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The International Bar Association has linked up with Lexis Counsel Connect as the provider of international on-line services to its 16,000 individual members worldwide.
IBA members in 173 countries will be able to use LCC's range of services, including email and access to legal databases, through their PCs.
The association's Simon Bolding says the main benefit for members is that it will allow easier communication between them. "This is a more cost effective alternative to faxes and post." It will also mean faster responses and discussions.
He sees LCC developing as a means of contact between the association and the members.
"We will be able to put bulletins out to members, to hold on-line conferences and have our databases on-line.
"We have been talking about doing something like this for some time," says Bolding.
The association began discussions with LCC after last autumn's Melbourne conference and completed the agreement recently.
The IBA looked at other systems on the market, but Bolding says "there were not that many to choose from".
LCC, managed by American Lawyer Media LP in partnership with Lexis-Nexis, aims to be the dominant global computerised network. It regards the link with the IBA as a step towards this, says Sally King, LCC executive vice-president and chief operating officer.
LCC has made rapid strides in the last year in the US. The network has grown from 3,000 members to over 20,000. "Three hundred to 500 members are now joining per week," King says.
In addition to the email facilities, specialist discussion groups and on-line seminars have taken off. The system has a "private area" which selected groups can use, in addition to its legal databases.
The cost of accessing the system is $15 per month, with IBA members getting one hour's free usage per month. It costs $15 per hour up to a maximum of $75, then usage is without further charges. Access is at local phone rates.
IBA executive director Paul Hoddinott says: "Through LCC's services and resources, the IBA is entering the era of computer on-line technology."