For many of us, what we think of when we hear “American Lawyer Media”, we think of lots of print newspapers, magazines, The American Lawyer, and the AmLaw 100/200 lists. Bill Carter, CEO of the newly re-branded ALM, sees the tremendous value of the data that ALM collects much more than just the news articles it produces. When Carter took over the reins at ALM in 2012, he evaluated the company like a consultant, and determined that the best path forward was through consolidation of titles through the evolution of law.com; moving away from individual subscriptions to an enterprise model, and; focus on the wealth of data compiled by ALM and find ways to leverage that data as the path forward for the company. We have an amazing look into what ALM is doing these days and a peek at what Bill Carter would like to do in the near future.
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LegalWeek Crystal Ball Answer
This week’s Crystal Ball answer comes to us from Ken Crutchfield of Wolters Kluwer. Ken is monitoring all of the exciting legal technologies that are springing out of the AI explosion and who will be the winners, and who will be the losers as things shake out.
Marlene Gebauer 0:19
Welcome to The Geek in Review, the podcast focused on innovative and creative ideas in the legal industry. I’m Marlene Gebauer.
Greg Lambert 0:26
And I’m Greg Lambert.
Marlene Gebauer 0:28
With the recent release of the AmLaw 100 list for 2022. Our timing for bringing in ALM CEO Bill Carter couldn’t be better. We get a pretty good look under the hood of ALM is built describes what he found when he came in a decade ago. All of the changes that he’s guided the company through, and where he sees ALM in five years. He was very open and candid in his experiences with the company as it moved away from a majority print news operation to one that’s now focused on the power of all the data it collects. If you’re a legal information junkie like we are, you are going to love this discussion.
Greg Lambert 1:00
Yeah, I know I really enjoyed the discussion. Bill really let us take a take a big long look behind the curtain there at ALM so we appreciate him coming on the show.
Marlene Gebauer 1:11
Greg Lambert 1:11
So But first up, we bring in another legal week crystal ball response from another large legal information company executive. This time it’s Wolters Kluwer, Ken Crutchfield, who is monitoring all the exciting technology that is just springing up all around with the AI explosion, and finding out who’s going to be the winners and who the losers will be as things shake out.
Ken Crutchfield 1:39
So my name is Ken Crutchfield. And I am vice president and general manager of Wolters Kluwer legal and regulatory the legal markets business. So that’s a long winded way of saying that I managed the legal research portion of Wolters Kluwer in the US, I see so many technologies out here and so many exciting things, I think it’s really going to be interesting to see which technologies start to take effect and take a foothold. And recognizing there’s so many companies out there, which ones are really going to become the ones that are truly successful. That’s the part that I think is so exciting, watching and seeing all the activity here because there’s so much energy right now at this conference.
Greg Lambert 2:17
So do you see more consolidation, then? Or do you see more growth or number of
Marlene Gebauer 2:23
Like more breakout technologies?
Ken Crutchfield 2:25
So I think there’s going to be both I think you’re going to see winners and losers. And you’re going to see that start to play out in the next couple of years. And there’ll be some consolidation, no question about that. But I think you’re gonna see some new and interesting things start to come up, as you can start to leverage the AI the data that is being discerned and the information that is coming out of all of this content that’s being generated through AI technologies and other things. And it’s it gets pulled together, especially in like law firms where you’ve got the different silos to be able to make better decisions. I think when you get that next level of like 2.0, or 3.0, or wherever we are in that generational move, I think you’re gonna see some really exciting things.
Marlene Gebauer 3:06
Now, Wolters Kluwer is doing some interesting stuff, right?
Ken Crutchfield 3:09
I think so I like to think that.
Marlene Gebauer 3:12
Is there anything you can tell us about?
Ken Crutchfield 3:14
Well, I think we’re looking at investments more seriously than we have in the past. So I think as we think about Contract Lifecycle Management, that’s an area that we’ve made a couple of different acquisitions in different parts of the organization. And I think, you know, we’re looking at, you know, how do we become more serious about that in the US and in the legal and regulatory side of the business. So that’s an area that I think it’s interesting. We’re also looking intently at ESG as as much of the market and that’s an area that we’re very interested in, looking at partnerships and ways to grow and expand and introduce products to meet that growing and emerging need. Okay. Well, Ken,
Marlene Gebauer 3:54
thank you so much for joining us.
Ken Crutchfield 3:55
Thank you so much, Marlene, I appreciate it. Thank you, Greg. And it’s wonderful to be here.
Greg Lambert 4:03
Once upon a time, American lawyer media was a confederation of different regional print magazines, that they literally would send out individual postcards for renewal every year for their individual subscriptions.
