Law Technology News (LTN) is reporting this morning that LexisNexis (LN) will be reducing their headcount by approximately 500 employees in various locations in the United States. You can read the item here.  LTN is reporting that the statement was issued by Marc Osborn, senior director of communications for its Research and Litigation Solutions unit.  LN had not responded to my request for more information at the time of this post.

I wonder if this due in part to the adoption rate of Lexis Advance not meeting expectations?  I’m not aware of solid data on this point but I do know that Lexis seems to be experiencing challenges similar to those experienced by Thomson Reuters with WestlawNext.  I have some thoughts on this but will leave that as a post for another day.

UPDATE:
I just received this response from Marc Osborn at LexisNexis in response to my queries:

LexisNexis continuously reviews its needs, operations and other factors to identify what resources and services are necessary to optimally support our customers and improve business operations. As a result of this ongoing process, we regularly build teams in certain areas of the business and reduce in others to be able to deliver next-generation solutions to customers.

UPDATE #2:

Reed Elsevier is the parent company of LexisNexis.  A cursory review of the Reed Elsevier Interim Results for 2Q 2013 indicates that revenue declined during the first 6 months of 2013. The transcript of the quarterly earnings call to analysts also referred to a decline in growth at the Earnings per Share (EPS) level.  Although it would be interesting to see the effect LexisNexis had on these numbers, it wasn’t available at this time.  Unfortunately, it is common for businesses to reduce expenses in order to increase (or prop up) EPS rather than find ways to address the decline in revenue.  This is a temporary solution at best.  Depending how this is done, this can result in the business being ill prepared to meet customer demands or to keep their products fresh and relevant.

Image [cc] juhansonin

Dan: Recent reports of BigLaw staff firings got me thinking.

Jane: I hope you weren’t driving at the time.

Dan: Anyways … I came up with a brilliant idea for how law firms can reduce their cost structures. Everyone is always bitching (your specialty Jane) about how the cost structure of large firms is out of whack.

Jane: “Out of whack.” Is that a technical term?

Dan: Shut up you ignorant trollop. Back to my brilliant epiphany: Large law firms should randomly fire one-third of their administrative staff. Bingo – major cost savings.

Jane: Let me make sure I have this right. You actually were thinking, and this idea just came to you? Are you serious. Do you think most law firm administrative staff just sit around chatting? They were all hired for a reason.

Dan: Stifle your trap long enough to hear me out. I know some of these people might perform valuable functions, but it’s difficult-to-impossible to know which ones. The random firings will quickly determine which non-lawyers were valuable and which … weren’t. Firms can always hire back the ones they really need, since most of them will have a hard time finding jobs in this legal market. Problem solved!

Jane: That is wrong on so many levels. As usual, I struggle where to start in describing your idiocy. Let’s start with the practical and where the money is. If you fire the Billing people, no bills will go out and money will stop coming in. If you fire the Benefits people, your health insurance will be canceled since the bills won’t be paid. Shall I go on?

Dan: OK – the plan may have a few glitches. We’ll make sure to keep those two people. Or … wait for it … we’ll outsource their functions. Everyone knows outsourcing saves money.

Jane: It’s ironic how luddites like you fear the commoditization of law, but then jump whole-hog (pun intended you bloated bag of gas) into the commoditization of everything else about law firms. Apparently everyone, except lawyers, are fungible. Your arrogance blinds you to the fact that there are other professionals with valuable skills. As usual, you probably assume lawyers will be better at everything, so they can take over tasks when the admin staff is gone. I suppose your clients will be happy paying an associate to update your web site?

Dan: Trust me, there will be a significant number that won’t be missed, probably in IT and Marketing. So when the dust settles, the cost structure will be “fixed.”

Jane:  The real solution would be getting you “fixed.” Tell me you haven’t procreated.

I don’t know how I missed it, but last week, Jones Day laid off 65 IT workers.  Most of them were from my home town of Columbus, Ohio. [UPDATE: It appears the bulk of cuts were in Cleveland, not C-bus. Still Buckeyes though. 🙁 ]  As I began reading the article, my first thought was, “I told you.” But as I continued and I read the quotes from Jones Partner, Joe Sims, I started to regret the things I had written.  Had he or anyone at Jones read any of my posts?  Was I in any way influential in this decision?

