Over the weekend, I had a nice conversation with some of my peers in other law firm departments (Marketing, IT, and other administration leaders), about the American Association of Law Libraries’ (AALL) letter to Lexis, asking that Lexis cease their current sales requirement of tying Lexis Advance to non-related materials, including Law360, Lex Machina, print material, and other products. I think my colleague, Jean O’Grady did a great job covering this topic in her blog post, so I won’t re-hash the specifics of the letter. However, it is definitely an issue which those outside the law firm libraries should take notice, and be very concerned. This is something that affects the entire law firm, not just the law librarians.
The talent at Columbia Law School apparently doesn’t limit itself to legal scholarship. The Law Revue put together a musical rendition of which online legal resource is the best “to cite… to cite.”
Whether it is the bribery of using Lexis, the snobbery of using Westlaw, or the lone man that uses Bloomberg, the Law Revue walks you through the law students’ night of deciding which resource is best.
So pick up your Lexis/Westlaw/Bloomberg coffee cup and sit back and enjoy the show.
[Ed. Note: Please welcome back guest blogger, Marcia Burris, Research & Information Services Consultant for HBR. – GL]
A lot of attention has been given lately to the trend of law firms cancelling subscriptions to expensive online resources. This is often referred to as going “Sole Provider” since it has long been assumed (for a few decades, at least) that “good” law firms subscribe to both of the Big Two legal research providers, Lexis and Westlaw. In recent years however, many firms have decided they no longer need both. In an effort to measure the trend, law library surveys, including the one administered by HBR Consulting, routinely ask about whether firms are planning to (or already have) cut Westlaw or Lexis. However, while the term Sole Provider is easy to say and generally understood in the law library community as cancelling one or the other of these two services, it really isn’t the best way to describe current practices in the world of legal information, and in fact can cause harm to the conversation. So here’s why Sole Provider isn’t really a thing, and why I’m not going to say it any more.
- First of all, it isn’t true. Certainly not in Big or Medium Law, and probably not even in the vast majority of Small Law. No firm uses only one source for all its legal research needs. Cancelling one of the historical duopoly providers doesn’t mean attorneys will be limited to just one single source for all their legal research questions (although some attorneys may by choice return to the same well over and over again.) Law firms will continue to offer a variety of information resources – and formats – to meet their attorneys’ practice needs.
- Using the term “Sole Provider” needlessly reinforces the expectation of legal research Duopoly by implying that firms are choosing one and cancelling one, and fails to adequately describe the variety of different choices firms are making today. In doing so, it devalues the contributions of numerous providers beyond the traditional duopoly, whose innovations are creating new ways to think about and use legal information. This can cause real harm, as holding to the outdated duopoly concept hamstrings the decision process, limiting creative thinking about what resources firms should be offering to their attorneys and distracting from important discussions about new opportunities to evolve and modernize research services.
- In addition to reinforcing the idea of duopoly, the Sole Provider concept is often associated with cost reduction efforts, and this creates a value judgment which critics can leverage against firms (and librarians), no matter which way they go with the decision. Firms which keep both traditional major providers can be criticized for overspending, while firms which cancel a major service are criticized for prioritizing cost reduction over efficiency and service. (This reminds me of the working mom vs stay-at-home mom controversy – truly a debate with no winners.) Just as the duopoly concept narrows thinking about options beyond the Big Two, the question of Cut vs Keep limits the discussion to an either/or which fails to address the nuanced resource needs of individual firms, which ultimately drive their purchasing decisions.
- By referring to only a single facet of resource selection, the term devalues the important work law librarians do in carefully curating information collections to best meet their firms’ needs, and distracts from the question we should really be asking: What is the best mix of resources to meet our firm’s needs now and into the future?
It’s time to reframe the discussion. Instead of referring to “Sole Provider” decisions, let’s start talking about *Legal Research Optimization*. The discussion should include subpoints related to content (primary & secondary), efficiency of use and administration, attorney support, resource interrelatedness and content integration, cost, practice-specific needs, business needs, evolving technology, and client demands. Rather than allowing the status quo to set the tone of our discussions, let’s ask what should we include as we build the law library of the future for our firms. Firm needs and information resources continue to evolve, and libraries today have the opportunity to do more than ever before to support attorney practice needs. With the baggage of the sole provider conversation left behind, we can move forward and continue working to align information resources with firm needs, with freedom to explore the best fit for the future.
Okay… it’s Friday. It’s snowing in Dallas, and it’s a bit slow around the office. But, when I saw that Reed Elsevier was going to change its name to RELX, I thought maybe it was a joke to draw attention away from the black/blue vs. gold/white dress discussion. Apparently not.
I’m sure there was a big Think-Tank of Marketing Gurus involved in this decision, but on the surface it looks like it was a room of Gen Y’s that had never heard of the band Frankie Goes to Hollywood… otherwise, they would have seen snarky posts like this one… or this one… or this one, coming.
