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.