Marlene Gebauer 4:16
I remember that. Now ALM has rebranded and the focus is much more on the data that’s generated in their gathering of legal information. We get to take a look inside Alm and see how this evolution is driving the company today.
Greg Lambert 4:32
We’d like to welcome Bill Carter, CEO for ALM. Bill, welcome to The Geek in Review.
Bill Carter 4:37
Oh, thank you. Great to be here. Appreciate it.
Marlene Gebauer 4:40
So Bill, you’ve had an interesting trajectory through your legal work. You started out as a software engineer, and then a consultant and you worked on an internet initiative with LexisNexis. You did e discovery at Epic, then you move to trade shows then Thomson Reuters and legal research. How do you think all that experience framed you as a professional?
Bill Carter 5:00
Yeah, it was genius move on my part doing all that? Yeah I know, it’s, you know, I think it’s funny that I think a lot of people always surprised that I started as a software engineer, and really, I was a product person, right? I mean, that was my job was how do I build products. I was at a research institution. So I get to build a lot of interesting products. For example, one of the entrepreneur who approached us the early days, his one of his planes, his friends had been killed in a plane crash landing at an airport. And it was before 3d cockpit displays and GPS had just come out. And he managed to get hold of it was only with the government. And we got to build a 3D visualization tool that was in the cockpit. So I got to build one of the first things the pilots see as they’re coming in for landing. So I really got good exposure, a lot of technology, a lot of products. And that really kind of continues to be my base. I think, you know, look, again, I not a lawyer, I married one. So that helps she answers all my stupid questions on the legal industry and teaches me every day on what’s going on there. But at the end, the parts that I most takeaway from all the job experiences was, there were a lot of different leadership roles, especially when you get to tradeshow logistics, and you’re leading 20,000 union employees that makes you think a lot differently about how you’re going to communicate from it, versus talking to an attorney. The other part of it, I would say, has been I’ve had quite a number of product failures in my career. And so you learn from those mistakes and I think that continues to be beneficial at ALM not but I still make mistakes. But I’ve certainly been able to learn a lot from it. And it’s helped self guide the last few years.
Greg Lambert 6:55
Well, hopefully, when you failed, you failed fast, and you moved on?
Bill Carter 7:03
Well, I know you’ve been at ALM for over 10 years now. And we’ve watched a lot of change occur in your tenure there.
Greg Lambert 7:12
So when you let’s say you jump on the elevator, and somebody asked what you do. How do you describe what ALM is today? And how has it changed from an organization? And in the time you’ve been there?
Bill Carter 7:27
Yeah. So my standard line that exactly what you’re asking there, Greg would be, you know, what does ALM do? And I say we are the trusted information, services, data, and media business serving both the practice of and the business of the professions that we serve. And we do it in four industries, legal, insurance, commercial real estate, and financial services from it. So what does it mean, right? We produce premium content, we have a lot of data that we brought forth, we have very valuable audiences are useful to our marketers, and we do a lot of connection between our folks at events. I mean, that’s really how we describe ALM today and these multiple verticals. It’s very different than 2012. When I came in, at that point, we are you guys certainly know it. And everybody else does, too. We were the well known kind of traditional media business, in the legal industry. We had 18 brands, they all operated independently, and either covered geographies, or segments. So Texas lawyer was a publisher, Texas lawyer, New York Law Journal and The American lawyer, you’re serving the largest law firms out there. But the other two are geography geographical base, the one segment base, and they all operate completely independently, they each had their own process for getting a newspaper out or magazine. And we didn’t have one login for all of the sites at that point in time. So it was really, okay, so great brands, but a very independently operating business from it. So the transformation, and it was mostly print, probably 75% print at that point and individual subscriptions. So the transformation we’ve gone through has been taking that media business with strong brands and changing it into an integrated business, again, has still retains the media, but it’s got the information, data components, and they’re all built on top of the strong brands. And if I look at it from legal, it really has been the biggest kind of product transformation has been law.com. And what we’ve done on bringing law.com to the forefront, and law.com being the global kind of brand, really serving enterprises. That that’s been, that’s been the big change. You know, certainly we’re in multiple verticals now, which we were not back then. And the verticals all connected by the professionals, we try to serve each protocol all dealing with risk, whether it’s taking risks, managing risk, or mitigating risks, that’s kind of the common theme. And we try to figure out how we can share assets between them. So the multiple verticals is definitely different piece. I would say what we’ve retained, though, is still that focus on “business of”, versus my prior employers in the legal space, were very focused on the tools to help you get work output. ALM has always had this mindset of let’s look at the business side, and how do we make our professionals more successful in business? And as we’ve kind of evolved over the last 10 years, that still remains kind of our core. That’s the mindset, we try to approach to new products, where our unique space is in the marketplace. And all of this, I just have to because you saw it, we talked about it legal week, we just rebranded the company. And rebranding was really because of this transformation, we dropped media in our name, we just became ALM, we really thought through carefully what our value proposition is today and what it could be going forward. And so we want to make sure getting the logo and then we rebranded and redevelop our website to get everything out. But it was to reflect hopefully, everything we’ve transformed over the last 10 years.