Of course, that’s completely irrational and extremely arrogant. But still, the thought briefly crossed my mind. The quotes from Sims and Jones Day sound very much like things I have said and written.

“…we concluded we could do it better, faster and more effectively with a reorganized approach, and that reorganization didn’t require so many people.”  

“It’s basically a change from a local, personal touch to a remote-access basis for fixing little problems, and instead of having people literally on the ground…”  

“We have determined that a reorganized technology function will improve both the effectiveness and the cost of our services to clients.”

Shorter Jones Day: We don’t need so many expensive people to run things anymore.

Ouch.

Keep an eye on Jones to see if they quietly start picking up more IT people in the near future.  If they don’t, and they appear to be otherwise successful, then hold on tight, these cuts are coming to a firm near you soon.

But wait, it gets worse for IT people!

Edward Snowden (Hero or Traitor, love him or hate him) has not only drawn attention to nefarious government activities, he’s also drawn a lot of attention to Systems Administrators everywhere. SysAdmins rule the world. We have access to everything.  We can get into your emails, your private files, your super secret extra hidden browser history. And despite the occasional disgruntled outburst from an overworked and underpaid master of the universe, people generally trust us to keep our mouths shut and keep the company’s private information private.  Snowden ripped the poorly tied blindfold off and danced naked atop the NSA’s servers, shouting wildly about all of the confidential and private information stored there (mostly yours and mine).

In response, the New York Times ran an article in yesterday’s paper, asking the question that very few people have asked before now: “Can the I.T. staff be trusted?

Now, knowing what we all know about law firms’ aversion to risk and their lemming-like “follow the guy in front off the cliff” behavior, how do you think this is all adds up?

Image [cc] Global X

Thomson Reuter’s flagship financial product, Eikon, is turning out to be more like the Titanic after hitting an iceberg. According to reports from the New York Observer, Thomson Reuters has laid off around 3,000 employees, most from the financial sector, including sales, training and analysts’ divisions. In addition to these, it is also reported that there were also layoffs in the Editorial ranks, including big names like:

Peter Bohan, editor of Reuters America Service, has reportedly been let go. Mr. Bohan had been at Reuters for two decades, most recently as the Midwest bureau chief. Brad Dorfman, Reuters’s U.S. retail and consumer products company news editor, and Lee Aitken, who had been in charge of political coverage since 2012, were also reportedly let go from the company.

While most of the departures occurred at the managerial level, the majority of the Reuters TV team is out as well, after YouTube’s decision not to renew its one-year-old contract with the news service.

It’s not a good time to be an Editor these days, as Lexis has also recently announced the closing of the Matthew Bender’s Albany, New York office.

The Eikon product has already cost one Thomson Reuter’s CEO (Tom Glocer) his job, and hit TRI’s stock considerably since 2011. Plus, the Eikon flop placed Thomson Reuters on a list of 12 Companies that Could Go Bankrupt Very Soon. (Which caused us to write Could Thomson Reuters Be In Trouble? back in October 2011.)

The pain isn’t just being felt in the Financial Sectors of Thomson Reuters either. Anyone at Thomson Reuters with a good salary (this should include our friends at TR Legal) will feel the pain, too.

All Thomson Reuters employees, not just those in editorial, who make more than $100,000 will not receive raises in 2013.

All of these issues are pointing to a company that is struggling to pull all of its different acquired pieces together (think how well BNA/Bloomberg has merged, and then think of all the different platforms TR is still supporting.) It also seems that Thomson Reuters is not taking the market share away from Bloomberg in the financial market. It also seems to point to the need for TR’s Legal group to ramp it up and start bringing in more revenue and profits.

Those of us in the Legal Industry should be on the lookout for more sales pressure on the horizon.

