Common wisdom would suggest that launching a successful legal newsletter requires:
• Knowledge of the law
• A competitive analysis of existing legal newsletters
• Big law connections
• Venture Capital
• Focus Groups
• A Booming economy when your customers are awash in cash.
• Competitive (conservative) pricing
If you agreed with any of these assumptions, you would be wrong.
Founder Marius Meland: “I Just Love News”
Law360 is the brainchild of Marius Meland. Meland has been in love with the news business all his life. He grew up in Norway and published his first newspaper when he was 7 years old. “The Running Post” was published in three languages English, Italian and Norwegian. It was a kid’s paper that covered things as
diverse as his love of dinosaurs or a local store opening. He later studied journalism at the University of Oregon and then worked as a reporter and global desk editor at Dow
Jones, then a Senior Editor at Forbes, then the managing editor at
technology research firm eMarketer. He left journalism and became a
vice president at AllianceBernstein, and then a management consultant to international fund executives at Global Insight.
But his missed his first love…. The news. He quit his consulting job and with $6,000 dollars in the bank he sat in his apartment and dreamed up a newsletter which covered the expanding field of Intellectual Property, called IP Law Bulletin which launched in October 2003. He formed a company called Portfolio Media.
Meland escaped the solitude of his apartment by writing at a local Starbucks. One day in December 2004 he noticed another patron who was reading a Swedish Newspaper. Magnus Hoglund, who was Swedish, was a recent Columbia business school grad who would become his partner. They transformed IP Law Bulletin and the security and bankruptcy titles which followed it into a rebranded product known as Law360 in 2006.
How Far They Have Come — Readership
As of April, 2013 Law360’s paid readership topped 150,000, up 50,000 in just nine months. Meland reports that 100% of the AmLaw 100 firms subscribe to Law 360. The company’s data also shows that more lawyers are reading more articles across the Law360 Platform. Almost 2,000 organizations including law firms, corporate legal departments and government agencies subscribe to Law360
Coverage In 10 years Meland has expanded the reach of Law360 from his home based newsroom to a national network of 11 news bureaus . The Headquarters newsroom is located in an “industrial chic” space in lower Manhattan which was a former home to Andy Warhole’s Factory circa 1973. They have bureaus in Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, Houston, Dallas, Philadelphia, Wilmington, San Francisco,San Diego and Miami.
|The Law360 Newsroom|
The Method They have developed a proprietary electronic system for tracking and mining federal litigation .They download all Pacer activities and continuously scrape the Pacer website every 30 minutes. They filter 12,000 judicial activities a day and have trained the newsroom staff to look for complaints involving companies and issues of interest to business lawyers. They also take a highly competitive approach to beating their rivals. Meland claims they beat the competition by 1 to 2 days for many stories. They continually review what the competitors are covering and benchmark their victories when they post the first story on a significant case.Wolters Kluwer recently launched their Daily Reporting Suite of newsletters which appears to be positioned to compete directly with Law360.
Law360 provides some coverage of state courts, but state courts have more inconsistent digital coverage and require a different methodology for identifying significant filings, settlement and opinions.
Recently they have created advisory panels of more than 250 top attorneys who help pinpoint the hot button issues which are emerging in their practice areas, before the issues are in the headlines.
Deconstructing Success – How Did They Do It?
The “ Apple” Aesthetic Meland is a big admirer of the Steve Jobs design aesthetic. He likes lots of white space combined with easy and intuitive navigation. Side Bars highlight the names law firms and companies mentioned in the issue.
Selling Awareness Meland really views Law360 as a newswire. He doesn’t offer exhaustive analysis, instead he offers a sort of “stream of conscious” awareness. His goal is to assure lawyers that they know all the important developments in their practice area. They can scan the newsletter and understand the major developments of the day and see if their clients or key competitors are mentioned in any stories in just a few seconds.
The Secret Formula – Make Your Readers the Star. This is my personal take on Law360’s success. Law360 has become a kind of marketing platform where practitioners can shine. Each issue prominently highlights the names of firms mentioned in stories. Over the past few years new “lawyer centric” features have evolved including interviews with practitioners, lawyer and law firm rankings, and opportunities for practitioners to publish their own analytical articles which will be read by General Counsel and their peers. Law360 appeals to the natural inclination of lawyers to see their names in lights and the increasing competitive need for lawyers to brand themselves.
Price More Than What the Market with Bear. Meland is very confident in the value of Law360. He never shied away from demanding a high price. Law360 price increases have been well above the rate of inflation. Many Private Firm Law Library Directors do a double take at Law360s Budget ripping price increases. Meland insists that while the price has gone up, firms are reaping the benefit of the ever expanding volume of stories, special features and new topical areas. Law360 now offers newsletters for 20 practice areas, 8 industries and 6 jurisdictions, a total of 34 newsletters. Today they have 150 employees in 11 cities with $20 Million in sales.
Acquired by Lexis – Now What?
Law360 was acquired by LexisNexis on March 20 2012 for an undisclosed amount. According to Liz Mason, Vice President for Legal News at LexisNexis LexisNexis is embracing Law360 into their overall product strategy.
Our plans have three key components:
1. Leverage LexisNexis resources, such as Courtlink, Statenet and Knowledge Mosiac, to provide fast information about new events in the litigation, legislative and regulatory space to the Law360 newsgathering operation
2. Integrate the highly-regarded Law360 coverage into new and existing offerings such as Lexis Advance and Lexis Practice Advisor. Customers tell us that they value the ability to move easily from the news story to the original source document and guidance provided by related LexisNexis products
3. Expand Law360 coverage into areas of interest to our customers.
Coming to Lexis Advance. Law360 headlines are available on the Lexis Advance carousel. Law360 content will be made available with the next release of Lexis Advance for Law360 Platform customers.
New Products Up Next According to Meland Law360 is launching a number of new titles this year, including coverage of tax, capital markets and the aerospace & defense industries, and will continue to look at ways of enhancing existing coverage. They also plan to provide more original coverage of additional state courts. In the past year alone, coverage of policy/regulatory issues has increased by 130%, primarily by designating more senior reporters to cover these areas. Articles containing analysis have increased by more than 200%.
Did they succeed because of the great recession rather than despite it?
Law360 found fertile soil for growth in the nexus between lawyers’ competitive “need to know” and the crushing professional insecurity triggered in the wake of “the Great Recession.” The entire legal profession was facing a crisis of confidence. Law firms were collapsing, partners were being turned out on the street, clients were rebelling and along comes a platform of newsfeeds that offers a bright beacon of hope. Law360 bloomed, just when every lawyer needed nothing more than to feel smart about the competition and smart about their clients without a huge investment of time. Best of all Law360 was the first publication to prominently display the names of firms mentioned in stories. Lawyers wanted to know the news, but more than that they wanted to know which law firms were making the news. Even more than that they wanted to see their own name on the front of Law360.
Whether by design or accident, Law360 appears to have executed a brilliant but contrarian plan to leverage the crisis of confidence which was shaking the legal profession. Yes Law360 provided the news, but what lawyers were really buying was the prospect of exposure and the “holy grail” of business development– a new client!