Greg Lambert 10:59
Interesting, why drop media? What was the reason behind that?
Bill Carter 11:04
Yeah, one of the people who still media is a core part of our business because it is the the means we use to collect data to interact with our communities and build relationships. But we’re much more than media now. And it probably gets into you know, a lot of discussion here today, we’ve moved much more into the data side of the business, the data that can support our professionals, and even also the information services offerings we’ve built and are building right now on it. So people when they hear the media, they think of old ALM from an it was a little bit say, still an important part, but we’re a much broader company now from it as we move forward.
Marlene Gebauer 11:41
So I mean, I think historically and currently, many of our lives listeners would associate ALM with intelligence. I mean, you’re talking about data. And there’s a lot of surveys that come out there’s different products that that ALM provides that they’re all about intelligence. Is that changing now with the new rebranding, you know, how and how has it changed, sort of since you came on board?
Bill Carter 12:07
It’s funny, I think, you know, it’s great to hear you thought, and your colleagues thought it is dated intelligence from it. I don’t think ALM totally viewed themselves that way when I got here. Oh, hey, we brought the AmLaw 100 in April, let’s move on. So it’d be a little bit of maybe insight on it, but it was just viewed as it was viewed from a very journalistic perspective back and interesting point in time. I think, probably, you know, what, what I brought to the table personally, when I came in ALM and we you hit on a little bit there at the beginning, Greg is I was a management consultant for a couple years. And when I went to Lexis I moved in into the strategy role. When I first came in, they had much more data than I realized I had known ALM since probably at Lexis 2000-2001. So I’ve known them pretty good for I thought 10 or 11 years and certainly know about all the traditional things. But then I discovered all the datasets that ALM had been collecting, you know, they had been tracking partner moves, lateral hire moves for 15 years or so. They had diversity metrics, headcount, they were keeping track, and where that was, and then we got to things like geographical locations. I think, again, that wasn’t viewed as data. But as a management consultant. My kind of first comment, I think it was in the first month as I’m sitting there learning about this, I said, Look, guys, if I were back in my old job as management consultants, Skadden Arps, hired me and said, tell us how to grow. Where should we go? I said, this is the data. ALM sits on the data that I want to start with from it. Because I’m going to want to look at my competition. How’s my competition doing we outperforming them or not? Where are they going? What practice areas are they in? Where have they been making moves and where they’ve been expanding offices? So I approached with this kind of management consultant mindset, saying, we need to start to think of ourselves as providing the information and data that supports strategic planning, operational benchmarking, business development and competitive intelligence from it. The Evolution has been from like, alright, we get this data, we put it on his journalist and we move on to… No, let’s now start to take that data and try to help people think through these major business decisions add value on it on top of that, so that that’s kind of been the change, I would say, since I’ve started.
Marlene Gebauer 14:24
So the data that you’re talking about, I mean, this is data that’s generated by the firm’s themselves, right? What other kinds of data are you, you know, are you using? Are you pulling to sort of enhance that intelligence footprint?
Bill Carter 14:39
Yeah. We’re doing it a few different ways. And some of it, you’re right, I guess you brought a sense the law firms are generating because even partner moves, right. It’s coming for the law firms, and we’re tracking through and all the different pieces. We probably, you know, on the law firm side, we don’t pull in too much different. But again, it’s a mindset to use. Let me give you part, for example, PACER data, how we approach it differently, I think, then than most others do. Everybody pulls down PACER data from it. But when we looked at it, that kind of this “business of” mindset, and where would we be different? Our focus was on this is business development. How do we alert to it new litigation opportunities, and not in the sense of two months from now want to go back and analyze what law firms won what business. It was a new case just got filed? It’s happened so quickly, Defense doesn’t even though they’ve been sued yet. So you, law firm had been trying to win this client. For this, here’s your chance to kind of, you know, to contact in house counsel, and say, Hey, we can represent you in this case. So we introduced RADAR. So now we ping the federal court system, and within 30 minutes when new litigation being filed, we have put out there here, here’s an opportunity for you to go after it. And we do three sentences, right we do. Plaintiff defendant, counsel representing plaintiff, counsel repping defendant, which usually says not filed not determined yet, then one or two sentence summary of what the case is about. And we say your practice area here, we alert you to this thing. Interestingly, this product got used on us. So we got caught up on a lawsuit closed captioning on one of our CLE classes we didn’t have and so hearing impaired person found it. We got caught up in a class action. One of the law firms saw our name and it was on there, they sent me an email and just said, Here it is. Here’s our experience with these types of cases, we get the stock for $15,000. I was like, Done! You got the job. So. So it’s it, you know that case, it’s a mindset of how to use the data in a different way. I think as we go now, a lot of it’s on the corporate side. And that will be where corporations are generating data that we think we can then be helpful to the law firms. So we’re pretty much more focused on that corporate side. So it’d be like corporate, what are the corporate budgets? How much do they use outside counsel for? We actually just getting ready to release a survey, which interesting was little corporate customers will sensitive to but their diversity metrics. And we’ve been doing their compensation benchmarking of some of their folks. So we’re trying to use some of that, you know, we’ll get some of that data, again, with a lot of support the business development side for law firms or charts, content information. So that’s how we’ll start to bring that into it again, with that kind of business development mindset.