Whether you like ‘em, hate ‘em, or just don’t care about ‘em… you have to admit that it has been an exciting week for the folks in Eagan, Minnesota. Let’s just step back and break down what happened this week:
11/16/2010 –  Major outage of Thomson Reuters online products (Westlaw, WestlawNext and more)
11/17/2010 –  Word of layoffs start coming in for members of the West Library Relations Management team.
11/17/2010 –  Turns out not just the West LRM team is effected… 60 total employees are cut.
11/18/2010 –  We get a letter from Chris Cartrett explaining the layoffs and TR Legal’s plans on moving forward.
11/18/2010 –  BARBRI sends out a letter announcing that TR Legal is exploring selling off BAR/BRI.
11/18/2010 –  TR Legal announces that it is buying Pangea3, an Indian Legal Process Outsourcing firm for $35-$40 million.
Now, we’ve been hearing mumblings all this week about the layoffs, and apparently, the 60 mentioned may be some creative accounting on the part of TR Legal. We’ll have to see once the dust has settled if it turns out that more folks were let go that may not technically count as “layoffs.” I also found it interesting that one of the comments that came out of TR Legal’s Scott Augustin, was that TR Legal is going after the one- to three-attorney law firms for its business. I wish my solo and small firm friends the best of luck on that!!
The news about the Pangea3 LPO purchase is one that may not have hit the radar of the mainstream law firm or law library world, but trust me on this… this may be the biggest news of the week, and it may have a ripple effect for months or years to come. Again, we’ll have to see what happens when the dust settles.
A friend of mine that recently returned from Greece, Tottie Keal (you may remember her as Tottie Degaitas) and pointed out a few substantial statements that Thomson Reuters made in its November 6K filing. The areas of concern are that:
1.      Print subscriptions are at historic lows (probably going to get worse)
2.      Law firms are watching expenses and are not using online databases that are outside of their contracts.
3.      It seems that Thomson Reuters had a sizable risk in the foreign currency market, and took a bath from losses in the British Pound and the Euro.
Here’s the section of the 6K:
For the three months ended September 30, 2010, revenues from subscription offerings, which include Westlaw and other businesses, increased 8%. Subscription growth was led by our international businesses which increased 14%, (including contributions from Revista dos Tribunais and Canada Law Book, which we acquired in May and August 2010, respectively), Intellectual Property which increased 7%, and FindLaw which increased 23% (including contributions from Super Lawyers, which we acquired in February 2010). Increases from subscription offerings were offset by lower print and non-subscription revenues, which each decreased 4%. However, the print attrition rate has slowed substantially from the prior year period and is nearing historical levels. The moderate decline in print also reflected that the first half of 2009 benefited from some favorable timing. Within our non-subscription businesses, revenues from trademark searches increased, however, we continued to experience double-digit declines in Westlaw ancillary revenues as customers continue to monitor spending above their base subscription contracts. In the nine-month period, subscription revenues increased 5%, while print and non-subscription revenues declined 10% and 5%, respectively.
Our operations are diverse and global in nature and therefore expose us to foreign exchange risk related to cash flows in currencies other than the U.S. dollar, in particular to the British pound sterling and the Euro.
In 2010, we implemented a program to mitigate our foreign exchange exposure by entering into a series of foreign exchange contracts to purchase or sell certain currencies in the future at fixed amounts. These instruments have not been designated as hedges for accounting purposes. As such, we recognized losses of $32 million and $4 million, reflecting the change in the fair value of these contracts, within “Other finance income (costs)” for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2010, respectively. The cumulative notional amounts of contracts outstanding at September 30, 2010 were $385 million to sell Euros, $227 million to buy British pounds sterling and $110 million to sell Japanese yen. These arrangements settle at various dates over the next 12 months and represented a net liability at fair value of $10 million at September 30, 2010, which was included within “Other financial assets–current” and “Other financial liabilities-current” in our statement of financial position. We may enter into additional derivative financial instruments in the future in order to mitigate our foreign exchange risk. See note 20 of our 2009 annual financial statements for additional information. (emphasis added)
Thomson Reuters is a huge muti-billion dollar company, so this is a little blip on the radar screen for them. However, for those of us having to deal with Thomson Reuters “Legal” group, these shakeups, layoffs, acquisitions, losses and trends are something that remind us that the days of dealing with our friends at “Westlaw” are long gone. 

As many of you probably know by now, there was a shake-up at the Thomson Reuters Legal (West) Library Relations Team where about half of the team was laid off. The changes at TR Legal went well beyond this specific team, but since many of us personally know some of the team, it was this transition that immediately caught our attention. When something similar happened back in January, Anne Ellis sent me an email explaining the decision and what the plans were going forward. I asked Anne yesterday to let me know about this round of layoffs, and she asked Chris Cartrell, Vice President for Sales and Account Management, to respond to my question. Below is Chris’ email and I am now sharing that with you.

