Every major U.S. industry, or so it seems, has announced that it is forming an electronic exchange on the Web. General Motors Corporation, Ford Motor Company, and DaimlerChrysler Corporation are creating a site to buy auto parts. Other companies have plans to develop online marketplaces for business travel, oil, gas, chemicals, and even agricultural products. (Get your pork bellies here!) The idea is all the rage in dot-com land: creating a place where buyer and seller meet and transact business.

So where is the site to swap corporate legal services? In England. In early February, a company called FirstLAW Limited (www.firstlaw.co.uk) opened for business claiming to be “the first and only e-market for live trading in the buying and selling of legal services.” The service is aimed at small to midsize businesses. In its first month FirstLAW matched ten clients with lawyers. The matters ranged from a mundane property dispute to a rights offering.