Marlene Gebauer 17:53
And that seems that says real kind of open area, because oftentimes, you know, firms do not get that type of insight. And while there’s products out there for corporate counsel to sort of look into the firm’s a little bit more, there’s not a whole lot the other way around.
Bill Carter 18:08
Yeah, no, that’s exactly right. And so we have, we started, this is something new a membership program called global leaders in law, and it is for corporate counsel. And we’re getting them together and they’re giving us insights are actually starting to provide us some qualitative metrics on law, firm performance, those types of things that we can then come back to the law firms and provide. I would say, we’re just starting to tap into this. But I agree with you, it’s a fruitful, it’s a fruitful direction to go in.
Marlene Gebauer 18:36
And that’s anonymized?
Bill Carter 18:38
Oh, yes, it will be will be, I think at some point, we’ll see if we can get them to agree a little bit more broadly. But so far, on the anonymous,
Marlene Gebauer 18:47
like, if you pay a premium, we’ll tell you where you stand.
Greg Lambert 18:52
Well, Bill, you and I met up in legal week in New York, and we discussed a number of things. But we really talked about the you know, these types of data points and the practicality that they have for the industry. So how is it that ALM can leverage this data that that you’re collecting? And does this have practical application right now? Or is the data used more for prediction to be used later?
Bill Carter 19:23
Yeah, um, I would say, the executive team, and I tend to be pretty practical, I think, because we’ve been in the legal industry for so many years. And back again, all those product failures we had, there were so many things I think we all built, it would sit in market research and be like, Oh, that’s cool. We’d love to buy that, when it comes out and would build it. And then of course, it wouldn’t go anywhere from it. So I think we taken a pretty practical approach. One way I think we try to make it practical is is to go and go back to what I was talking about all that data that ALM had that I didn’t appreciate. We spent about five years aggregating and cleansing all the data and building product we call Compass. Compass has, you can go back and see 30-40 years of financial data, or a bunch of other statistics and metrics that we have on it. You can get that tool, you go look at the tool and play with it all you want from it. But I think the mindset we have exactly the executive team is how many partners, especially managing partners, or heads of practices really want to get into our tool and play with it? What they really want, right, we got to make it practical and useful for them. So one of the things we did about I think we started three, maybe four years ago, were these firm performance reports, firm reports, I think we call it now. And the goal was to give some actionable insights. So what we do is we do a 20 page report sent once a year, just as the AmLaw100, the AmLaw200 Come out with all the metrics. So we take kind of what we’ve been writing about all year on the farm and their strategic moves, hey, you open something a new center in Dublin, and you did this, a new office that you open along with the financial metrics, and we compiled these 20 Page reports. Now, probably for any firm the report on them is not that useful, though. Sometimes it is, which is interesting, because you would think they kind of like they know.
Greg Lambert 21:18
You’d be surprised what we don’t know about ourselves.
Bill Carter 21:22
But for the most part, it’s a competitive intelligence tool. It doesn’t answer all the questions that a firm has, but it gives them a starting point and then they can probe and start to look at the competitor in different ways off it. So we try to make that very practical there. Another way is we do market reports. I think we did one in San Francisco Bay Area last year and it went through and said here’s top firms. Here’s the market A chair who’s here’s baby’s been expanding, here’s what we see in terms of different rates, here’s what it is by practice area, all of those types of things. Again, it’s not anybody in particulars probably gonna want to explore further. And we’ve given them the data to do that. But our goal is to give you something practical that you can start to execute on. So most of its there, I mean, we do, there certainly are some predictive tools that can use a future. I mean, we have an M&A analysis tool, for example, in compass. So combined two firms, you can see your geographic coverage, you can start to see what the combined financials would look like, etc. But I think for the most part, we try to stay pretty practical with it. And again, this concept is like, how do we help people be better in their businesses?
