I have followed the birth and development of Bloomberg Law with great interest. After all, it requires a bit of chutzpah to launch a legal research platform with the goal of competing against Westlaw and LexisNexis on their own turf. It also requires a bit of cash. Bloomberg Law has both. When it officially launched [...]
TAG | Bloomberg Law
I feel a bit like long-time radio commentator Paul Harvey with this post. On Friday, I reported here that SCOTUSblog would unveil a new look and new features on Monday. Well, now we get the rest of the story. Along with the new look comes a new direction for the blog.
Bloomberg Law will support SCOTUSblog’s mission to provide independent, complimentary and high-quality coverage of issues pertaining to the Court and allow the site to expand the wideranging, unbiased content created by its respected staff and contributors.
Meanwhile, SCOTUSblog founder Tom Goldstein says this about the sponsorship:
The sponsorship represents a tremendous public service by Bloomberg Law. It allows us to improve and expand the information we distribute about the Court. We now have four full-time staff. Along with our reporter Lyle Denniston, Amy [Howe, Goldtein's wife and law partner] will devote almost all her time to editing and directing the blog; Kali [Borkoski] and Kiera [Flynn] have converted to full-time blog employees.
We also of course have many part-time contributors. One very significant new addition is former Wall Street Journal Supreme Court reporter Steve Wermiel, whose first bi-monthly column on the Court for law students appears today.
Goldstein also provides more details on the new “community” feature that I mentioned in my Friday post:
Here is how the “community” will work. Rather than the traditional approach of opening up individual blog posts to comments, we will be presenting specific topics for discussion and debate. Every business day, we will introduce a new Supreme Court-related topic – such as a major decision by the Court – for discussion. Each topic will generally remain active for one week. We will be soliciting experts to participate in the community discussion with our readers. The best comments will be featured in a daily blog post.
Goldstein says that readers will need to register in order to comment and that the community will be heavily moderated “for civility and substance (in the sense that the comment has to be substantive, not that we have to agree with it).”
I believe that Bloomberg’s sponsorship will prove to be a benefit to readers of SCOTUSblog. For several years now, this blog has moved closer and closer to becoming a serious — dare I say “mainstream” — news site, particularly since bringing aboard Lyle Denniston. Now it will be able to devote more staff and resources to that task, which can only make it all that much better.
And before anyone bemoans the blog for “selling out,” keep in mind that this new sponsor is, itself, a professional, global news organization, one that already has a strong legal news component. As a matter of fact, I would say that this sponsorship will be better for the blog’s readers than was the blog’s longtime affiliation with a major law firm, Akin Gump.
Of 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 Bloomberg Law’s visibility and authenticity as a legal research provider, but it could also help it gain access to authors and content it needs to help fill out its libraries of secondary materials. Those secondary libraries — treatises, practice guides, articles — are where Bloomberg still falls short of West and Lexis. It has been working furiously to remedy that, hiring armies of lawyers and creating original content.
In 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 point, its flat-fee pricing of $450 per user per month.
My question to you is: How does that compare to what you pay for Westlaw or LexisNexis?
Pricing of these services seems to be all over the board, depending on any number of factors and on how good of a deal your firm is able to negotiate. Some firms expressly agree not to reveal their pricing terms.
I am trying to get a better sense of how Bloomberg’s price compares to those offered by Westlaw and LexisNexis. (And, yes, even Bloomberg offers enterprise pricing to larger firms.)
I’m not asking you to tell me specifically what you pay. (Feel free to if you want.) But is it more or less than Bloomberg’s rate? Is the difference in price small or large? What do you get for that price?
Let me know. Add a comment below or send me an email.
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.
This should be interesting: Lou Andreozzi, the former president and CEO of LexisNexis North American Legal Markets, has been named chairman of Bloomberg Law, the company announced this morning. Also, Larry D. Thompson, the former VP of business development, strategy and marketing and global chief marketing officer for LexisNexis, has joined Bloomberg Law as COO.
Bloomberg Law is the legal research service launched last December by the financial news company Bloomberg. Unlike other recent legal-research start-ups that focus primarily on cases and statutes, Bloomberg set out to be a full-fledged research service on a level to rival Westlaw and LexisNexis. (See my earlier review of it: Bloomberg Law: Can it be a Contender?)
Needless to say, Bloomberg’s recruitment of these two former top Lexis executives should spice up the competition, at least. According to today’s announcement, Andreozzi’s role will be to provide strategic leadership for Bloomberg “aimed at driving the platform’s expansion in the legal research industry.”
