Thomson Reuters announced several new products yesterday, targeting different sectors of the legal market – litigators, corporate counsel and small firms – but all designed around a common theme, that of integrating related products and services through the cloud and mobile devices in order to simplify and streamline a lawyer’s day-to-day workflow.
Even bigger news than the new products, perhaps, was the pronouncement that Thomson Reuters no longer views itself as an information company, but as a “solutions business.”
“We have decided that our long-term vision is not information, it is software tools, solutions, ways to enable attorneys to practice in a more cogent way,” Mike Suchsland, president of Thomson Reuters Legal, told a day-long gathering of legal journalists, bloggers and technology consultants at TR’s Eagan, Minn., headquarters.
The new vision for the company, he said, is that TR “will give our customers a smarter way to work by providing unrivaled legal solutions that integrate content, expertise and technologies.”
“Make no mistake: we’re not taking our eye off the ball on content,” a briefing document that accompanied Suchsland’s comments said. “WestlawNext and legal information will still be at the center of everything we do, and we will continue to honor and build upon our heritage of attorney-authored information, like headnotes and case summaries.”
What this change of focus means, he said, can be summed up in three precepts:
- TR will listen carefully to customer needs and invest to solve their challenges.
- Building on the tradition that helped shape West and TR, the company will seek to intelligently connect its information, software and services in new ways.
- TR will work as one team, across product development groups, tearing down the internal boundaries that have compartmentalized product development. “Our legacy can be a good thing, but can also be a barrier,” Suchsland said.
The four new products announced at yesterday’s event reflect TR’s first forays in this new direction. They will be formally introduced at LegalTech New York later this month. All are cloud-based, mobile and designed to integrate essential components of an attorney’s workflow. Some build on existing products and some are entirely new.
- Concourse, a suite of tools for corporate counsel to manage their matters.
- Hosted Practice Technology, a suite for litigators that combines e-discovery and case analysis.
- Firm Central, a practice management suite designed for small law firms.
- Elite and Current Awareness, tools designed to assist larger law firms in business development.
The design of these and all future new products share three elements, Suchsland said:
- Mobile will now be at the “heart and center” of what TR does.
- The cloud will be the central vehicle for delivering products and services, in order to maximize connectivity across devices.
- All product development will focus on the customer, the matter and workflow. Rather than create standalone products, development will emphasize integration, access and workflow.
Thomson Reuters Concourse
The most ambitious of the products TR demonstrated yesterday was Concourse, which draws its name from the center hub of an airport. The idea is to give corporate counsel an easy-to-use dashboard from which they can connect with all the tools they need to use in their day-to-day work and collaborate with other members of their legal team, both within the legal department and at outside firms.
Every user, in-house and at outside firms, gets a customizable dashboard. The dashboard is organized around matters, be they litigation, transactions or whatever. From within the dashboard, users can access various software and research tools as well as a secure, cloud-based collaboration space.
TR’s objective for Concourse was to draw together tools that might previously have stood alone on the lawyer’s desktop and then seamlessly integrate them within a cohesive workflow. TR also wanted Concourse to be simple to learn and use and have a design that would minimize data entry.
The dashboard provides a global listing of all matters and all related documents, emails and people. All of that is searchable using essentially the same technology used to search WestlawNext.
The dashboard also includes direct access to:
- WestlawNext, for legal research.
- Serengeti Tracker, for matter management, e-billing and analytics.
- Capitol Watch, for legislative tracking.
- Reuters News, for current awareness.
- Legal Hold, a new tool for managing legal holds that is being released at LegalTech.
- Drafting Assistant Transactional, a document creation tool.
Additional products are in development that will be added to Concourse in the future.
All of this is designed for mobile access as well and can be used from an iPad or other mobile device.
Concourse also integrates with the lawyer’s desktop and with Outlook. When you set up a new matter in Concourse, it automatically creates a folder for that matter within Outlook and within your documents directory. Drag an email or document to the folder and it is loaded to Concourse.
Whenever a document or email is uploaded to Concourse, it is checked against WestlawNext and KeyCite. Any citation within a document is hyperlinked to WestlawNext and any items that may no longer be good law are flagged by KeyCite. (Concourse saves two copies of each document, the original and its hyperlinked version.)