Hey Greg,
I hope you are well. Anne forwarded your information request on to me. I am sorry that I could not respond yesterday but we were still communicating with individuals that had job changes. I hope you can appreciate our need to communicate with each individual before responding in a public forum.
I believe your specific question was related to our Library Relations team. We made some changes within our sales and account management organization this week which will help us better respond to the changing marketplace. And as you noted, the librarian relations program was not immune to the changes. We did create several new opportunities and positions, but there were also some positions eliminated. Library Relation Managers are a core part of how we service our clients – as are our reference attorneys, research specialists, account managers and sales executives. We have had to adjust our customer-facing roles to address the core changes the legal marketplace has seen in the past several years, while looking broadly at our work with customers to make sure we are providing excellent service and training as efficiently as possible. We remain deeply committed to fostering the library community through innovation, service, product excellence and corporate citizenship. To that extent, all of the recent changes in our service approach are intended to meet the changing needs of librarians.
The changes we made this week are centered in two areas: 
1) We have to utilize all of our resources to service our clients, and 
2) we must do a better job of servicing the growing branch offices of our clients. 
This week’s changes aligned our resources across the company to give us greater coverage to more firms and more librarians. Specifically, we have increased our dedicated coverage to branch offices six-fold. Our librarians have consistently requested that we assist them with more in-house training, e-learning, on-demand virtual support options, and greater support of branch offices. The moves we have taken this week help us achieve these goals.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any other questions. Obviously, these are difficult decisions, but we do feel that these changes allow us the best opportunity to service you better. We are working closely with employees affected by these decisions to help them transition to their next role, either with Thomson Reuters or outside the business.
(Please feel free to post this entire email via your blog.)
Thank you,
Chris
Chris CartrettVice President, Sales and Account Management
Large and Medium Law Firms
Thomson Reuters

[Guest Blogger – Janice Henderson]

Shocking news has occurred with the West Librarian Relations Management (LRM) team with major layoffs.  This was the second round of layoffs for the West LRM in less than a year. According to insiders, long time colleagues: Mark Schwartz (Director), Elaine Lee, Craig Griffith, Michelle Lucero and Erika Beck have been given their walking papers.  Anne Ellis and Lori Headstrom have missed this new development and are still employees of Thomson Reuters.  But for how long?

The question you may ask is why is this happening.  Is the answer purely economic?  I think the bigger question is what Thomson Reuters and to a lesser extent LexisNexis thinks about the librarian community.  The firing of the Librarian Relations Managers indicates that the companies feel that contacting librarians to purchase their products or maintaining a robust librarian relationship is no longer of value to them.

We are seeing this in Thomson Reuters sales strategies for WestlawNext. They are bypassing the librarians and going directly to the CEOs and COOs.  The best way to counteract this strategy is to have our executives push back and have the companies contact us as their experts in negotiating contracts.  If you don’t have this relationship with your COOs and Managing Partners, you need to start creating that relationship now or find your self looking in from the outside instead of being a vital part of management.

It took us years to earn the respect of our management teams.  But we seem to be sliding back to where we were pre-1990s. We have been steadily losing ground.  We lost ground in the 1990s when firms started putting IT Directors in charge of the library.  We’re losing ground in this decade as the Marketing Department is overshadowing us with business research.  In law schools Library Director positions are being filled by  non-librarians.  If we want to go the way of the Librarian Relations Managers, then sit back and do nothing.  But if you want to remain a viable member of the management team, you need to get up and remind them of your value.

This Week’s Elephant Post is:

Did the downturn in the economy give you an opportunity to ‘Rightsize’?

Why do we continue to tolerate slackers or unproductive processes? Come on admit it, you have some products, processes, employees, administrators, associates, partners, etc. that are sacred cows and do not carry their weight. Why do we keep them? In these times, we should be stacking the deck not slacking it. Did the downturn in the economy finally give you the ability to jettison the underachieving processes/workers, or are you still carrying them on your firm’s balance sheet?

