Plans Unveiled for Major New Canadian Legal Research Platforms

One of Canada’s oldest legal publishers is about to launch what could turn out to be the country’s most cutting-edge and comprehensive legal research suite.

Last November, Maritime Law Book Ltd., a Canadian case law publisher founded in 1969, came under new ownership, led by a new CEO, Colin Lachance, the former president and CEO of the Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII). In December, Maritime launched a new case law research platform, Compass.

Now, Compass has announced plans to launch a major new legal research suite for Canada, backed by strategic investments from two leading companies in legal information publishing, vLex, a Barcelona and Miami-based legal publisher that claims to have one of the world’s largest collections of legal information, and Justia, the California-based legal information company run by the original founders of FindLaw, CEO Tim Stanley and President Stacy Stern. Justia is among the world’s largest providers and supporters of free access to legal information.

vLex will take a substantial ownership stake in Compass and its co-founder and CEO, Luis Faus, will join the Compass board of directors. Justia will also become a Compass investor and strategic partner and Stanley will also join the Compass board of directors.

With these investments, Compass has announced, it will soon launch three new legal research services:

  • vLex Open Canada, a free tier of access to Canadian primary law.
  • vLex Canada, a professional grade suite of tools and services for lawyers, together with support for library, law society and firm-wide implementation.
  • vLex Global, featuring case law, legislation, regulations, books and journals, and other secondary materials from Canada, the United States and more than 100 countries, enhanced with legal editorial analysis and commentary, and updated daily.

“With the continued departure of small independent publishers and the nascent state of the legal tech startup market, the need for strong and innovative commercial competition to LexisNexis and Thomson Reuters in Canada has never been more pressing,” CEO Lachance said in a statement. “Building on the backbone of the historic MLB collection and the active participation of great partners who bring advanced technology and successful track records of decades of legal innovation and disruption, we will provide that competition.”

Lachance told me this morning that he expected the new platforms to launch sometime in June. He said that the services will effectively be two separate platforms, Global and Canada, with the Canada platform offering a free tier and a paid tier. While the global platform will include Canada data, he said that he expects its market to be more centered on courts, universities, government, and firms with international work, while the Canada platform’s market will be more for solo and small law firms.

Compass also announced that Canada-based legal market analyst Jordan Furlong has joined its board of directors.

[Disclosure: Justia hosts and maintains this blog and designed its template, all at no cost to me.]