Thomson Reuters Hosted Practice Technology
TR also announced yesterday that, as of Feb. 1, it will convert its e-discovery platform, CaseLogistix, from locally-installed software to a cloud-based application. At the same time, it will integrate CaseLogistix with another TR product, Case Notebook, to create a single suite of tools for litigation.
Kris Nimsger, managing director and general manager, litigation solutions, said that the cloud is the more sensible option for e-discovery, given the enormous volumes of data cases can involve and the episodic nature of litigation.
“It makes no sense for a law firm to maintain storage capability around episodic deployment,” she said.
CaseLogistix is a e-discovery platform for search, review and coding of documents. CaseLogistix and Case Notebook will be accessible through a private cloud run on TR’s own highly secure servers. TR will continue to support legacy, on-premises installations of CaseLogistix, but its goal will be to move all customers to the cloud.
Nimsger believes cloud-based e-discovery will save customers money over locally installed applications. To help make that point, TR will assist customers in analyzing the total costs of the cloud compared to a local installation.
Thomson Reuters Firm Central
All all-new product announced yesterday is Firm Central, a practice management application for small law firms. It is TR’s answer to applications such as Clio, Rocket Matter and LexisNexis Firm Manager. It allows lawyers to manage their matters, contacts and documents. Through integration with a third-party add-on, it also can be used for time and billing.
If you have ever seen any of the competing practice management products, Firm Central will look familiar. It does not yet have a calendar component, which the other products do have, but one will be added shortly, we were told. It will have a conflict-checking component.
Firm Central differentiates itself from other practice management platforms in two ways:
- It is integrated with WestlawNext. A lawyer can initiate a research session from directly within Firm Central. And, as was described above for Concourse, documents and emails added to Firm Central are automatically reformatted with hyperlinks into WestlawNext and flags for items identified by KeyCite.
- It is integrated with Outlook and the desktop. In the same way as was described above for Concourse, Firm Central sets up folders in Outlook and your Windows document directory to match new matters you create. From then on, you can simply drag and drop emails and documents to these folders to load them to Firm Central.
For time and billing, TR decided not to build its own application but rather to partner with a third-party application, eBillity. This application integrates fairly seamlessly into Firm Central, but is an add-on that requires an additional subscription price.
The eBillity add-on will fully integrate with QuickBooks, offering two-way synchronization with both the online and the installed versions of Quickbooks.
In addition to connecting with Outlook, Firm Central will integrate FormBuilder, TR’s cloud-based tool for creating form documents, and CaseLogistix e-discovery application. It will not have a client portal at launch.
TR did not announce a price for Firm Central, but said it would be competitive with other cloud-based practice management products, which generally cost in the range of $30 to $50 a month per user. TR expects to offer bundled pricing on packages that include subscriptions to WestlawNext and the time and billing component.
Firm Central can be run in full on an iPad. An iPhone app will offer access to selected features at first, with full integration expected later.
Karl Florida, managing director, small law firms and consumer, said that TR will continue to add products to Firm Central. “We’re developing a a modular suite of hosted applications for small firms.”
Florida said that he believes Firm Central is a strong alternative to other products on the market. “No one in the market offers integration with legal research, and we have stronger integration with the Windows desktop than anyone else.”
Firm Central will formally launch at LegalTech New York later this month. It will become available to use in February.
Elite and Current Awareness
TR announced three new or enhanced products aimed at helping lawyers be more effective at business development and cross-selling:
- Elite. Elite 3E, a financial and practice management application, is being “reinvigorated,” according to Allison Guidette, managing director, large law firms. This is being done through the integration of various new and existing business development products. This will enable lawyers to get more data about prospects and opportunities and better filter that data, Guidette said.
- Practitioner Insights. This is a series of new products created in collaboration with Wolters Kluwer. Each Insight is designed to provide attorneys with comprehensive current-awareness information about a vertical industry or practice area, including industry news, legal analysis and litigation tracking. At launch, Insights will be available for employment, intellectual property, health and antitrust, with securities and bankruptcy to follow soon after. These Insights will reside within WestlawNext.
- My Business Intelligence. This is TR’s first product designed specifically for the iPad. A business development tool for business lawyers, it will allow them to monitor key clients and industries through watchlists, interactive charts and other tools.
Those of us who attended this day-long series of product and strategy presentations were not able to directly test any of the products. Some of the new products are still in beta and are being readied for their full release at LegalTech or soon after. As I learn more about these, I will provide updates here.