Bloomberg Law Releases Next Version of its Research Platform

Bloomberg Law today released what it describes as “the next evolution” of its legal research platform. Changes include a redesigned interface, enhanced search capabilities, new practice centers and enhanced collaboration and workflow features. One thing that is not changing is Bloomberg Law’s flat-fee, all-inclusive pricing — something the company believes is key to differentiating it from the big-two legal research services, Westlaw and LexisNexis.

Bloomberg Law officially launched in December 2009. In a review I wrote about it soon after its launch, I gave the service credit for “getting into the game with swagger” by loading up on primary legal content, creating its own editorial enhancements, and developing its own citator to rival Shepard’s and KeyCite. But I also said that it was a “work in progress” and I likened it to a luxury yacht only partially contrusted. “It is seaworthy,” I said, “but still has a lengthy punch list.”

Last October, Bloomberg Law rearranged the deck chairs and brought aboard Lou Andreozzi, the former president and CEO of LexisNexis North American Legal Markets, to take the company’s helm as chairman. It also brought in Larry D. Thompson, former VP of business development, strategy and marketing for LexisNexis, as COO.

Today I spoke with Andreozzi about the changes to Bloomberg Law and was given a brief demonstration. I have not logged in and tested the upgraded version and will post more substantive comments after I am able to do that.

Flat Fee Pricing

One point Andreozzi emphasizes is that the flat-fee pricing model will not change. The price of a subscription remains what it was when the service launched — $450 per user per month. (Enterprise pricing is available to larger organizations.) That price is all-inclusive; there are no hidden or add-on charges for any of the service’s features. The only price increases customers will receive will be minor adjustments every other year based on the cost of living. “We’re committed to predictable, transparent pricing,” Andreozzi says.

For that, Andreozzi maintains, you get virtually everything that Westlaw and LexisNexis have — all federal and state primary law, a top-tier citator, national and international dockets, and in-depth news and business intelligence drawn from Bloomberg’s global network.

At this point in its development, Andreozzi believes, Bloomberg Law compares unfavorably to Westlaw and LexisNexis only in one respect: its lesser collection of secondary legal materials such as treatises and practice guides. The company continues to move towards the goal of developing secondary materials to cover all practice areas, but it is several years away from reaching that goal, Andreozzi says.

Even so, Andreozzi asserts that such secondary materials account for no more than 10 percent of all legal research. Ninety percent of research involves the three areas where Bloomberg Law is strong: primary law, citations and business intelligence. In fact, Andreozzi believes, lawyers at the highest levels of their practice areas are most likely to focus on that latter category of business intelligence research, including business news, corporate and company information, and docket information.

Many larger law firms maintain subscriptions to both Westlaw and LexisNexis, Andreozzi notes. With Bloomberg Law covering 90 percent or more of what lawyers need in a research product on a flat-fee basis, he suggests, they can now drop at least one of those subscriptions.

As I say, the interview and demonstration were brief. I’ll provide more information as I have it.

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11 Responses to “Bloomberg Law Releases Next Version of its Research Platform”

  1. Eric says:

    Hello Mr. Ambrogi,
    If you want a research platform that has primary and great secondary material at a flat rate, look at Wolters Kluwer Law and Business’ Intelliconnect platform. Just had a resent enhancement in June. I think you will find it very interesting. In addition, also take a look at Loislaw. You will be shocked at the amount of content for such a little price when compaired to Lexis or West.

  2. Laura says:

    It’s sort of a flat fee. They still pass through the $.08 per page pacer charges on all the docs and dockets and updates. While it’s not a lot, it is still an added cost (and sort of nickel and diming if you ask me). If you have a contract with West or Lexis, those charges are not passed through, but actually part of your flat fee contract costs. That is not to say West and Lexis aren’t still more expensive. They usually are, but it’s still incorrect to say it’s a flat fee and that is it.

    • Laura says:

      Hey there, just saw your question now. It’s hard say as it depends what you are doing. For us we really need to track a lot of dockets and Bloomberg gives us unlimited docket tracking for what West chaged for 198 tracks (you can only get tracks in packs of 99). And as we have over 400 tracks it’s a significant savings for us even with the pass through. But the pass through does add several hundred dollars per month to our bill, so it is not insignificant. Even with that, it is still considerably cheaper than our west or lexis contracts were.