Marlene Gebauer 22:30
So, Bill, you’ve hinted that, you know, the ALM is moving in a different direction, there’s a big focus on data. And you know, you’ve talked about you know, this M&A analysis, a few other things, it seems like data can actually be used to change the market that ALM is in. Explain to us, you know, how do you see data as maybe a different method for for revenue generation and profit?
Bill Carter 22:56
You know, I’d say, since we kind of went through this transformation, one of the things that really had us do was really methodically think through how we want to support our customers, it applies to again, I’m speaking a lot for legal, it does apply, and we try to use the same model, or others, but we have an information model now. And so our informational model has four components. The first is early awareness, and that is ALM is going to tell you that something just happened, we’re not gonna provide a lot of insight to you just, hey, new new litigation got filed, or new regulatory action and just hear it is. The second phase is global context and guidance. So that is, something happened or a series of things happens, here’s what it means to you, here’s a means to your firm. Here’s what means to your practice area industry overall. And that’s why I say law.com, we try to you know, one of the models I use internally is we’re the Wall Street Journal for the legal industry, that’s what global context and guidance is. The third component is engagement. So how do we help you engage with your peers? How do you help engage with, you know, people you might want to partner with or do business with? And then the fourth is strategic intelligence. So it’s back to this strategic planning and operational benchmarking. So we look at it as a close a nice circle where everything fits together data we collect one feeds into the next, for example, litigation filings, who got the business becomes something you can use in strategic intelligence all connects together from it, what it’s done for us in terms of new revenue models, etc, back to kind of ALM when I walked in, in 2012. ALM really viewed itself as mostly serving the individual, we sold individual subscription, right, and we work towards that. Now, we think about it on an enterprise level with that inter with that model there from it. So it’s led to us is we’ve much moved much more to enterprise subscriptions. In fact, the majority of our revenues now do come from the enterprises subscribing as a whole, with it being the whole package connected together, and people seeing the value of that. So it’s been, that’s been a very big transformational point for ALM has been has been that change in the revenue model from it.
Greg Lambert 25:08
Yeah. And you’ve been a lot more direct sales to from ALM to the customer. Now, we’re used to go through third parties, right?
Bill Carter 25:20
Yeah, third parties. We got here, we were still mailing postcards out, saying, Hey, give us your credit card. And we’ll do it in which, you know, again, back then I was actually, I was really surprised when I got into ALM just to pick on the American Lawyer. We looked at the largest law firms and how many subscriptions we had. And I was shocked by how few. But if you think back to it was the days of the people who would get it would be the partners who would expense it. They get the print copy, and then they circulated around the office from it.
Marlene Gebauer 25:54
Ahh, the routing list.
Bill Carter 25:56
Yeah, exactly. What was interesting is cyber shocked like, Oh, my goodness, what was going on here? We took a look though, at the Daily alerts that went out. And this one farm, I’m not gonna say the firm’s name. They had 20 subscribers to The American Lawyer. It was a giant firm. They had 1000 Attorneys, including the associates getting the daily alert on the American lawyer, but if they clicked on it, they hit the paywall couldn’t get through it. So really, our first step was to go talk to the librarians at some of those firms and say, Look, why don’t we get you a site license, the American Lawyer everybody wants it. It was easy everybody once they saw the data, realize what happened there and wanted to get it and so. Now what was interesting was when we went back and and we were going in to say let’s get you a whole license for the entire firm. I said, when asked about any print copies they want, you know, they want five, which print copies will ship on 500 print copies, not a single firm took a single incremental print copy. That’s kind of what started us down our path to where we are today.
Greg Lambert 27:02
You know, speaking of, of law firms, and I know you’ve collected a lot of data, are there any specific requests that you’re getting from law firms that say, Hey, we really want you to look into these areas? And and I’m really curious if anything has popped up, say over the last couple of years with much more remote working during COVID.
