Is Bloomberg Law “Righting The Yacht” Or “Rearranging The Deck Chairs?”

Ambrogi: Bloomberg Law is
a "luxury yacht only partially constructed"
There was a flurry of “breaking news” around the legal blogosphere yesterday surrounding the announcement by Bloomberg Law that former LexisNexis CEO, Lou Andreozzi has joined as its CEO, and former LexisNexis COO, Larry D. Thompson was also added as Bloomberg Law's chief operating officer. You have to hand it to the marketing team that Bloomberg hired on this as they were smart enough to put this information in the hands of prominent legal bloggers like Bob Ambrogi, Monica Bay, and Joe Hodnicki, along with quite a few others – including an email sent to some of us here at 3 Geeks – and the news got disseminated quickly around all the social networks with great interest. [NOTE: For legal vendors launching a new product, or making a major announcement, you might want to steal a page from this play book.] Reading most of the initial blog posts, the news was seen as a positive step for Bloomberg Law.

Despite the cleverly crafted claim that former Bloomberg Law CEO Constantin Cotzias “played a critical role in shaping Bloomberg Law’s development and the introduction of the platform to over 90 percent of the top 100 U.S. law firms”, most law firms haven't exactly been blazing a path to replace Lexis or Westlaw with Bloomberg Law. Perhaps I'm being a little nit-picky here, but getting firms to take on a ‘free trial’ of the product isn't exactly the same as getting them to actually sign on to the product once the trial is over. In fact, the last time I watched a presentation of the Bloomberg Law product, I walked away with the impression that it was being pitched as a competitor to PACER more than a competitor to either of the Wexis products.

While I'm still in “nit-picky” mode, let me also point out that there seems to be a belief that it was a big coup for Bloomberg Law to get two big-wigs away from LexisNexis, but if you look closely, Andreozzi left LexisNexis in 2005, and Thompson in 2006. So, although they were big-wigs at LexisNexis, this wasn't exactly a lateral move straight to Bloomberg Law. Despite the half-decade apart from Lexis, however, landing  the tag-team of Andreozzi and Thompson is a good “first-step” in getting Bloomberg Law on track.

With the Lexis Advance for Solos release coming in at $175 a month, I'm wondering how Bloomberg Law and its $450 a month pricing for a very similar product plans to compete in this smaller market? If WestlawNext is also pressing into the smaller market at under $450 a month, then I can't see a scenario where Bloomberg Law has a chance in the small law market. Lexis Advance is supposedly launching mid and large law firm market products in 2011, and WestlawNext is pressing hard to move existing clients over to the new product (for a modest-premium, of course), so Bloomberg Law is going to have a fight on its hands in the mid to large firm markets as well.

It looks like Andreozzi and Thompson have a challenge laid out before them of bringing in a new product into the legal market at the same time that that duopoly are also launching new products. From what I've heard from others in the market in the past 24-hours, these two love a challenge. If that's true, then they are going to feel a lot of ‘love’ in their new positions at Bloomberg Law.

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Joe Hodnicki said...

According to textbook economy theory, a duopoly is supposed to invite competition. But after 15 years? And at the high-end of the market? BLaw is a curious development ... an extension from Bloomberg's financial industry base into law to compete with the Thomson-Reuters hook-up for the online market? Appointing some former LN execs signals that BLaw recognizes that it is not as an easy market to penetrate as Bloomberg first thought.

Greg Lambert said...

Was that textbook definition published by Thomson Reuters or Reed Elsevier?

It's a tough market to break into, and the relationship between the duopoly is intertwined with complexity (as was highlighted in one of the best blog posts of all time from Jason Wilson at rethin.k.)

Joe Hodnicki said...

I think it was a joint publication and was authored by Daffy Duck. I know believe the WEXIS sisters work as lobbists. Complexity has costs that don't however, apply to Members of Congress. See post on Bloogberg Government at http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/law_librarian_blog/2010/10/to-be-avoided-the-biases-over-reliance-on-expensive-commercial-online-services-can-create-when-they-.html

Erin H. said...

I do have to say that I am indeed a fan of Bloomberg Law. I know it is pricey, but it has rescued me many a time. I don't know if we'll subscribe after the free-trial, but I welcome the competition to Westlaw and Lexis.


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