Not sure what CEO Erik Engstrom is trying to pull off here, but I think for the next few weeks, he’s going to catch a bit of ribbing for this decision.
Does R E L X stand for:
If so, then maybe those of us in the legal industry can RELX… I mean, relax. The RELX Group, plc became official on February 26th, with the official, and final move to the name coming on July 1st this year. The relxgroup.com website is already active. Quite Frankie… I mean, frankly, it’s a bit confusing.
As we find out more behind the decision to change the name to a four-letter acronym, let me leave you with some great lyrics to a great song, and see if Mr. Engstrom is up to make making it his intention, and keep scheming those schemes.
LexisNexis representatives are sending out notices that they are now the exclusive provider of The New York Times content for the legal market. For those of you that are keeping score, this adds to LexisNexis’ exclusive content with Factiva (which includes The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones News Service), and ALM content. It would seem that LexisNexis is doubling-down on the news content area.
Here is the message that went out earlier today.
LexisNexis® is now the exclusive legal information provider of The New York Times® content to the legal market!
This agreement extends LexisNexis’s position as the leading provider of premium news content to the legal market. Highlights of our unmatched collection of news and current awareness sources include:
- LexisNexis is the exclusive legal information provider of The New York Times content to the legal market.
- Law360® is exclusive to LexisNexis, providing breaking news and analysis.
- LexisNexis is the exclusive online third-party provider of ALM® news publications—including titles such as The American Lawyer®, The National Law Journal® and Corporate Counsel®—and the only provider of its publication news archives (more than six months old).
- LexisNexis is the exclusive provider of Factiva® content to the law firm market, offering access to North American English sources, including The Wall Street Journal® and Dow Jones News Service.
- LexisNexis provides more than 26,000 News & Business Sources from 4,000+ Publishers, with many exclusives, in over 150 countries and 21 languages.
The New York Times, as well as our other news exclusives such as Factiva, The Wall Street Journal, and ALM, will continue to be available through LexisNexis® Publisher and via our Moreover/Newsdesk product (releasing in Q2). Newsdesk is the only aggregator/monitoring tool that will be able to deliver this content in full text.
If you’re going to submit documents with citations to unpublished decisions to US International Trade
Court Commission Administrative Judge Dee Lord, you’re going to have to make sure it has Westlaw citations and not Lexis. In Judge Lord’s ITC Order [pdf] she ordered the parties to change the “incorrect” LEXIS citations for unpublished decisions and resubmit the briefs and reply briefs with WESTLAW citations.
The parties’ post trial briefs and reply briefs include several incorrect legal citations and citations to LEXIS databases for unpublished decisions, which are no longer available to the USITC. To ensure that the cited legal authority is considered, the parties are hereby ordered to review their briefs and verify the accuracy of their citations. The parties shall file corrected briefs, no later than February 14,2014, using Bluebook formatting for citations, fixing any errors in the citations and including WESTLAW citations for any unpublished decisions (including USITC orders and opinions).
Judge Lord joined the ITC Bench in September last year, and it would seem (and I am hoping) that this is her preference to how she wants briefs filed and not a larger trend. Since according to the USITC website [pdf, page 21], decisions can be researched on both Westlaw and Lexis, it would seem that both citations would be accepted by the USITC. However, the part in Judge Lord’s decision that says that Lexis unpublished decisions “are no longer available to the USITC”, may be driving this decision and thus creating an “incorrect LEXIS” citation.
This type of decision could mean that anyone submitting documents to the USITC would have to use Westlaw in order to submit “correct” citations. Let’s hope not!! Of course, it would be great if the courts would use a universal citation for their published and unpublished opinions, but that might be just too much to ask…
[Hat tip to Amy for pointing this out, and to Mark for getting me the USITC mention of using Westlaw or Lexis for USITC research.]
[Ed. Note: I incorrectly referred to the ITC as International Trade Court. I should have said International Trade Commission. – GL 2/15/2014]
|Image [cc] Scazon|
The year started out with a trio of mergers in the legal information field when Thomson Reuters announced it was acquiring PLC, and Learnlive, and LexisNexis announced it was acquiring Knowledge Mosaic. The activity tappered off a bit after that initial first week flurry, but there have been a number of mergers, acquisitions and partnerships throughout 2013 and we thought we’d review what has changed this year.
- LexisNexis Acquires Knowledge Mosaic – Jan 2013
- Thomson Reuters (TR) Acquires PLC – Jan 2013
- TR Acquires LearnLive – Jan 2013
- TR and CQ Roll Call Alliance – Jan 2013
- Lexis Acquires 55 Titles from Oxford University Press – Mar 2013
- LexisNexis Acquires Sheshunoff and A.S. Pratt – May 2013
- IntApp Acquires DTE Axiom – June 2013
- Hein and Fastcase Announce Publishing Partnership – July 2013
- TransUnion Acquires TLO – Nov 2013
- Mergermarket sold to BC Partners – Nov 2013
- Sirsi Acquires EOS – Nov 2013
I’m sure we’ve missed a few other activities that happened in 2013. Feel free to add those in the comments.
