I interviewed Lou Andreozzi to learn about the strategy behind the July 5th re-launch of the Bloomberg Law platform. Andreozzi makes the case that Bloomberg’s unique approach to content and pricing will allow it to peel off a significant market share from Lexis and Westlaw who have a 30 year lead on upstart Bloomberg.

Bloomberg Law includes a standard federal and state caselaw archive back to 1789 and 1755, respectively. They developed their own editorial topics and case summaries, as well as, a citator to compete with Keycite and Shepards. They have added dockets, law reviews, news, financial data, regulatory and legislative sources. It offers sophisticated Boolean, natural language and faceted field searching.

Andreozzi claims that Bloomberg has taken a fundamentally different approach than its main competitors. According to Andreozzi Lexis and Westlaw built vast mega-libraries, trying to be “all things to all lawyers.” Andreozzi believes that Bloomberg’s more focused approach will help lawyers avoid information overload and enhance lawyer productivity. Bloomberg has built it’s platform to target a core of business focused practice areas including, Corporate M & A, Securities, Intellectual Property, Bankruptcy and Litigation.(More in development).

Because Bloomberg owns both their legal and their business information they can integrate it in ways that is not possible for competitors who rely on third party data which is only available for as long as it is licensed. Bloomberg doesn’t need to compete for business content, because they already own it!

Andreozzi admitted that the original launch of Bloomberg in 2009 “coincided with the ‘perfect storm’ of upheaval in the legal marketplace.” The year 2009 was most notable for massive layoffs in law firms, shrinking “profits per partner”, the implosion of several Amlaw 100 firms and unprecedented pushback on billing rates and disbursements from clients. According to Andreozzi this was simultaneously “the best and the worst of times for Bloomberg Law to launch”

Bloomberg has taken advantage of two significant trends impacting the law firm market, 1) cost containment and  2) increased competition among law firms to not only develop new business, but to keep even their existing client base.

Bloomberg’s New Front Page

Cost containment

Bloomberg is offering a single subscription rate which will include all content that is added to Bloomberg. Andreozzi claims that it will be able to maintain the simplified billing and not impose new costs for “excluded” content, because Bloomberg is owned by Bloomberg, L.P. which is the third largest news provider and has a vast repository of financial analytics. Andreozzi points out that this will immunize Bloomberg from the third party content migrations between Lexis and Westlaw which have bedeviled users of American Lawyer publications and leading newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal in recent years. Bloomberg’s simplified billing stands in sharp contrast to the complex and multi-tiered billing systems which are the legacy of Lexis and Westlaw.
There is a growing consensus in the legal industry that in 5 years law firms may no longer be able to pass along Lexis and Westlaw charges to clients. Adreozzi believes that Bloomberg Law’s more transparent and predictable pricing model could more easily absorbed by firms as overhead since firms will not charged for additional content as it is added to the platform.

Lawyer as Rainmaker  Bloomberg’s focus on a core of business related practice areas allows them to leverage the deep “mother load” of business data created and owned by Bloomberg and seamlessly integrate it with practice materials. Bloomberg is the first legal service to code all litigation by industry, enabling a lawyer to easily focus in on caselaw impacting his clients business.

Andreozzi is rightly proud of the ease with which Bloomberg can generate an elegant and up-to-date company analysis which includes: breaking news, a litigation profile with graphs, a list of recent dockets, stock performance and basic company data. Since clients demand more loudly than ever that lawyers much not only know the law but also know their business, Bloomberg appears to have seized the lead in providing a simple way to generate a complex company profile right from the lawyers desktop.

The Future Belongs To…

I can’t make any predictions about the contours of the online legal market place in 5 years. But I do think that Bloomberg Law has gotten some key drivers right including: integrating law and business, simplifying the billing structure, integrating workflow into the research platform. Globalized legal practice will continue to have an impact and all of the major vendors incldung Bloomberg will need to respond to the changes in law firm demographics and financials.

My Favorite Things about Bloomberg Law

  • Industry Search in caselaw …brilliant!
  • Breaking Complaints. Bloomberg focuses on important business cases in important courts that generate leading business litigation. They have gotten the reputation for posting these important dockets ahead of the competition.
  • Foreign and International Dockets Include UK, Ontario, Canada, Hong Kong, EU, Royal Court of Jersey and the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands.
  • Dealmaker Provides sample documents to be used as templates or samples of deals which can be used for negotiation.
  • Shared folders Improve collaboration and workflow allow lawyers to share content with lawyers within their firms.
  • Practice Centers Aggregates links  to case law, major statutes and regulations, treatises, breaking news. custom watchlist, trends in litigation, forms, significant filings, law firm news.
  • Legwatch and Regwatch – allow you to link directly to the codes and monitor topics of interest.
  • Multi- media – Bloomberg is already offering blogs, podcasts and videos on their platform. Since Bloomberg is the only legal legal platform affiliated with a TV station can other kinds of media offerings be far behind?

Custom Company Reports

Custom Company Profile from Bloomberg Law