Better late than never. Here is my retrospective of top 2021 Dewey B Strategic posts.  The top stories reflect a wide swath of issues including rebranding, mergers, innovation, service disruptions, product realignments, launches, workflow and analytics. In looking at the list I am shocked to see that there is no reference at all to COVID-19. How quickly the most disruptive force in decades transformed into an environmental “white noise” – pervasive and inescapable but not generating the surge of research innovation and work-arounds that characterized 2020.. Somehow we all “kept calm and carried on.”

 

Wolters Kluwer’s Cheetah is being Rebranded as Vitallaw What’s a Librarian to Do? October 28, 2021

The Results Are in Dewey B Strategic What’s Hot and What’s Not Part 1. Westlaw Edge vs. Lexis vs. Law Firm Budgets. March 11, 2021

The Dewey B Strategic 2020-21 Hits and Misses Survey: The Product Most Likely to Be Cancelled. Is Lex Machina. April  26,2021

 Feit Consulting” Is Lexis Practical Guidance Ready for Prime Time? September 21,2021

Thomson Reuters Launches Practical Law Dynamic Tool Set July 12,2021

LexisNexis Launching Law360 Pulse to Focus on the Business of Law January 4,2021

Fastcase and Casemaker Merge to Create the Largest Legal Research Platform by Subscriber Count. January 5,2021

Westlaw Services Back to Normal Following Serious Disruptions Through Most of Tuesday. September 28,2021

 Breaking News: ALM News Ends Exclusive Relationship with LexisNexis White Extending LexisNexis Alliance. January 2021

Bloomberg Adds American Lawyers Media News, Experts and Verdicts. January 5.2021

The Dewey B Strategic 2020-21 Hits and Misses Survey: What Research, KM, Workflow and Analytics Product Are Readers Buying?  April 2021

What’s Hot and What’s Not Bloomberg Brief Analyzer and Thomson Reuters Quickcheck Judicial Tied for Best New Workflow Product. March 2021

2020 State of the Legal Market Report A Tipping Point for Law Firm Transformation? January 12,2020

What’s Hot and What’s Not 2020-21 Survey :ALM Law.com radar Voted Best Legal news. Product. And Thomson Reuters Legal Home – Best Marketplace March  18,2021

Lexis  Legal News Hub Integrated Law360 Content into Research Ecosystem July 1,2021

 In the Brief Checking Wars Thomson Reuters Ups the Antes with New Contrary Authority Feature June 2021

Look Inside Your Opponents Brain Lexis Launches Context Attorney Analytics. March 1, 2021

On January 3rd, I posted a story about Thomson Reuters’ decision to move attorney research support to a “core business hours” model and eliminate 24X7 research assistance. Execs at TR must have gotten whiplash when they threw the policy into reverse on January 5. However they announced that 24X7 hours wouldn’t be resumed until January 18th….

I suppose this temporary Lexis offering is in the spirit of “never letting a good crisis go to waste.” A representative from LexisNexis just provided me with the message below:

As a follow-up to your story about TR dropping – then reinstating – its 24/7 support, LexisNexis is offering Westlaw customers free research support until Jan. 17 to get them through this service interruption. Attorneys can call 1-800-543-6862 to get help with their legal research needs (There’s also a landing page with more info). The company has added additional after-hours and weekend staffing to handle the increased calls. Hoping you can help spread the word so that attorneys (and librarians!) are not left without support.

This is a bit of a “stick in the eye” and piling on — after all Thomson Reuters quickly reversed their decision. However they did create the opening by postponing the resumption of full service to January 18th.

I have to assume that there are lawyers who would welcome support from any source if they are up against a filing deadline and are stuck on a research problem.

I am posting this as a warning to other vendors.  They need to take  both customer support and customer engagement very seriously. It is not only good business but ignoring customer needs leaves the organization open to longer term reputational damage.

 

Thomson Reuters Institute and the Center for Ethics and the Legal Profession at Georgetown University have released the 2022 Report on the State of the Legal Market: A challenging road to recovery. Law firms are throwing a lot of money at the talent problem and it may not be paying off… in fact history suggests that it may destroy some firms.  The report underscores the fact that many lawyers value “intangibles more than money” — and yet law firms continue succumb to the compensation “arms race.”

Are you at a “Stay Firm or a “Go” Firm? The report indicates that some law firms may lose almost 25% of their legal talent in a year. Ironically “stay” firms may pay less and have associates that work longer hours. Here is an enlightening chart comparing talent issues at Continue Reading 2022 Report on The State of the Legal Market – Stop Throwing Money at the Talent War!

Only two days after I reported the end of evening and weekend Reference Attorney coverage, a representative from Thomson Reuters     reached out to me to report that the policy was being reversed. This was no doubt the result of the sputtering disbelief and outrage expressed by the law librarian community across the US.