Thompson will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of Bloomberg Law, the announcement said.
Andreozzi was at Lexis for 10 years, first as general counsel and then CEO. Thompson was at Lexis for 12 years and has worked as a legal-publishing executive for more than 25 years.
The Bloomberg executive who oversaw the launch of its legal research platform, Constantin Cotzias, is returning to Bloomberg Europe’s London office, where he formerly worked, to become head of government and regulatory affairs.
[Update: Monica Bay talks to Andreozzi.]
Last February, Law.com published my review of Bloomberg Law, in which I wrote, “Bloomberg’s biggest challenge may lie in convincing the legal market that it needs another high-end research service.” That is essentially the same conclusion reached by Wall Street Journal reporter Russell Adams, who writes about the service today in a piece titled, Bloomberg Hangs New Shingle.
Free trials Bloomberg gave to several prominent law firms expire this summer, Adams says, “and Bloomberg is busy trying to convert users into paying clients.”
[The following column originally appeared in print in January 2010. I am republishing it as part of my continuing effort to maintain an archive of my published columns. Important note: I have not updated this since its original publication. While most of the sites remain as described, some may have changed. All information was current as of the date of original publication.]
Is there room in the legal market for a third high-end legal research service? That is the question as Bloomberg, a company known for its financial news, attempts to muscle in on the turf now occupied by Westlaw and LexisNexis. In December, it officially launched its comprehensive, Web-based service, Bloomberg Law.
For Bloomberg, it is a radical move. It is the first time the company has untethered a major information product from its trademark terminals. The terminals are ubiquitous in financial firms but have never achieved significant presence in law firms. This Web-based product represents Bloomberg’s concession to the legal market’s lack of interest in its terminal-based services.
For the legal market, the move is brazen. Bloomberg seeks to stake out a claim on terrain where West and Lexis have had years to shore up fortifications. In taking on these services mano-a-mano, Bloomberg differentiates itself as the only one that integrates legal content with proprietary news and business intelligence.
Bloomberg’s biggest challenge may lie in convincing the legal market that it needs another high-end research service. The trend in research is towards lower cost services and more open access to legal materials. Bloomberg would seem to be swimming against the tide.
One way Bloomberg will compete is by offering a uniform, fixed price as a counterpoint to the cryptic and confusing pricing plans of West and Lexis. A Bloomberg subscription is $450 per user per month. That is not cheap, but it covers all usage and is less than firms would generally pay to West or Lexis. It also offers a floating license for $1,250 a month that covers five users, but allows only one to log in at a time.
Swagger and Substance
Price aside, the bigger question is how Bloomberg measures up as a legal research service. This much is clear: Bloomberg is getting into the game with swagger. Not only is it loading up on primary legal content, but it is also creating reams of editorial enhancements. It has developed its own citator to rival Shepard’s and KeyCite, its own headnotes, and its own numbering system to rival West’s key numbers.
To accomplish all this and bring itself up to competitive speed, Bloomberg hired an army of lawyers – some 500 now on the payroll, I was told – and has them nose to the grindstone writing headnotes, tagging cases and readying a law digest.
One of those lawyers recently gave me a tour of Bloomberg Law and then gave me a trial account so that I could explore it on my own. (I cannot tell you his title because Bloomberg’s egalitarian structure does not allow job titles.)
A Work in Progress
My overall impression of Bloomberg Law was of a luxury yacht only partially constructed. It looks impressive and many parts of it are fitted out with top-of-the-line features. But as you wander around its decks, many doorways open to unfinished, empty rooms. It is seaworthy, one assumes, but still has a lengthy punch list.
This is ambition exceeding execution, perhaps. Take the Bloomberg Law Digest, for example. It is touted as a detailed index of legal topics collecting key cases, statutes, regulations and other materials. So far, however, many of the topic headings lead only to blank pages, still awaiting content from that army of lawyers.
Cases are another example. Bloomberg’s library of cases is complete, in that it has full collections of all federal and state appellate decisions and trial-court libraries on a par with those offered by West and Lexis. The cases include pagination.
However, Bloomberg Law’s reference guide and marketing materials say that cases include staff-written headnotes and points of law. Some do, but in my trials, the majority of the cases still do not have headnotes. Click the button that is supposed to display the headnotes and instead you get a message, “No headnotes available.”
