Saturday, December 4, 2010

Bloomberg Financial "lawyers up" to compete with Wexis

This post from the Law Librarian Blog tells us that Bloomberg Law has become one of the largest employers of attorneys in NYC and that this hiring spurt has occurred in anticipation of competing with Wexis for your commercial research dollars.

While law firms have spent the last year and a half reeling from the financial crisis and trying to cope with diminished employee rosters, a new powerhouse is building a legal army: Bloomberg LP. The financial data and news juggernaut has quietly hired nearly 500 lawyers over the past year, making it the largest source of new legal jobs in New York. From its midtown headquarters, Bloomberg is positioning itself to attack the $14.5 billion legal research industry, which has been long dominated by the duopoly of LexisNexis, a $4 billion enterprise owned by Reed Elsevier, and Westlaw, which is part of the Thomson Reuters information empire.

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For now, it is far too early to say what impact Bloomberg Law will have. BLaw is a legal search vendor that integrates its inventory of financial industry content. When I saw a product demo my reaction was "I wish I had this service when I worked for a securities law firm in the early 1980s." But BLaw is only a legal search vendor. It does not have a product line of premium secondary legal resources. Acquiring BNA and unleashing BNA's sales force into this market would be a major plus. Content does not sell itself. BLaw also does not offer what WEXIS does as professional legal services vendors for this market segment, namely an electronic infrastructure ranging from practice management to billing and marketing support. At least not yet.

Fixed-Rate Pricing for Legal Search? Still the Financial Times is reporting that Bloomberg Law's Lou Andreozzi expects many law firms and corporate lawyers may prefer the service's flat-rates (e.g., $450 per attorney per month) instead of the more “expensive and unpredictable” sums they pay WEXIS. Andreozzi is signaling that BLaw discounting to increase its client base may be coming. See FT's Bloomberg Law’s discounts pose threat for details (and note Outsell industry analyst David Curle's comments)

Will fixed-rates for online legal search in the BigLaw and corporate legal department sector be the new normal? Free WestlawNext? Competitive fixed-rate pricing for Lexis Advance in the BigLaw and corporate legal department private sector? Watch for pricing concessions if BLaw poses a competitive threat. Also watch WEXIS start packaging its many discrete workflow solutions into "total solutions" including online search for the private sector market to compete with each other and with Bloomberg Law.

You can read the rest here.


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