Here is a statement from Thomson Reuters:

On Jan. 3, 2022, we adjusted how the Reference Attorney service is offered. We studied the issue and felt this adjustment of Continue Reading Breaking News –Thomson Reuters To Reinstate 24X7 Research Helpdesk January 18th

In the 4 decades since its launch, Westlaw created the “gold standard” of research support with a cadre of reference attorneys who were available any time a lawyer was working – that is, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Thomson Reuters executives are apparently ready to “pass the baton” to one of their competitors. Tonight for the first time in almost four decades, attorneys who call the Westlaw Reference Attorney helpline after 8 PM CST will presumably be greeted with a recording telling them to call back tomorrow.

On December 10th, Law Library Directors and Knowledge Managers around the country received this startling announcement: “Currently, Reference Attorneys provide 24/7 research support to subscribers of Westlaw Edge, Westlaw Classic, Practical Law, CLEAR, and over 30 other Thomson Reuters products.  Beginning January 3, 2022, the Reference Attorney Service will move to a core business hours model and will be available Monday through Friday, 7am -8 pm Central for both chats and calls.”

Spectacularly Out of Step with Reality. Let’s think about this – the rest of the world has shifted away from “core business hours” and Thomson Reuters has devised a 1980’s style customer support model.  How many recent trends are screaming contrary indicators: the growth of global law firms, the demand for work-life balance and flexible schedules, pervasive mobility, not to mention a little thing called COVID-19 which has up-ended the time-space continuum of work. What do time zones even mean in a connected post-pandemic world?

 

On December 19th I interviewed Jonathan Meyer, Director, Reference Attorneys at Thomson Reuters. I spent more than 30 minutes on the phone with Meyer trying to understand why there was no alternative to ending 24X7 support. After all, every law firm which entered into a long term Westlaw contract entered that agreement with the expectation that users of the premium priced product would continue Continue Reading Thomson Reuters Signals to Lawyers “You’re On Your Own” – Ends Evening and Weekend Customer Support Today

Yesterday I wrote a post which criticized  the methodology used by Law360 Pulse in their newly released Prestige Leaders Survey.  The survey results are a composite score using four criteria (financial, awards, news and desirability) to measure law firms “prestige” ranking. Although I was impressed with their use of sentiment analysis algorithms for assessing positive and negative law firm news coverage,  I was critical of the financial and awards components used in the  benchmarking.  Kerry Benn  the Director of Series, Surveys and Data at Law360 spoke with me today and provided  the comments below explaining the benchmarking methods used in the survey.

Benn’s response is reprinted below in full:

“Law360 Pulse is thrilled with the publication of our Prestige Leaders this week. We worked for more than a year to develop our methodology for the Prestige Leaders alongside a consulting firm, and part of that decision making included the choice to focus on Law360 and LexisNexis data exclusively — for example, not citing financial data from other publications or using other publications’ awards in our methodology. We also wanted to present these rankings in a new way, to not be a cookie-cutter of every other law firm ranking report. This is bolstered by the unique way we chose to look at the sentiment of news stories.

We first asked about law firm financials in our annual Law Firm Survey in March, and then spent the last eight months doing outreach to firms to gather that financial data. We’re thrilled that we were able to gather financials from about 130 law firms via our surveys and outreach. We did have some larger firms that didn’t want to share financial information, and we let them know that not doing so would result in a score of zero for the financial metric that’s part of the Prestige Leaders. Several firms took that into consideration and gave us their financials, while a number did not, and as we said, those firms did receive a zero for that metric. We hope firms will be as excited about the Prestige Leaders as we are and look forward to collecting even more financial data next year.

Our Leaderboard project is one that we’re working to develop responsively over the coming years, adding more metrics and refining what we have as we look to capture what it means to be a well-rounded, successful law firm. We welcome our readers’ thoughts and suggestions, which they can email to surveys@law360.com.”

Today Law360 Pulse is releasing a new Prestige Leaders Law Firm ranking which purports to “rank firms on four key indicators of: reputation and prestige that demonstrate how firms are viewed by the legal community including clients, legal media and young lawyers.”  Since its launch in January 2021,  Law360 Pulse has offered their subscribers some uniquely insightful surveys. In my opinion – the Prestige Leaders Survey has some significant deficiencies in its methodology which undermines the reported rankings.

This new report is described as  assessing large US law  firms in four categories: financial health (profits per partner); desirability (how frequently firms were named by law students as their top choice firms for summer associate work); editorial awards (the number of Law360 awards a firm has captured over the past year); and news representation (the number of positive stories about the firm that appear in more than 20 respected legal publications.)