One strong and fully executed feature is the Bloomberg Law Citator, Bloomberg’s answer to Shepard’s from LexisNexis and KeyCite from West. As you view a case, an icon alerts you to its status and a panel to the right shows a graphical summary of subsequent citations. A click of a button opens an in-depth analysis showing the case’s direct history, citation history and a list of the cases it cited.
A nice feature of Bloomberg is docket searching, covering federal dockets and selected state and international dockets. It is the only legal research service that has complete U.K. dockets, I was told. It also provides tracking and alert services for federal legislation and regulations.
A Marriage of Law and News
A key emphasis of Bloomberg Law is the marriage of legal research and current awareness. The idea is to provide lawyers with primary legal content while also enabling them to monitor their clients’ industries and businesses. It does this well, integrating law and news seamlessly in a number of ways.
To this end, the home page replicates a news terminal. The lead legal news story tops the page and legal headlines appear in a box to the right. The page’s lower half has tabs allowing you to choose among Morning Legal Briefings, daily reports of top news in various practice areas; Law Reports, more in-depth stories covering court and legal developments; and top news from around the world or filtered by topic or region.
The front page also has a watchlist where you can track company stocks and click through to in-depth information and news about the company. Every public company has a page. Among other things, the pages list all recent filings in which a company is named, including from court dockets and SEC filings.
A Design that Shines
One aspect in which Bloomberg Law shines is its design. It is fast, intuitive and thoughtfully arranged. I especially like that – as do most modern browsers – it uses tabs, opening new documents in separate tabs so that you never lose your research trail or have to backtrack through it.
Searching on Bloomberg Law is quick and uses either Boolean or plain-language queries. A search can be run broadly across a range of content types (e.g., court opinions, dockets and statutes) or more narrowly by jurisdiction, practice area or industry. Filters allow easy refinement of search results by topic and industry.
The Research Trail feature automatically saves all research and documents and stores them indefinitely for later retrieval. Another feature, Workspace, allows you to save research and documents in folders and share them with colleagues. Sharing can be done only within your own firm.
Tabs across the top of the screen provide ready access to a user’s Workspace and Research Trail, as well as to saved searches and alerts. Users can set alerts for virtually any type of content on Bloomberg Law.
The left-hand navigation pane collapses with a click to provide more viewing space on the screen. The pane provides links to all of the main sections of Bloomberg Law and also to a collection of practice-area pages. These pages highlight recent court opinions and articles related to the practice area, link to key resources for the area (including blogs), and provide shortcuts to search core libraries related to the practice.
fers a telephone and e-mail help desk staffed 24/7 by lawyers, law librarians and paralegals. I e-mailed the help desk at nearly midnight about a log-in problem and received an answer within minutes, much to my surprise.
Will it Float?
For now, Bloomberg Law is a work in progress. It remains to be seen whether, once construction is completed, there will be sufficient demand for it in the legal market.
The product is targeted at larger firms, but also at smaller firms with a need for robust docket searching and financial intelligence. Few large firms are likely to dump West or Lexis and switch solely to Bloomberg Law. That means they are likely to buy this only if they see it as a necessary add-on to their research arsenal or a partial substitute for higher-priced services.
Law firms heavily involved in securities and finance are most likely to buy Bloomberg Law, given its melding of law and financial news. For the broader legal market, Bloomberg Law has a tough sell ahead and a lot of work to complete in the meantime.
Copyright 2010 Robert J. Ambrogi
(Also see my post earlier this week about the Bloomberg Law biometric doohickey.)
(Note: The Law.com version is now behind a paywall. You can find another version of my review here: Bloomberg Law: Can it be a Contender?)
Last November, I published my review of Bloomberg Law, the recently launched legal research service from business news giant Bloomberg. One aspect of the service I did not mention in my review is the odd piece of hardware required to log-in. Whereas other legal research services rely on usernames and passwords, Bloomberg Law requires you to log-in using something it calls the B-Unit, a credit-card sized, biometric fingerprint reader that ensures that you and only you log-in to your Bloomberg Law account.
You can use it to log-in from anywhere you have Web access. After you enter your usual username and password, a screen prompts you for the B-Unit. Turn it on and its asks you to “present finger.” Assuming it recognizes you, an small LCD display says, “ID valid.” You then hold the B-Unit in front of your computer screen. After a few moments, a four-digit verification code appears in its LCD screen. Enter that in the space provided on the log-in screen, and you are good to go.
Below are some pictures. And, by the way, I’m pretty sure “doohickey” is the correct technical term.
|From Blog Pictures|
|From Blog Pictures|
|From Blog Pictures|