing a link to them etc; but I would think there is too much overhead in the domain verification part for them to bother

Charles is right. Anonymous reviews are simply not trustworthy. In TechnoLawyer, we require contributors to sign their reviews with their name and email address at a minimum. Most provide their full contact information. This requirement doesn't cause them to hold back.

Domain/email verification ain't rocket science and should be employed for all the reasons given. Without something like this the site ain't worth the ether it's written in.

There's really no basis for a comment like “anonymous reviews are simply not trustworthy”. Like just about any sweeping generalization, it paints everybody with the same brush. And as somebody that's actually posted anonymously and honestly, I am disappointed that technolawyer suggests my reviews are untrustworthy.
I really do believe we all ought to have more faith in our peers in this profession, be they lawyers, IT professionals, vendors, bloggers, etc.
I'm simply not willing to trust no one to be honest or in contrast – expect everyone to lie just because their name isn't attached to a review or their email address hasn't been verified as coming from a specific source.
Most sites require you to sign up for an account before you can post a review because they are selling you something – like a technolawyer subscription. Since these guys don't actually sell anything to reviewers, it seems reasonable not to require an account be set up as a condition of posting a review.
The presumption that no check is being done on the email addresses submitted with reviews is also probably not true. Email addresses can be verified at any time – either in stream as the post is being made or after. It can be done systematically or manually.
I applaud these guys for not requiring you to create an account to post a review – it shows that they believe people will do the right ting and not abuse the site and I think that's a good thing.
One might conclude that they really are interested in getting feedback and not just collecting user accounts they can exploit for some other reason.
We all ought to be more supportive of somebody that's willing to create a community like this built on an assumption of good faith, not tear them down.
Maybe they'll be disappointed and people will post bogus reviews. I expect that if that's what starts to happen, they'll change their minds about creating accounts and validating email before a reviewer can post. As somebody pointed out, that's not hard or expensive to do.
But I, like these guys hope and believe that it's just not necessary. I believe that I work with a community of honest people in the legal profession that will post honest reviews of products.

For the record, TechnoLawyer membership is free.
Ignorance is bliss I guess, but you're living in a dreamworld. We regularly receive fake reviews.
For example, last year a vendor created two TechnoLawyer accounts using Gmail addresses. From one he posted a question. From the other he answered the question, posing as a user of his product.
We published the question. But the answer didn't smell right. Shills always give themselves away because they can't bring themselves to criticize their own products. Also, this person used the name of a pro golfer from the 1920s for one of the accounts. In the age of Google and Wikipedia, that was sloppy. Fortunately, we unraveled the plot and didn't publish the review.
Have you seen any negative reviews on Legal Relay? I haven't.

What's this? Informed, unbiased, sound opinions expessed on “the 'rag”, whatever next!!

When I signed up on your site, I was able to do so for free. However, the first time I tried to post a comment, I was required to buy points or something like it. So, while the membership is free, it was clear you wanted to separate me from some of my money to contribute. Nothing wrong with that, of course and maybe I did something wrong, so please do not feel like you have to defend your business model here.
I didn't suggest that nobody would ever post a bogus review on LegalRelay. And I'd expect that LegalRelay would exercise the same kind of rigor that you do in keeping them off the site. Just because they don't make it an obvious part of the posting process doesn't mean it isn't happening
If they don't and the site becomes a free-for-all for vendors to create a bunch of false reviews, LegalRelay will either stop it or the site won't last. But it's only been up for week forgoodnessake, and if smoking out fake revews is the worst problem they have to wrestle with, as you've described, that's an easy problem to solve and they'd be stupid not to.
As for your direct question I have seen some reviews on LegalRelay that while positive, also point out issues potential buyers should be aware of that are vaulable. And a 4 star review, pointing out flaws or issues, while still technically positive, certainly telegraphs that the product experience isn't perfect. At least two reviews on one product point out that it's hard and expensive to implement. Tells me that the product is good but not great and alerts me that I should explore those issues further if I don't want to spend a lot of time, money or resources and would likely cause me to explore an alternative to that product. That's really helpful.

Please note the above comment appears to relate to TechnoLawyer and not the Orange Rag – we don't try to separate anyone from their money. – CC

I'm sorry, but TechnoLawyer is free — our newsletters and TechnoLawyer Library. I don't know how else to say it. In fact, when you contribute a review or other content, we pay you. We certainly don't charge you for contributing.
If you posted your name, I'd reach out and try to help you, but since you posted anonymously there's not much I can do.

Thank you TechnoLawyer for the clarification – we're both free …CC

So, I signed up, logged in and did a search on matter management. Here's the message I got when I clicked on one of the results in the search:
“Reading Newsletters and Posts in the TechnoLawyer Archive requires a subscription. We offer several subscription options for the TechnoLawyer Archive, each of which includes an unlimited number of searches. You can purchase a subscription using a credit card, ViewPoints, or a combination of both. To purchase a subscription, please choose one of the options listed below, and then click the “Continue” button.”
The options ranged from a $25 1 week subscription to a $100 two year subscription. I don't know how else to say it, but that doesn't seem like free to me.

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