Bill Carter 27:25
Let me think about that remote working piece of it. We have gotten requests now kind of go back to it to that model. Again, if I use that, if I start with the early awareness with a lot of it being the litigation filings, we’re using PACER right now. So a lot of the requests have been like, can you get more state and local court from there, so we can see much more comprehensively what’s going on across the US? On the corporate counsel side, we’ve got a little bit of regulatory information, can you get us regulatory changes that are factoring into that? So we’re trying to think through how am I might do that, but a law firm side, it’s give us more information on more courts. So we can have pursue more business development opportunities. On the global context and guidance. So kind of going back to the Wall Street Journal for the legal industry. Most we get to request there, what is more global content. So one of the things we started, we launched law.com International, back in 2020. And put journalists in a number of countries around there. So you might imagine Singapore, so we can cover arbitration, we’ve got Australian reporters, we have one or two in Mexico. So we’re kind of just in Belgium, right? So we’ve kind of really put some people in key places, people have asked us to add more reporters there and keep growing law.con International, On the US side from the smaller in the markets, can we cover more of the states? Can we can we get in some of the states and give some more coverage of what’s happening there? So we’re looking at both of those. On the strategic planning part, the Strategic Intelligence, certainly global, people are wanting to get more information globally, as they think about you know, Hey, how’s Yeah, we might be happy to see how UK DLA Piper is comparing versus UK chambers. But what about firms that are just based in the UK? You know, where can we go there who might be M&A candidates, those types of things that data they would love to see in it. We are about to launch that can June maybe end of May a product called Mid-Market Pro. So if you think amlaw 200. And really, a lot of things are at the global 300. It’s, what about those ones that are 201 or maybe AmLaw, 750? And collecting more data there to kind of get insight into where might they grow? How are they doing? Kind of these other strategic planning and operational benchmarking questions. Those are places where we’ve gotten some requests to do it. We have gotten, you know, as you might imagine, I mentioned earlier about the law firms wanting more information from the corporate counsel to ask for the law firms are like, Hey, we would like more information on that to help us win business and make some more connections between.
Greg Lambert 30:10
Can you ask that question for us? Because we don’t want to ask our clients directly.
Bill Carter 30:15
We will try to that’s what we’re trying to do. So we’ll try to get that data for you.
Marlene Gebauer 30:20
So Bill, you you just referenced a large amount of areas where you’re starting to collect data. Are there any additional pieces of information or data that you’re not collecting yet that you’d like to be collecting?
Bill Carter 30:33
Yes. So we certainly got a lot of requests for data that people would like to collect. We’ve been trying to think we all love this. We’re trying to think one step ahead. And in an area we’re exploring, actually kind of goes back to the corporate side, which may be also relevant to the law firm side is, and it’s a fair question for LM. I mean, we are mostly business of law, do we start to move into the practice of law side of the equation? And what would that mean for us as a company? And look, there’s some very established players who are much stronger I certainly don’t want to take on as competitors. So we think about it in a different light and the area where in speaking to corporate counsel and in house where we’ve gotten some is, and this is a this is how they phrased it to us, which is something new has happened, a new regulatory action, a new law, a new litigation area is emerging. I got to come up with a response from my board. Before they come to me. I need to know it fast. So we’re trying to figure out what kind of reporting what kind of information and things can we gather that It is not meant to provide the full answer, it will provide some high level answer to corporate counsel, if they can go in and do that, then then of course, it becomes more, you know, something to dig into deeper or deal with, they can go hire outside counsel or go to other sources to do it. But that kind of gets access to a little bit of the practice of law side. And so we’re exploring right now, do we move into that? What would that information look like? And how might we use that as data could be something that would be a new area.
Marlene Gebauer 32:19
It’s interesting, because there’s been products out that that deal with like, legislative and, okay, you know, something’s out and what sort of the likelihood of it, you know, passing? And I think some of them actually did, like, sort of what it what it could mean to you based on your industry. And I’m wondering if maybe, looking at it from a regulatory standpoint, like you’re talking about, okay, here’s the high level, this is what it is. But, you know, also what it means, you know, what does it mean to me? You know, based on where I sit?
Bill Carter 32:51
Yeah, no, that’s exactly it. So it’s a, it’s a work in progress. It’s where I’m gonna spend even a good bit of my time, I’d say, with the teams over the next few months of flushing out because I think it might be a next big growth opportunity for ALM. Configure something out there?
Greg Lambert 33:07
Well, you definitely have a lot of moving pieces going on here. And speaking of growth, is this is this something and you and I talked about this in New York. Is this something that is internal growth that you start developing this in house? Or is this something that you start looking as it’d be easier to acquire somebody that’s already doing it?
Bill Carter 33:30
Yeah, it’s, um, we certainly can go both routes in many ways. For example, going global, we chose to do it organically and add our own reporters and things. But there are, there are some opportunities to acquire that would definitely boost us in terms of our coverage, in some of our data and intelligence side of the equation is from it. The corporate counsel opportunity, or I was using the corporate GC as an example in that last one about this practice law. It’s something again, we could build, it would take quite a bit of investment, there might be some opportunities to accelerate their growth through acquisition. So I think as we go forward, we’re going to be looking at both routes to go from. One of the things I think we’ve we’ve done well, and it has been a really big focus for last few years. And to your point, Craig, it’s got us to a lot of things now is new product development. It was something we had, especially new product about and Information Services in data that was a new thing for ALM to learn. And we’ve gotten that kind of down now and are building it, we hope to keep accelerating that it will be something I have to watch as a CEO is where we push it in too many places? What are the big opportunities? And then a lot of it will be is the best way to build it or to buy it, we’ll look at both things.
Greg Lambert 34:48
That’s why they pay you the big bucks.
