There’s an interesting article, Email Software Delves Into Employees’ Contacts, in The Wall Street Journal that discusses how more firms are using applications that mine email traffic and other contact information to infer relationships. Thomson-owned Contact Networks and Dun & Bradstreet-owned Visible Path are mentioned, but BranchIT is not.
I like these tools to help solve the “who-do-we-know?” problem. If you’re not familiar with this type of tool, there is a nice online demo from Visible Path that helps explain things. The best part about these tools is that they require no input from the lawyers. They need not submit contacts or even keep their Rolodexes up to date. Relationships are determined passively. The downside: some people just don’t like the idea of an application monitoring their email and other electronic activities. Apparently, these companies are slowly overcoming such obstacles: Contact Networks reports that “about 40 law firms, including Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP” are using the application.
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