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July 21, 2010
Is the Cost of Staying Competitive in Online Legal Search Worth a "Premium" Paid by Users of WestlawNext and Soon to be Users of Lexis Advance?
Yes, "New Lexis" has an official name now. It's "Lexis Advance" (Hat tip to 3 Geeks' Greg Lambert). Should we pay a premium for them? Alan Cohen's American Lawyer article accompanying and promoting the release of AmLaw's Law Librarian Survey 2010, Law Librarian Survey 2010: More Bang, Less Bucks writes, "One chief [law firm librarian] resents having to pay for WestlawNext at all: 'It should be their cost for staying competitive.'"
That's an interesting proposition but I'm inclined to think that if very expensive legal search vendors couldn't recoup their investment costs over the long-term, there is little economic incentive to improve their services, at least not until new competitors find a way to break through the duopolistic wall. Call me a capitalist sock puppet! Applying a 20th Century pricing scheme to a 21st Century service in the case of WLN is an entirely different issue; pity the poor Cobalt developers who might very well be some of the best in the business, who might very well be pounding their heads against the proverbial corporate wall because of what the TR Legal bean-counters and in-house and outside marketing mavens have done to their baby. Do note, however, that any return on investment should be viewed from a long-term perspective, should be reasonable and incremental from that perspective, and should be for a service that is really "ready for prime time."
One would hope that our very expensive legal search vendors would spend as much time and expense on providing law librarians with detailed information about their new roll-outs -- without leaving that to a sales force consisting of some vendor reps who aren't nearly as well informed as, oh, I don't know, a professional like Dick Spinelli. (see LLB's Today's Legal Publishing Vendor Reps May Want to Learn from the Best in the Business) -- as they do in churning out marketing pablum like Johnny and Jenny Westlaw. See Meg Kribble's Lessons from AALL2010: Keep It Real, Vendors.
Hopefully Lexis has learned from the fiasco that was TR Legal's WLN launch, marketing tactics and pricing schemes; the ball will soon be in their court for Lexis Advance. We'll have to wait and see if Lexis has learned not to blindly charge ahead -- advance Lexis! --- like entrenched WWI soldiers about to face the machine gun barrage that is the legal information professional blogosphere. [JH]
I was so furious today when Thomson Reuters BLASTED an email to my faculty, staff and librarians peddling WestlawNext - after I specifically said NO, I DO NOT WANT TO BE BOTHERED WITH THIS PRODUCT UNTIL IT WORKS. By until it works, I mean that there is a pricing model in place that firm librarians will consider somewhat reasonable, until all my subscriptions are represented, until I can print to a Westlaw printer, until TR actually knows what they are doing.
They cannot provide any details about this product because they are confused themselves. This is not news, but they are an outrageous operation that takes way too many liberties with their clients.
Posted by: vicki | Jul 21, 2010 5:45:43 PM