 

 

Here’s the Rub – I have some serious concerns about  two of the four components of the methodology: the financials and the awards.

The financials – if firms did not provide financials to Law360 they basically score a zero in one of the 4 categories.  Think of dropping from an A to a C  because you handed in your term paper late.  Is this acceptable in a survey that wants to be taken seriously?  Seventeen of the 100 firms listed did not provide financials. This has resulted in some absurd ranking results… both Skadden and Cravath  don’t even make the top 25.

Editorial Awards – the methodology indicates that only Law360 rankings and awards are considered. This of course means that lots of prestigious rankings are omitted. Chambers, American Lawyer, US News, The Economist, The Financial Times, Vault … are only some of the  organizations that produce rankings which  are overlooked in the survey. The solipsistic focus on Law360 produced rankings undermines the credibility of Awards category. In his 1962 book “The Image” Scholar Daniel Boorstein coined the term “pseudo-event” to describe an event which was staged in order to be reported on. I now wonder if we have tipped into the territory of pseudo-surveys and pseudo-rankings which exist to  reported in later surveys and become tweet fodder.

News coverage – Since Law360 looks outside their own editorial coverage and includes publications from the wider legal marketplace (Bloomberg, ALM, LexBlog and dozens of other sources)  the news coverage category offers a credible comparison of firms “share of voice” in the legal news market. The Editorial team gets  extra credit for using a third-party service called Lexalytics to do the calculations which attach a  negative or positive sentiment score to every article it has available.

Desirability – Which firms do most law students want to work at? Law360 Pulse surveyed potential Summer Associates   (published in May). The question was “if you could choose to do your summer associateship program at any law firm, which would be your top three firms?” Survey participants could select up to three of these “wish list” firms. We tallied up all the mentions and allotted each firm a number of points equal to the number of times they were mentioned in response to this question.

The Results Top 10 Firms:

  1. Kirkland
  2. Latham
  3. Davis Polk
  4. Gibson Dunn
  5. Paul Weiss
  6. Wachtell
  7. Simpson Thacher
  8. Debevoise
  9. Sidley Austin
  10. Quinn Emanuel

The full list of rankings is available to Law360 Pulse subscribers.

The Law360 Pulse Prestige Leaders is the second in a three-part ranking series. The first, Social Impact Leaders, launched in November. The final law firm Leaderboard report will be released in January.

Was This Survey Ready for Prime Time? The legal market is awash is surveys and rankings. Do we really need a new survey based on incomplete data? Any survey purporting to rank firms based on “prestige” really should be based on impeccable data. IMHO this Law360 Survey wasn’t “ready for prime time” and its methodology needs to be reworked.

Entrepreneur Mark Torchiana the Co-Founder and CEO of Courtroom Insight continues his relentless pursuit of alliances and collaborations which enhance the content, functionality and usability of Courtroom Insight. Earlier this week Courtroom Insight announced a new alliance with Arbitrator Intelligence which will make AI reports and content available to Courtroom Insight subscribers.

Arbitrator Intelligence Report in Courtroom Insight

 

Here is the full press release: Continue Reading Courtroom Insiight Announces (Yet Another) Alliance — Adds Arbitrator Intelligence Reports

LexisNexis® Legal & Professional Law360 is bringing audio to legal news. Starting today  every Law360 story that is published will include a link to a complete audio version of the story. Lexis has collaborated with an Amazon technology called Polly which can simultaneously translate every story to audio as it is published. This feature is being added to all Law360  news content including the UK newsletters.

Rachel Travers, VP of Law360 provided me with a demo during an interview. Polly has a male and a female voice that will each be randomly assigned to 50% of the stories. My brain was expecting to hear  something like menacing serenity of  Hal the computer in 2002 A Space Oddesy. But these voices a incredibly close to human tone and cadence.

As a  big fan of audio books, podcasts, Siri and Alexa, audio legal news has always seemed a no brainer to me. I was advocating for audio legal news back in 2015 when I posted about Modio Legal who was using law students to read audio versions of the ABA Journal. Lawyers are always on the run and can benefit from being able to hear the news when in transit or multitasking.

There are certain limits at launch. The voice is not customizable. I set my GPS directions to provide them in a male Australian English Continue Reading Listen Up! Lexis Launches Law360 Audio Stories Today

LexisNexis subscribers on the East Coast of the United States have been unable to access LexisNexis research services due to an outage on their Amazon Web Services platform. Multiple LexisNexis research products have been unavailable to lawyers throughout Monday. Many users retrieved a “Service Unavailable” error page. instead of the research platform.

According to a recent update from Lexis (approximately 2:30 EST), ” most of the functionality has been restored.”  However, US and International caselaw content is still not working.  The Lexis technology team is working very closely with AWS to quickly resolve all issues.