We have one brave guest blogger that gives us an great perspective as a former law firm CFO about tolerating slackers in a down economy. We also have an Alternative Fee, Information Technology, Internet Marketing, and Law Library perspective of how the downturn enabled some rightsizing within the structure of each of these areas.

Next week’s Elephant Post question is listed at the end. Let me know if you’d like to try your hand at being a guest blogger (come on… you know you do!!)

Alternative Fee Arrangements Perspective

Size Doesn’t Matter – Shape Does
Toby Brown

From an AFA/KM perspective, success in the future is much less about having your firm resize (a.k.a. fire a bunch of people) than it is about re-shaping.  For me the term ‘Right-sizing’ implies cutting unnecessary people and services to correspond to a lower volume of work (brought to us by The Recession).  I feel the bigger opportunity here is to re-shape and restructure a firm to survive under new conditions.  As Darwin aptly stated, it’s not the fittest who survive change, it’s the most adaptable.

So for me the real question is: Are law firms adapting?  Are they reshaping to address a new environment?  The short answer: No.

At an ILTA session last week on KM and AFAs, one attendee asked the question to those in the room: How many firms have altered their compensation system to encourage and motivate new behaviors?  (Insert sound of crickets chirping.)  Finally someone mentioned firms going away from lock-step associate pay systems.  However this was dismissed (at least by me), since these new approaches primarily reward billable hours.

The Elephant in the Room on this issue is law firm compensation.  The response from the ILTA crowd is indicative of the profession, as I have heard of zero firms making bold modifications to their compensation, such that entirely new behavior is rewarded.  Absent a move like that: The Size diminishes, but the Shape remains the same.

It’s Not About the “New Thing”… It’s About Getting Rid of the “Old Thing”

Information Technology Perspective
Scott Preston



The economic downturn certainly spurred a lot of attention on improving processes, realigning resources and putting greater focus on projects that support the firm’s direction.  It also put a lot of pressure on resources.  Like everyone else, IT is being asked to do more with less.  Doing more work with less (resources, funding, time) makes it difficult to deliver the level of service already established.  When doing more includes introducing new technology, you are greatly increasing the workload for those involved in implementing the change.  And, you are also taking resources away from implementations already in place.




“The challenge of introducing the next “new thing” is not the new technology; the challenge is getting rid of old technology.”


Before implementing the next new thing, IT must consider whether we have the right resources to deliver it.  Can IT re-purpose our current workforce to support the new thing?   Yes, with time to learn new technologies and patience from our users, we can reshape IT as needed.  However, re-purposing IT resources assumes that IT is able to do away with older technologies.  This turns out to be one of the most difficult challenges.  How do you stop working on and supporting the current tools in order to design, deploy and support the new thing?  While we receive a lot of support for the movement toward the new thing, we struggle with the maintenance of our old systems, which has a negative impact on the entire enterprise.

“The cost of supporting old systems while introducing new systems with the same amount of resources is the cost of time.”

Most IT shops were already running lean before the economic downturn.  The downturn gave us an opportunity to educate ourselves and management on process improvement.  It has given us an opportunity to re-purpose IT resources for better business alignment.  Along the way, we have found a few IT personnel that did not want to be part of the new process.  For those few, time is limited (if they are even still with us).  With some patience, communication, support and opportunity, I am encouraged to report that IT is moving in the right direction.  It is a slow process, mainly because we need to continue to support the care and feeding of systems that are being replaced but have not yet been retired.  In this case the elephant in the room is not the new thing, it’s the old thing that we cannot seem to jettison.


Internet Marketing Perspective


Show Me the Money!
Lisa Salazar

For IMM, the essential response always “is _X_ driving traffic to our site”?

A huge proponent of measuring results, if  a product is not driving traffic to the site I am going to want to cut it.

Yes, there is some value in brand awareness, but when you are slashing to save, any activity that doesn’t give me some tangible return on my investment is not going to make it during these kinds of times.

Law Library Perspective
Greg Lambert

Tell Me… Is It Nice, Needed, or Necessary?

When the downturn in the economy hit the legal market, many looked at what we were doing and immediately started categorizing people, places and procedures in order to determine if they were really worth keeping.  Of course, even during good times, everyone says that they keep a close eye on their budgets to make sure they aren’t wasting money on programs, books, subscriptions, people, etc., but it takes a recession to really determine which of those is really necessary, or if it is merely another sacred cow that we keep around because we’ve always had it around.