  3. Sam says:

    Hi Laura,
    i have seen your recent and insightful comment on Bloomberg Law hidden page charges.
    What do you reckon the total cost differential is between Bloomberg Law and Lexis?
    Thanks for your reply on or off the discussion list.
    Sam

    • Laura says:

      (apparently I hit the wrong reply button–LOL)
      Hey there, just saw your question now. It’s hard say as it depends what you are doing. For us we really need to track a lot of dockets and Bloomberg gives us unlimited docket tracking for what West chaged for 198 tracks (you can only get tracks in packs of 99). And as we have over 400 tracks it’s a significant savings for us even with the pass through. But the pass through does add several hundred dollars per month to our bill, so it is not insignificant. Even with that, it is still considerably cheaper than our west or lexis contracts were.

  4. […] two posts I wrote about Bloomberg Law — one earlier this month and one when it launched — I cited something that Bloomberg emphasizes as a key selling […]

  5. Chet says:

    Hi Laura,

    As a former product mgr on the BLAW team responsible for the dockets, I just want to add a note to clarify your comment about PACER charges. The only circumstance that leads to a pass-thru charge is when the client explicitly requests a PACER transaction. For most docket activities, BLAW does *not* charge extra, including:

    – Full-text searches over dockets (both federal, state and international)
    – Retrieving & displaying the docket sheet itself (you pay the 0.08/pg even for the docket on PACER)
    – Breaking complaints – often on BLAW before they even show up on the court’s website
    – Retrieving, displaying & printing *any* docket filings that BLAW already collected (the ‘blue’ links as we call them),
    – Dockets & filings hyperlinked from Bloomberg news stories and other BLAW content, and
    – Alerts to new dockets filed

    I obviously can’t say how much BLAW spends in its operating budget to provide all this to its clients, but I can assure you that it is a number anyone would take seriously. Client-requested pass-thru charges (and it is pass-thru, there is no markup) help keep the overall cost to provide the dockets service from going through the roof.

    As long as PACER charges for content (and by the way, *no* criticism of PACER on my part, they provide a world-class service that is the envy of many court systems outside the US), providing access will come with some associated cost. When I was at BLAW, we worked very hard to find and implement a balance between keeping the cost of the product manageable for us and offering a low cost service to our clients. The on-demand charges may seem like nickel & dime but they help make the difference between a service that can incorporate dockets at no additional charge into its offering and one that charges a boatload.

    Candidly, I still think anyone who needs broad access to court dockets as part of their daily routine would want Bloomberglaw.com for that feature alone. It is a lot of value for the money.

    Best regards,

    /chet

    • Laura says:

      I believe we get charged for the docket sheet if it comes from PACER. And don’t get me wrong. I understand the pass-thru and agree that they are simply passing through the costs not adding on to them, which is appreciated (and more than west or lexis does as they charge more for the documents than PACER does), it’s just sort of an administrative headache and adds unpredictability (exactly the opposite of what BLAW is claiming they have with their pricing scheme) to our monthly invoice.

      However, with that said, I would be more than happy to pay the PACER costs (and then some) if they made their system more user friendly. I find it incredibly annoying (and the reason I cannot drop west and lexis entirely) that I cannot get the entire docket sent to me when changes occur. They only send the changes and it’s difficult to know the context unless I then go in and log in. Plus I’m doing this for my users so it is they who would need to log in, and they won’t do it as it is an ineffient use of their time. Bloomberg claims it is so you can’t share these documents since it is a proprietary service but my argument is they are public documents. I could understand not emailing Bloomberg articles or primary research or data, but not emailing public court filings is a pain and as a result I am forced to keep west and lexis in my company. But that is really my only serious complaint.

      For a new service they are impressive so far with what they have done and I look forward to their future inprovements.

  6. […] course, this is a smart move for Bloomberg Law. which I most recently wrote about in July, when it released the latest iteration of its legal research platform. Not only will it enhance […]

  7. […] was “several years away” from developing secondary sources for all areas of law, said that such searches of secondary sources comprised a maximum of 10% of legal research searches. […]

  8. […] elect to put law firms on the hook for disbursements is to incentivize law firms to (i) choose cheaper disbursement providers and (ii) use their purchasing power to push disbursement provider fees down.  But clients […]

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