Marlene Gebauer 34:52
So I in doing my research, I read that you actually do some advising for startups, is that correct?
Bill Carter 34:58
A little bit. Yes.
Marlene Gebauer 35:00
It’s like so so that that seems sort of very different from your sort of current role and what got you started and doing that? What do you enjoy about it?
Bill Carter 35:08
I think there’s, there’s a couple of things I enjoy. I’ll tell you one other thing I do outside which I found, I just put out a few weeks ago, I have a master’s degree, I was getting a PhD in artificial intelligence. So back in the late 80s, early 90s. Before it was either, it was neither as cool nor as lucrative as it is now. So, but I remained on the Georgia Tech College computing advisory board. So I get to, twice a year we get together, I get to hear about new research that’s going on at Georgia Tech. I get to spend time with students and then they have a entrepreneurial program that they launch there. So they’ll pitch business ideas, etc. And I applied a little bit outside of that environment, some more some that are actually in motion and kind of operating. The things I like about it are one, I love new product, I just I love the product. I love the technology, I understand it. So a lot of times when the entrepreneurs are talking, I can kind of relate to what I’ve seen or give some input Hey, by the way, I know this professor over at Georgia Tech, who might be able to get some input on that. So I love making those connections. I think be the part keep coming back so many times I failed. So many products that have not worked that I’ve launched,
Marlene Gebauer 36:25
What did I do wrong?
Bill Carter 36:29
I’ve gotten understand for better or worse in the legal industry, the different business models from it so I can I can give them some advice on like, look, here’s here’s the issue that you face. And I I’ll tell you what, I don’t remember who I was talking to years ago. And we both came to the conclusion that one of the challenges in the legal software space was at the $7 million revenue mark, I don’t know if $7 million holds true today or not right? But 10 years ago, that a lot of companies would get to about $7 million on transactional revenue. So law firms would hire him on an as needed basis, etc. But to get bigger, you had to turn into a subscription model, some kind of way, which meant you had to make your content really useful, really engaging, that people wanted to do it, maybe move into overhead as your expense, right? So a lot of that kind of mentality I try to bring to the startups try to say, look, I don’t you got to, this is what you got to do to get to that and kind of help them think through it. That’s what I, that’s what I try to bring to the table off of it.
Marlene Gebauer 37:37
Well, that that has got to be super helpful for them. I mean, you know, who wouldn’t want, you know, an advisor? Who, who’s had experience to be able to do that?
Bill Carter 37:46
Yeah, and I enjoy it.
Marlene Gebauer 37:47
ALM has been responsible for legal week, for a long time. And, you know, so what do you think, has been legal weeks most important contribution to the industry?
Bill Carter 38:00
Yeah, well, I’ll give you two perspectives on it. One is it keeps all the connections in the legal industry together. So that people I worked with 25 years ago. It’s like our annual reunion place and that networking component of it. And I actually do think that’s a critical thing that legal week does bring is kind of this networking, and these relationships over a period of time. I think it’s been very good. Again, kind of going back to the product side, kind of give you a story from my first time I went to legal week, I think it was it was like it was 2001, I was sent by LexisNexis. And we were looking at the practice management space. And I remember the person who presented the idea. So I’m in the business, I’m in strategy at that point, the person came in said, We gotta buy this company. He’s like, practice management isn’t over you guys. There’s one practice management company out there. I was like, Whoa, really? That didn’t seem right. But okay, I kind of believed him. And then I went to legal week, and I was like, wait a minute, for six practice. Practice Management, software companies here from it. So I needed arise, look, with legal weak back, then you get a good broad perspective of what’s happened out there. Things that are much more mature 2001, ediscovery was just starting. Now, it’s a much more mature industry. And you see its role, his change from the couple of companies that started in 2001, to where it is today. But it gives us a good glimpse into what’s next, and where things are coming. So I think legal weeks been good for that, too. And in terms of keeping me up to date, and what’s on the horizon.
Greg Lambert 39:37
And it’s, I know, as a non ediscovery person that attends legal week that there’s definitely, I mean, at one point, it was mostly ediscovery. And I would say even though there’s still a good contingent of ediscovery, just because it’s such a massive part of the legal practice, but there’s much more to that now than than just ediscovery.
Bill Carter 40:03
And we realized probably the eDiscovery dominance probably about six years ago, really start talking about and that’s what led to changing the formal name, although many of us, you know, say legalweek/legal tech, changing it to legal weak was realizing we needed to play a broader role rather than just kind of that focused and and then had been very conscious about making sure it covers a variety of different things.
Greg Lambert 40:27
Yeah. And of course, wasn’t it last year as it was legal year? I forget how
Bill Carter 40:32
That right, we did. Because we stretched out over six months.
