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A consortium of some of the world’s largest law firms, including Clifford Chance, has committed itself to developing a common technology platform for e-commerce products in a ground-breaking move in legal technology.The bid, first revealed by Legal Week in February, commits the consortium firms to developing a common standard for electronic dealrooms and other transaction-driven online products (Legal Week 1 February 2001).Firms involved include CC, Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz, Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, Morgan Lewis and Bockius and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati in a group of more than 40 firms.The venture also has the support of a major legal publisher, Lexis-Nexis, which stands to gain ground over its rival, West Group, if the platform becomes a true industry standard.The move is a victory for CC, whose chief knowledge officer Paul Greenwood was one of the prime movers behind the venture, along with Brobecks partner Richard Harroch.The common technology platform has been launched under the banner of Harroch’s legal dotcom, LawCommerce.com, which is regarded as neutral ground by about 40 major US law firms that have signed up for its services.The move represents a considerable coup for the consortium, given that many of the firms involved were last year engaged in what one senior observer called an ‘arms race’ over the development of deal-rooms and other extranet services.It follows the failure of efforts last year to get the UK’s magic circle, led by Allen & Overy, to agree on a common technology platform.Commenting on the move, Greenwood said: “There is a real need for a standard in the area. The answer is clear – collaboration among technologically advanced and progressive firms to develop a solution.”

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