Let’s see what 2014 brings in the great shrinkage of legal information providers.
This post originally appeared on the LexisNexis UK Future of Law Blog under the title Stealing the market: The degree that now has infinite value.
|Image [cc] – doozle|
On 17 October I saw Daniel B. Rodriguez, Dean of the Northwestern University School of Law, speak at the ARK Knowledge Management in the Legal Profession conference. His presentation explained how some of the challenges that we are experiencing in law firms have trickled down to the law schools, and he gave some examples of how they are adjusting their approach and curricula to better prepare their students for the “new normal”. One of the solutions he described was partnering with other schools to provide joint degrees. Since the economic downturn, Northwestern has reduced the number of traditional JD-only students, but has increased the size of their JD/MBA dual degree program. He also expressed an interest in partnering with a medical school to develop a JD/MD curriculum, and he made a passing mention of possibly doing something with “the humanities”.
I wholeheartedly applaud the joint degree approach. In my opinion, there is a severe lack of basic business understanding among lawyers. The fact that the phrase “not all revenue is profitable” often requires a lengthy explanation is a good indication that attorneys need more business training. The JD/MD seems a little less immediately applicable, except of course to medical and health care law, but anything that gets attorneys to see how other people think is probably a good thing. Which brings me to “the humanities”. As a former music major, I can say the JD/MFA in vocal performance, or piano pedagogy, will probably have limited application; however, there is joint degree program that I believe could provide infinite value to attorneys, firms, and clients: a JD/MA in Design.
In BigLaw, the phrase “Who else is doing this?” is so common a response to any new idea, that it has officially become cliché. We have a tendency to focus heavily on what our competitors are doing. Unfortunately, we only perceive other BigLaw firms as our direct competitors. We benchmark our businesses against similarly sized firms that think, act, and are run, very much like we are. Meanwhile, there are a number of firms, and non-firms, providing legal services that are so far beneath our radar that they might as well be underground and they are beginning to get traction with our client base. Unless we are careful, they will eat away at that base from the bottom, until we are fighting over the last scraps of global legal work that these smaller firms can’t handle. But of course, by that point, they’ll be able to handle the big global work too.
There are numerous precedents for this kind of race to the top of the ladder, while an unexpected or unrecognized competitor dismantles the ladder from the bottom up. Most famously in the US airline industry, where traditional airlines bench-marked exclusively against each other while low cost airlines like Southwest and JetBlue stole their market from the bottom.
Incidentally, the epithet “low cost airline” is a bit of a misnomer. While these companies do indeed offer lower priced tickets than traditional airlines, they have stolen much of the market by out-designing their predecessors. They designed new customer experiences, and new business models, while the old guard was focused on what all of other big airlines were doing. Frankly, these “low cost” airlines have a better product that many consumers prefer, and they happen to deliver it at a much better price. And today, there are only two US airlines bigger than Southwest. They are the last two standing after a series of bankruptcies and mergers.
I think BigLaw faces a similar fate – not tomorrow, or next week, or next year, but that future is out there waiting for us – unless we begin to design new legal products, new customer experiences, and new business models that make those products and experiences profitable. We need to fight for the bottom and the middle of the market, if we hope to continue to provide our premium services at the top. I would probably start by hiring people with joint JD and design degrees, or even, maybe just the design degrees.
|“Better Call Saul!”|
I’m watching the Breaking Bad marathon last night when a commercial comes on mentioning a familiar company. Although I couldn’t find the 30 second spot telling me to go to BringAClaim.com, I did find the 2 minute video from the firm behind Bring A Claim, San Antonio based, Watts Guerra, LLP, that describes the settlement agreement that entitles, “more than 100 million Americans who could be entitled to statutory damages of $100 to $1000 for each proven willful violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.”
It seems that Lexis wasn’t just having a problem with this issue, but according to KrebsOnSecurity, was hacked by a serious cyber criminal organization, along with Dun & Bradstreet, and Kroll Background America, Inc., where millions of social security numbers and business information were stolen and sold. The KrebsOnSecurity report, based on a seven month long investigation, reports that the Lexis breach seems to have been one where someone on the inside installed a program called NBC.exe in order to gain access to the system and download the personal data.
Perhaps the most alarming thing that Krebs’ reports is that there are over a thousand “customers” (AKA, Bad Guys) going through the hacked data:
The database shows that the site’s 1,300 customers have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars looking up SSNs, birthdays, drivers license records, and obtaining unauthorized credit and background reports on more than four million Americans.
Seems that Walter White wasn’t the only one having a bad year. But, remember, you may be entitled to damages, so you better call Saul… er, Watts Guerra.
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.
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.
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.