Greg Lambert 40:39
All right, well, Bill, this is the part of the show where we ask our guests to pull out their crystal ball and give us a prediction of what you see over the next, say, five years or so. So you gave me an elevator pitch at the beginning of our conversation. What do you how do you describe ALM when you jump on that elevator and say the year 2027.
Bill Carter 41:03
Well, I’ll give it to you from a legal perspective first. And I’d say that ALM provides a global marketplace that facilitates the provision of superior legal services. So a very succinct statement with a lot of complexity in it. So what does that mean? So I’ll start with in house I mean, right. What we’re talking about is the buyers and sellers so it’s in house, corporations, and law firms, facilitating them working together in again, superior legal services, how can we improve legal services overall? So for our house, our corporation what it would mean would be ALM helps them learn about new trends, emerging risks, gives them some insight in what to do about it. Helps in house discover new approaches, new ways of operating to improve how they’re doing it. And then help them make better selections of outside counsel from there and give them the data and information they do it. So that’s, that’s very different thing that Allen says right now, we need to build out a lot of that. But that’s the corporate side of the market. On the law firm side, it sticks to a lot of how do we help law firms wind new business, make better decisions through analytics, research, insights, and again, connect law firms with customers and their peers and help them engage through that and in conducting business from it. So it takes our traditional law firm business, our emerging corporate business, and starts to link the two together in a variety of different new ways with again, our entire goal is how can make the entire system better going forward and help everybody improve from it. Part of the rebranding that we did was to give us the right to kind of expand into that area back to Ala media. It’s not really media there, we’re talking about some different things. That’s one reason we do it and rebranding, if our thinking about ALM overall, it’s that same type of model, but maybe broaden again, to risk professionals, people who are taking risks, managing risk, mitigating risks, how can we help them, in some ways, engage and give them more tools and information from it. So that’s, that’s what we’ll try and push over the next few years.
Greg Lambert 43:17
All right, well, Bill Carter from ALM we appreciate you coming in having this conversation with us.
Marlene Gebauer 43:24
Bill Carter 43:25
Thank you very much enjoyed it.
Greg Lambert 43:29
It was good to have Bill come on. I met with him for 30 minutes. So I actually kind of danced around the schedule while we were in New York. And we finally found a time that worked for the two of us and got together and I was probably like, two seconds into the conversation. I was like, we gotta get to the guy on the show. Because there’s, there’s just a lot going on. And I know, us as librarians and information professionals, we have seen the data that they’ve collected for a long time, but I think he’s right, I think a lot of people both internally and externally, still think of it as a media company. And seems like they’ve got a lot more cooking in the kitchen.
Marlene Gebauer 44:09
Yeah, so a couple points, like I’m not sure if people are aware, I mean, you’re saying we’ve been we know about this for years, it’s like so every year they present their their data at AALL like their annual data. And, you know, you you can go and listen to how it was, it was gathered and what they found. So I, you know, I don’t know if people in the industry know that. But you know, you send your librarians there, it’s like, you get that information. And, you know, the data geek in me, I’m just listening to the all of the things that they want to get more involved in, you know, more global information, more state court and just state information, more regulatory information. And you know, already, you know, my mind is just going in terms of like, okay, well, we can do this with it, we can do this with it, we can do this. So I’m really, really excited to see what what they develop.
Greg Lambert 44:56
Yeah, it’s gonna be interesting. And I think you’re probably gonna see a lot of growth. And I know you said, you know, it could go either way, as far as growth or acquisitions, but I feel like we’re probably gonna see some acquisitions.
Marlene Gebauer 45:08
Yeah. I mean, I was I was listening to what he was saying, and I was thinking I was already thinking of a couple companies that might be worth, it might be worthwhile. Maybe they been on the show before, I don’t know
Greg Lambert 45:20
Go see if you get a percentage of that.
Marlene Gebauer 45:24
Charge for my consulting fee.
Greg Lambert 45:26
There you go. Exactly. Well, thanks again to Bill Carter, the CEO of ALM for coming on the show. Appreciate it, Bill.
Marlene Gebauer 45:33
Thanks, Bill. And of course, thanks to all of you for taking the time to listen to The Geek in Review podcast. If you enjoy the show, share it with a colleague. We’d love to hear from you. So reach out to us on social media. I can be found at @gebauerm on Twitter.
Greg Lambert 45:47
And I can be reached @glambert on Twitter.
Marlene Gebauer 45:50
Or you can leave us a voicemail on The Geek in Review Hotline at 713-487-7270 and as always, the music you hear is from Jerry David DeCicca Thank you, Jerry.
Greg Lambert 46:02
Thanks, Jerry. All right, Marlene, I will talk to you later.
Marlene Gebauer 46:04
All right, ciao.