February 15, 2010
West on Filling in Gaps in WestlawNext's Rollout, Marketing and Sales Information: Blogging in Reaction to Blogging by Legal Information Professionals
Anne Ellis distributed the below "Dear Colleagues" message on AALL listservs this morning. It indicates that the folks in the land of 10,000 invoices are closely following bloggers and listservs to identify "gaps" in the WestlawNext discussion. By gaps is meant the huge gaping holes in information created by TR Legal's piecemeal release of details. Personally, I find it interesting that TR Legal is reacting to a situation not in its control -- thanks in no small part to blogging legal information professionals -- something I have not seen West been required to do in the 30 years since I started in this profession.
Here's a Gap, Anne. While referring to law schools and law firms in the below "Dear Colleagues" letter, what about public law libraries? You know, those federal and state agency and courts, state and county law libraries...
Welcome to the Blogosphere, Anne. Anne indicates that she will be blogging on matters as they arise on Legal Current. Normally I would say reading Legal Current is an utter waste of time but if Anne is going to be blogging in reaction to blogging by legal information professionals, it might be worth taking its RSS feed for a while. [JH]
There has been a lot of conversation around WestlawNext these past couple weeks. Overall, we are pleased with the attention that WestlawNext has generated. When we went down this path, five years ago, we began with the question, "how can we make doing legal research and practicing law easier for our customers?" That is still our goal, and I’m happy that our work toward this end is something that you also find interesting.
Recent commentary from the librarian community has been mostly very thoughtful, as I would expect, and related to product strategy, rather than the posts of the past couple weeks that spoke mostly to features and functionality.
There are three points I’d like to address, where it seems speculation has been incorrect and has understandably caused concern:
Rolling out WestlawNext to law firms. Our sales team will make trials of WestlawNext available to customers based on customer needs and priorities. Customers can learn more about WestlawNext by visiting westlawnext.com.
Rolling out WestlawNext to law schools. In a previous note, I said that we would begin showing WestlawNext to law schools in a phased rollout of trial passwords, beginning with librarians and faculty this spring, and that we were making plans for launching WestlawNext to law students, with possible introduction as early as the Fall 2010 semester. It appears that it was understood by some that this meant that WestlawNext would be in all law schools by the fall of this year. To be clear, we are still determining timing for our rollout to law schools, and will work closely with law schools and the legal profession overall with the goal of helping them make better potential lawyers as we have always done.
Questions relating to inexperienced researchers informing the search results. This is a really interesting discussion. I talked to the technology team behind WestlawNext, and student research was never to be part of the algorithm to inform search results. It was a very good question though, and I wish we had spoken to it in our original discussion about the artificial intelligence technology.
WestlawNext is an entirely new platform, and we worked hard in the days around launch to provide the right information to the right individuals. I think we all understand now that there will be questions popping up for awhile as people ask smart questions and as strategy and planning unfold.
We will continue to scan the blogs and listservs for comments that reveal gaps in the discussion, and I will try to speak to those points on a regular basis on Legal Current, the corporate blog for Thomson Reuters, Legal. I invite your questions and comments and I appreciate being part of the discussion.
Senior Director, Librarian Relations
(Emphasis in the original)