For libraries, everything we spent money on fell into three categories:

  1. Nice – These were the things we have that are great to have around, but as the saying goes… “nice guys finish last.” Or, in this case, nice things get cut first.
  2. Needed – These were the things that would cause some pain to cut. Generally these products or people are favored by someone within the firm and get their protection. However, the longer the tough times persist, the weaker the protection becomes.
  3. Necessary – Here we have the products, procedures and people that fill a core purpose of the firm. Unless the recession turns into a depression, or the group that is supported collapses, these items are usually pretty safe.

When it comes time to defend items that you spend money on, you quickly find out that there are a lot of ‘nice’ things… quite a few ‘needed’ things… and not nearly as many ‘necessary’ things as you thought there were.

The bad new is that you know that you have to be honest and determine what can be thrown out. The good news is that everyone (at least the powers-that-be) also knows that overhead is going to be cut, and that anything remaining has to be defended. So, if I say that the alternative version of a  treatise on commercial litigation that we bought for a lateral partner because he or she didn’t want to learn how to use the version we already had has to go… it is up to that Partner to defend the product. Eventually, the Partner determines that it was nice to have this product, but not necessary.

The process of cutting overhead is not fun, but quite frankly, if we made everyone categorize products, procedures and people that we bring on during the good times as nice, needed, or necessary then we wouldn’t be in as tough a position when the bad times roll in. Recessions give us a chance to grow the backbone that we should have all the time. However, I’m afraid that once things turn around, you’ll find that having a backbone will turn back to being a ‘nice’ thing to have.

The “Reformed” Chief Financial Officer Perspective
The Biggest Elephant in the Room…
Michael White, Reformed CFO… Reborn as a CRM Guy
VP CRM Strategy, Client Profiles

“Why do we continue to tolerate slackers or unproductive processes?”
Non-Productive Partners…  Yes, we are going there.  From my experience as a former Controller and CFO for three AmLaw 150 firms, on every occasion “right sizing” or “belt tightening” was discussed the following occurred:
Each Administrative Department Head was asked to review:
  1. All key vendor relationships with opportunities to renegotiate additional agreement benefits; and 
  2. Most importantly, put forth their “sacrificial staff lambs”.  
Key Vendor Relationships:  Efficient organizations had already milked the final drop from these agreements, I know I did…  So, additional cost savings typically led to focusing on those vendors with variable costs associated with their delivery (Outsourcing groups typically.)  In general, these cuts led to known cuts in service to the firm and insignificant bottom line savings.
Staff Downsizing: The lambs identified were typically at the low end of the salary scale, playing a key fundamental administrative duty, which was right sized for their pay grade.  We would all offer up our team members to be made redundant with a plan to reallocate tasks, identify potential service cuts to the law firm and announce the “new” cutting edge Staff to Attorney ratios the firm would enjoy… with a heavy sigh, the partners would agree that these were difficult decisions, but nonetheless, cuts that needed to be made to run more efficiently… Hallway discussions among the Partners would go something like “finally the Administration Team was aligning with Partners” or “Finally, we are putting a dent in our overhead”
What was not discussed was the impact on the Admin Teams ability to serve their clients, The Partners… Having already cut their teams to the bone, redefined tasks, doing more with less, stretched to the point of breaking, the ultimate result was, great surprise here, less service to the firm and inefficiencies in supporting the lawyers to service their clients.  Leading to guess what, key staff exodus… but that’s another posting worthy of discussion.
So, finally getting to my point…  Non-Productive Partners.  All of the cuts mentioned above, would have been unnecessary, if the partners focused their attention on their brethren in the corner or near-corner offices.  The economics associated with moving out 1 or 2 Non-Productive Partners (and their associated team overhead) down the road would have had a much more significant impact on the bottom line.  Most importantly, without reducing the core services provided to the Firm in support of our greatest asset, the Clients…
Some Firms today are doing just that, focusing in on more granular financial analysis of the Firm at the Practice Group, Partner and Client/Matter levels of profitability, with very interesting findings.  Other “Strategically Managed” firms are taking action by investing financial resources in the Firm to make processes more efficient and providing tools to the lawyers to focus on growing the practice and, in turn, client revenue.  While investing, these firms continue to separate themselves from the competition and meet the financial expectations of their Partners; strengthening the foundation of the firm in the process, not tearing it away chunk by chunk.
In closing, from my experience, to “stack the deck” you need to flip the conversation to a top down review, starting with the Partners, looking the Elephant in the Room in the eyeballs.

