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LexisNexis and Lawctopus, the most popular website for law students in India, announced a partnership this week to help LexisNexis understand and reach out to the law student market. In turn, law students will be recognized by LexisNexis for their top-notch content on Lawctopus.

It is easy to see the benefit for LexisNexis. Though Lawctopus is only four years old and has its roots in a garage as a hobbyist blog, it reaches 85,000 law students and employs college managers at 75 Indian law schools.

From Vikesh Dhyani (@vikeshdhyani), Director and Head of Marketing for LexisNexis India:

Lawctopus has built itself into a popular, trusted brand for law students in India. We would love to reach out to our young readers through their platform to get more insights on how to serve this segment better.

Lawctopus’ CEO, Tanuj Kalia (@legalpoet), sees the partnership as a dream come true.

Our content is crowd-sourced with the only incentive being the happy feeling you get when contributing to a community! With LexisNexis awarding and certifying our writers, we can surely look forward towards more excellent content being published on Lawctopus.

Is it a dream come true?

  • What is LexisNexis’ reputation like in India? In the states, though LexisNexis is taking to social to engage the legal community, there is not always a lot of love between lawyers and LexisNexis. What if lawyers and law students think less of you because of the partnership?
  • Does a partnership with LexisNexis limit potential work you may want to do with Thomson Reuters, Wolters Kluwer, or other companies? Such other partnerships may involve money coming your way, something more valuable than love for your contributing law students. The other companies may be potential buyers, if that’s something in your future plans.
  • Does a partnership with LexisNexis limit your views, transparency, and authenticity on social media when it comes to talking about legal solutions and products coming from the big boys? Just the perception of bias is death for a CEO or company employees on the blogosphere. Let alone how you are perceived at conferences and speaking engagements.
  • How much time will it take on your company’s part to execute on the partnership? LexisNexis is big with lots of employees, you’re small. Will your team members need to take time away from their core responsibilities to execute? How much?
  • Will you be perceived as smaller in nature than you actually are? Managers at 75 law schools and 85,000 law students using your site is nothing to sneeze at. Going it alone, though lonely and rough at times, may get you to where you are headed faster.
  • Would a partnership with a smaller, perhaps similar size, company make sense? Your bargaining position could be stronger and they may excited about doing even more for you.
  • What happens when the market shits or the partnership no longer feels right? How deep are things?

Hey, I’m not asking Lawctopus, in particular, these questions. I know little of the company and they look to be doing great things under Kalia’s stewardship. I’m asking myself, though LexBlog may be beyond the startup stage, and other emerging growth legal solutions’ companies.

I can remember where I was standing on the ferry 10 years ago when I was talking to a LexisNexis executive. I told him “this blog thing” is probably going to turn into a big deal.

I told him that if LexisNexis was going to play in the professional/business development space, they were going to need a professional blog solution offering. LexBlog could deliver and support, while LexisNexis’ sales team could sell.

Having sold a previous company to LexisNexis and working there during its integration, I had seen companies receive seven figure checks a year for such deals. With LexBlog at six figures, if that, seven sounded awful sweet. The monies could fuel my product development.

The problem was that LexisNexis sweet spot for a product subscription was $500 to $600 a year. Design and development cost me that much.

Rather than look at a lower cost product I knew what a law firm and lawyer needed for a professional blog solution. It was more than just getting a blog online. I wasn’t sure LexisNexis understood blogging.

Our philosophies were not the right fit. I was also scared such a lower cost solution wouldn’t work for the lawyers.

Armed with my credit cards and the moral support of my friend, Tim Stanley (@justia), co-founder of FindLaw and Justia, who told me that I’d be happier going without a partnership, that’s what I did.

LexBlog talks and works with partners today. Always with a view as to how we can add value to our network members and to our partner.

Like Kalia I get pretty excited about the companies we could work with. I see other emerging growth companies in the publishing and social space working with the big boys. It’s only natural to want to keep up and look for potential exposure and distribution channels.

I am blessed to have a senior team to guide me and LexBlog. I am confident looking at the entire situation that we can arrive at the right partnerships going forward.

Hope you guys with emerging growth companies in the legal space can too.