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The Internet may have fallen into disrepute in recent months, but Joseph W. Bartlett is certainly keeping the faith. A corporate finance partner in the New York office of San Francisco’s Morrison & Foerster with 35 years of venture capital experience, Bartlett, 67, is building a Web site, www.vcexperts.com, that he hopes will become the premier destination for information about his area of practice. And he is betting that the Internet will be the mechanism that transforms the way law is practiced, by forcing attorneys to become more efficient and to expand their offerings to clients. “I’ve seen in my lifetime this change coming,” Bartlett said. “And the Internet, despite the [stock market] meltdown, is an agent of change.” Launched last year, VC Experts attempts to streamline the venture capital process by providing entrepreneurs and businesses with access to abundant information, forms and advice from roughly 100 contributing editors. The site’s VC Library provides details on a range of subjects, from sources of capital and business plans to initial public offerings and strategic partnerships. Bartlett said he hopes that VC Experts will become the leading venue for distance learning about venture capital. The site’s VC University section offers roughly a dozen venture-related courses in interactive and streaming video formats. In addition to Bartlett, who also teaches a course on venture capital at New York University School of Law, the VC University faculty includes Richard D. Harroch, a partner in the San Francisco office of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe; lawyer and venture capitalist Phillip McCarthy; and Jay Trien, a senior partner in the New York accounting and consulting firm Trien Rosenberg Weinberg Ciullo & Fazzari. TRAINING VEHICLE For law firms, VC Experts offers the opportunity to conduct uniform training in venture capital work for a far-flung group of attorneys at a reasonable cost. Online courses cost $125 and video courses $89; individual site licenses, which include access to all of the courses on the site, are also available. Benjamin T. McLaughlin, a partner in the Sydney, Australia, office of Baker & McKenzie, said that his firm has used VC Experts to provide training for lawyers in its offices in the Asia-Pacific region. He recalled that Baker & McKenzie ran a three-day lecture series on U.S. venture capital law for 30 lawyers in Hong Kong, and then staged another for 40 attorneys in Sydney. “The feedback from both groups was highly complimentary of the content of the lectures and the mode of delivery,” McLaughlin said. “We have been delighted with the service.” VC Experts, which has to date sold about 600 individual site licenses to a handful of institutional clients, including Baker & McKenzie and a major consulting firm, is also in the process of becoming an accredited provider of continuing legal education credit. In addition, VC Experts acts as a link between entrepreneurs and the investors they seek by screening business plans and referring those approved to a community of angel investors. The site has associations with Deloitte & Touche, U.S. Bancorp, Fast Company and several university entrepreneur clubs, giving it access to a stream of early-stage companies. LAWYERS IN THE FAMILY Boston-born Bartlett seems to have been destined from birth for the law. A fourth-generation attorney, he graduated from Stanford Law School and clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren. In 1961, he joined Ely, Bartlett, Brown & Proctor, a Boston firm his grandfather founded. Active in Massachusetts Democratic politics, where he worked with such rising stars as U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Bartlett left Boston in 1967 for a two-year stint as undersecretary of commerce in the Johnson administration. (Politics has been an undercurrent in his life ever since: Bartlett is currently on the finance committees for Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer’s mayoral campaign and New York State Comptroller H. Carl McCall’s gubernatorial bid.) Bartlett got involved in venture capital in the mid-1960s in Boston, and a 1978 sabbatical spent teaching on the subject at Stanford only intensified his focus. He recalled the process of teaching venture capital in the heart of Silicon Valley as a “coals to Newcastle” experience. “You couldn’t miss it if you were out there,” he said. After Ely Bartlett merged with the larger Boston firm Gaston & Snow, Bartlett moved to New York to help open an office for the firm in Manhattan in 1980. He joined the New York office of Mayer Brown & Platt in 1991, after Gaston & Snow disbanded, and came to Morrison & Foerster in 1996. Bartlett continues to practice full time, and he said that the decline in the stock market’s fortunes has changed the nature of his work. Notably, the market for initial public offerings has evaporated, and mergers have become the exit strategy of choice for early-stage businesses. But he said that his faith in the technology sector is resolute. “This time there are so many people that have a little oar in the water that it’s like it’s the end of the world. But it’s not,” he said of the current downturn. “I think we’re on the verge of another leap forward in technology-based investing.” Bartlett also argues that the Internet will eventually change the way firms practice law, particularly in transactional matters. Inevitably, he contends, clients will demand that lawyers use the efficiency of the Web to expedite training and standardize forms and documents so that fewer lawyers will be necessary. Partners, he claims, will then be freed to engage in the sort of all-purpose consulting and business advice they currently eschew, and will make themselves more valuable to clients in the process. As for VC Experts, Bartlett said he hopes to find a loyal audience among the many constituencies involved in the venture capital process, from capital funds, entrepreneurs and angel investors, to law firms, consulting firms and investment banks. With only four full-time employees so far, the site has been rolled out slowly. But it is scheduled to be in full operation, with a roundtable of experts and an encyclopedia of venture capital, by the end of the year. WRITER ON THE SIDE As if a full-time law practice and a startup Web site were not enough, Bartlett has co-written a play, “A Signature Start,” that deals with a corporate player’s struggle to find a balance of selfish and selfless activity. The play was developed in workshop in Manhattan two years ago and now needs only a director to begin preparations for a full stage production, he said. Already the author of a treatise on law firms, “The Law Business: A Tired Monopoly,” and a series of textbooks on venture capital, Bartlett will hit the shelves again later this year with the latest installment in the “For Dummies” instructional series, “Raising Capital for Dummies.” At 67, Bartlett continues to work out every day. And, as a still-active rugby player whose most recent team just disbanded, he is searching for a new one, although he allowed that his days as an on-field elder statesman may be winding down. “The time, I think, is approaching when it’s no longer unusual, it’s just ridiculous,” he said with a chuckle. But he also said that he has no plans to get out of the venture capital business, and he has said in the past that he expects to die in the office. “Nobody retires from this business because something screwy is always happening,” he said. “It keeps you young. It really does.”

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