The International Centre for Commercial Law
The International Centre for Commercial Law was launched on the net in September 1995. It is reckoned to be one of the largest non-academic legal sites.
The idea behind the Centre is to provide background information on lawyers, law firms, and commercial law within a large number of different jurisdictions. At the moment, the Centre covers 36 European countries; we will shortly be adding detailed information on South East Asia and Australia (as the Centre becomes increasingly global).
The information within the Centre is commercially-oriented. In other words, it concentrates on the commercial law sector (as opposed to family, criminal, and domestic work). We see our target audience as the business sector ? in particular, potential commercial clients.
What information is there?
The Centre aims to combine information on commercial law with information on commercial lawyers. In simple terms, there are recommendations for individual law firms for specific types of work. For instance, if you want an IP lawyer in Iceland, and tax lawyer in Denmark, a construction lawyer in the UK or a shipping lawyer in France, then the Centre can tell you which firm to go to. The independent editorial recommendations identify the specialist firms within the different jurisdictions.
At the same time, the Centre contains information on the latest commercial law developments. So, if you want to know about banking law developments in the UK, or litigation developments in Sweden (for instance) then you can get that free of charge from the Centre.
Where does the information come from?
What makes the Centre relatively unusual (at least, in terms of the net) is that it contains genuine editorial text that is given away free of charge. We all know that most publishers are still refusing the release editorial material into the public domain (because of worries about copyright, and lost revenue). However, Legalease (who run the Centre) have a different experience. This is because Legalease also runs the largest on-line proprietary network for lawyers outside North America (it is called Link ? and has some 7,000 users in the UK). For some time Legalease has allowed free on-line access to some of its subscription publications. The experience has been that people use the (free) publication on-line and then decide that it is worth taking out a subscription. Thus, the Legalease experience is that the giving away of valuable editorial material can actually lead to increased sales of the same publication. Which is why Legalease is not concerned about putting the content of several of its legal journals and publications on to the net, where that information can be accessed free of charge.
Who uses this information?
What we do know is that we have about 5,000 hits a day (fairly evenly spread between the UK and US). More to the point, we have heard directly from a number of law firms about new clients having been generated through the Centre. For instance, a Top Ten London firm recently reported having acquired new international work, as a result of the firm having contributed a legal briefing note to the Centre. That briefing note was read on the net by an overseas corporate counselwho subsequently instructed the London law firm to act. So, there are already indications that the concept of an International Centre for Commercial Law does really work.
But you do not have to be the corporate counsel of an international company to use the Centre! All visitors are welcome ? have a browse, and take whatever you like! The International Centre for Commercial Law is on http://www.link.org