Thursday, March 28, 2013
We've blogged before about how Bloomberg law is intent on nothing short of world domination in the commercial legal research market through an aggressive campaign of acquisition and expansion. This article from the Heard on the Street column at the Wall Street Journal suggests that Bloomberg is getting closer to its goal as reflected in stock prices for Thomson Reuters, Westlaw's parent, that have floundered due in part to intense pressure from Bloomberg that some predict is close to launching search products that could replace Wexis altogether.
But despite the dire predictions from the stock analysts, as a legal researcher I'm still skeptical that any rival search engine can replace Westlaw in particular because of its hold on the Key Number system. It is the universally accepted, used and, indeed, only indexing system for all legal authority since, essentially, the beginning of time. On the other hand, at this point it's probably imprudent to bet against technology's eventual ability to solve just about any problem.
When Thomson Corp. and Reuters Group merged, employees from the two sides suffered a typical culture clash. Nearly five years later, it is investors in the combined company who may feel most out of place.
Shares of Thomson Reuters remain 13% below where they were when the deal closed in April 2008, partly reflecting difficulty integrating two large, international companies.
. . . .Thomson Reuters's legal group, which accounts for about a quarter of revenue and an even higher percentage of profits, is also under pressure. Its cornerstone is Westlaw, a research system for legal professionals.
As with banks, law firms have looked for ways to save since the recession.
And competition in legal research has intensified: Deep-pocketed Bloomberg expanded its offerings with the purchase of legal-research firm BNA for nearly $1 billion in late 2011.
Indeed, a survey of legal-information customers by Claudio Aspesi of Sanford C. Bernstein in January found that 61% of respondents had a subscription to Bloomberg Law, up from 36% the year before. And some respondents said Bloomberg Law was getting closer to offering a breadth of data needed to completely replace a subscription to Westlaw or rival Reed Elsevier's Lexis-Nexis.
. . . .
Continue reading here.
Hat tip to Legal Research Plus.