Next Week’s Elephant Post Question:

“What is one of the things that you or your group does very well, but no one seems to ask for that service?”

This question springs from a basic question that I ask every vendor that is trying to sell me their product. I always ask “What is one of the best things that your product do, that your clients don’t take advantage of?”  It usually stumps them for a moment, but then a light bulb goes on and they suddenly point out a feature that is build in that would help the end user out, but they can’t seem to get the end user to take the time to use it.

Think about what it is that you or the group you represent has a talent for, but you just can’t seem to get the rest of your firm to see that they need. Is it because it isn’t as great a service as you think, or is it that it is over the heads of those that would benefit from this service?

We’ll do this all again next Thursday.  Email me and let me know if you’d like to take a shot at being one of our guest bloggers for next week.

As my good friend Jason Wilson told me a few minutes ago, “it is a sad day for legal publishing.” As we mentioned back in April, Thomson Reuters was shutting down its Banks Baldwin operations in Ohio and “after it closes, the work will be shifted to New York, Minnesota, the Philippines and India.”  Well, today, it seems that you can cross off New York and Minnesota from that list.

The TwinCities Pioneer Press reports that Thomson Reuters is buying out another 130 workers (“publishing specialists”) from the Rochester, New York, and Eagan, Minnesota offices. Since the Rochester office only had about 100 employees (AKA “publishing specialists”), it smells like the days of having editor staff in Rochester are numbered. What would really stink is if any of the Ohio folks that got moved to Rochester or Eagan this summer were on this current buy out list.

I guess the writing is on the wall for any of the legal editor staff for Thomson Reuters. Your job will soon be sent to Hyderabad or Manila. Thomson Reuters is getting more and more comfortable sending skilled legal editor jobs to India and The Philippines. I hope everyone that depends upon the quality (and pays a premium for that service) is just as comfortable as the decision makers at Thomson Reuters are… because it seems that eventually we are all going to have to rely upon that quality.

I’ve always said that the law firm world is one of “Monkey See… Monkey Do.” Turns out that the big legal publisher world follows that same mantra. If you look at a cached list of Lexis Librarian Relations Consultants, you’ll see the list has six names on it that don’t appear today. Seems that Lexis is following Westlaw (AKA Thomson Reuters Legal) in cutting the number of staff they have that work as library liaisons between the clients and the company. We reported on the cuts in the Westlaw Library Relations team back in January of this year.

Alright… this sort of cut doesn’t really surprise anyone (other than it took Lexis five additional months to pull the trigger trimming the group.) Times are hard… subscriptions are being cut… overhead is being reduced as needed… since these folks are considered overhead, it was probably inevitable that they would be given the ax just like their counterparts at West did a few months back.

I’ve got an email out to some of the remaining Consultants to see if they can put out a statement about the apparent layoffs.  One other little thing that caught my eye was the fact that on the “old” list of Consultants, Lexis didn’t list the Team Leads, but do on the “new” list. Perhaps to offset the length of the list as to not make it look so drastic?

UPDATE: Here is the response I received from Lexis on the re-alignment of Librarian Relations Consultants:

Carol Lyons Weber, Vice President of Customer Consultants at LexisNexis:

“As part of an overall re-alignment of resources to meet the changing needs of customers, LexisNexis has streamlined its team of Librarian Relations Consultants. 

The company remains committed to law librarians, and has expanded its diverse set of tools and resources to provide product training, continuing education and on-going customer support. We recently introduced a new Librarian Innovation Team, comprised of law librarians to provide feedback on development of new products and services for librarians, and the LexisNexis InfoPro online site offering educational programs which conveniently update, inform and interact with law librarians on an ongoing basis.

We are supporting affected employees as they pursue new opportunities – both inside and outside the company. Customers who will work with a new LRC will hear from our team within the next week.”