In the spirit of New Year trends and forecasting, we’ve updated our report, In the beginning, there were two, an overview of the legal research/information services landscape. Originally published in 2016, this report accounts for vendor changes and trends we saw in 2017 and what we predict the legal landscape will continue to see as we progress into 2018.
I’m pulling out a few highlights and adding some additional assessments below.
In 2017 we saw the start of the practice area migrations from Bloomberg BNA to Bloomberg Law, starting with the Tax practice center. Continued practice area migrations will take place in 2018, and while there isn’t a set timeline from Bloomberg yet, we anticipate that there will be implications on information services budgets as these practice groups continue to transition in 2018.
- We expect to see more firms presented with enterprise options for Bloomberg Law in the next couple of years as the Bloomberg BNA content is sunsetted.
- We also believe there may be an impact on other major legal vendors due to spend increases on Bloomberg and the duplication of content these practice group migrations provide.
Often the Bloomberg Law practice migrations greatly increase the content available to end users through a bundled package of resources, irrespective of whether firms want or need these distinctive packages.
We anticipate that Lexis will continue to strategically acquire complementary legal research products in 2018 with the intention of integrating them into the Lexis Advance platform, moving the service towards a SaaS (Software as a Service) model.
We believe that Lexis will also further develop its practical guidance tool Practice Advisor, specifically U.S. content, as the service tries to gain ground and become an actual competitor to Practical Law in the U.S. legal market.
- Lexis’ UK practical guidance tool, Practice Support Lawyer (PSL), made some inroads in the UK legal market last year with one firm making the transition solely over to PSL and removing Practical Law. PSL has had more years of development than its U.S. counterpart, but Practice Advisor’s ongoing development is sure to strengthen the content of the service.
Thomson Reuters’ Westlaw remains the provider of choice in the legal market, although Thomson Reuters had not jumped on the AI / predictive analytics rollout for their legal research services as quickly as its competitors have.
- We will be on the lookout for 2018 announcements from the company on how they plan to integrate machine learning into its legal research services.
Artificial intelligence and predictive analytics
2017 saw various roll-outs of AI, machine learning and predictive analytics from the major legal providers including:
- Lexis Answers
- Bloomberg Points of Law
- Wolters Kluwer’s Federal Developments Knowledge Center
ROSS Intelligence, the legal research platform built on IBM Watson that uses AI and machine learning to enhance lawyers’ abilities, continues to strengthen its position in the market. It was announced in October 2017 that ROSS had received $8.7 million in funding from Canadian investor iNovia Capital.
- There will be continued development of AI and predictive analytics platforms as the buzz for AI and machine learning continues to permeate the legal sector. We also expect further mergers and acquisitions in this space.
Litigation analytics were part of the 2017 legal information services conversation; one of the biggest announcements of 2017 was Lexis’ acquisition of Ravel Law in June. Ravel’s legal analytics are currently being integrated into Lexis Advance, specifically into the Litigation Profile Suite, as an additional menu item, which is being relaunched with the Ravel integration.
Bloomberg Law also has a litigation analytics product, with a new comparative analytics enhancement to the product announced in October 2017, allowing users to compare judges to jurisdictional and national benchmarks.
Continued decline of print
We saw the continued trend of law firm libraries significantly reducing their print collections last year. Law firm and corporate law libraries allocated only 25% of their information budget in 2017 to hardcopy information, according to a recent American Association of Law Libraries survey. This trend is predicted to continue with print spend dropping more in the upcoming 24 months.
- We advise law firms and corporate legal departments to continue to review their print collections and keep only essential titles, to remove titles duplicated online, and work with their primary legal research providers to create CUIs (custom user interfaces) or eLibrary spaces to utilize secondary sources in their legal research contracts.
In short, electronic information resources have become the new standard, and the vendor landscape has expanded considerably. We’re certain it will never remain as static as it was “in the beginning” when only two viable options were available for legal and business research.