Westlaw and LexisNexis have deep roots in online legal research—both started as dial-up services with dedicated terminals! Yet their grip is loosening thanks to new legal market realities and an array of new information services competition.
Reduced information resource spending
LexisNexis and Westlaw once enjoyed about 70% of law firm spend on legal electronic resources. Metrics from CCM, LAC Group’s spend management division, show that these two now get only 40% of legal information resource budgets. Spending on status quo legal publishers like ABA, CCH, Bernan, Executive Press, Hein, Jones McClure and PLI have also declined.
CCM Vice President and legal information resource expert Robyn Rebollo recently authored a white paper – In the Beginning, There Were Two – on the increasingly crowded landscape of information resources available to the legal sector. (Link to full report below.) Robyn advises law firms on ways to balance the right mix of resources to meet their research and information needs without overspending.
According to Robyn, the overall decrease in spend is due to firms eliminating content redundancies and reducing their library and information center expenses.
“Top national firms are scrutinizing their research and information product portfolios like never before, aggressively eliminating underutilized products and implementing long-term strategies that allow them to shrink their budgets.”
Other factors contributing to new information resource allocations:
- More resources are being directed to marketing and business development. According to recent research done by the Legal Marketing Association and Bloomberg Law, 58% of firms reported budget growth for marketing and business development.
- Large firms are being run like businesses, with greater financial discipline and control. Professional managers with domain expertise (rather than firm partners with personal biases) are making spending decisions.
- Thanks to ongoing competitive pressures from other firms, as well as clients themselves who are beefing up their in-house legal capabilities, law firms must find ways to deliver more for less.
LexisNexis and Westlaw continue to grow
While LexisNexis and Westlaw face more competition, they are making changes to innovate, grow and maintain their market position. As part of her report, Robyn provides the latest from Westlaw parent Thomson Reuters and LexisNexis, including:
New information resource options
Robyn includes an overview of the top fee-based research services on the market. Following is just a sampling of the 21 resources she discusses, many for business and finance information:
- Avention (formerly OneSource) provides company trends, initiatives and behaviors so firms can identify prospective clients that match their service criteria.
- BoardEx and Relationship Science are two niche services delivering in-depth profiles of business leaders, power brokers and deal-makers.
- Capital IQ offers an array of financial information and financial modeling features.
- Courthouse News alerts readers to new filings and rulings in federal and state courts.
- MergerMarkets was designed for M & A markets to deliver intelligence and analysis before it becomes public knowledge.
- Policy and Regulatory Report (PaRR) is a competitor to MLex for intellectual property, trade law and sector-specific regulatory change.
The information dilemma facing law firms
The new array of choices brings opportunity as well as challenges to law firms, which now have to balance two opposing forces: client needs for increasingly sophisticated research and the firm’s need to maintain financial discipline. As Robin says,
“This is creating new management problems and new opportunities for maverick spending, duplicated resources and information silos.”
She says it’s important to involve all stakeholders, since no one person can understand not only the benefits of each tool, but how they fit together. The puzzle can only be assembled with a strategic plan and system for acquiring and managing multiple information resources.
Learn more about CCM spend management services for information resources.