David Perla at the BBNA “Wall of Firsts” c.BBNA
On July 14th, Bloomberg announced the
appointment of David Perla as the new President  of Bloomberg BNA Legal.
Perla was a fascinating choice given his path from corporate lawyer (Katten
Muchin) to in-house counsel (Monster) to outsourcing pioneer  (Founder and
co-CEO of Pangea3) to CEO (Matterhorn Transactions). ABA Magazine named
Perla one of the year’s “Legal Rebels” in 2011 and American Lawyer named
him one of the top 50 legal innovators of the past 50 years.  He has sat on many “sides of the table”
… in the chair as the  provider, the consumer and the disruptor  of
legal services. This will give him a unique perspective on how Bloomberg BNA can
pursue its’ intent to rewrite the rules  of engagement between law firms
and legal information providers. I might as well brag that I got the first
post-hire interview with Perla and a shot of him standing at the “Bloomberg
BNA Wall of Firsts” at their headquarters in Crystal City, Virginia.
Bloomberg Disrupted
Financial Reporting – Perla Disrupted Legal Practice

I examined the
evolution of the Bloomberg empire  in an earlier post.  Bloomberg
was created when Michael Bloomberg looked at the dominant financial data
service Dow Jones Telerate and wondered why it couldn’t do more than spit out
stock and bond prices. From  the simple insight of adding math functions
to the  data reporting,  Bloomberg has built an unparalleled media
empire and Telerate has been swept into the dustbin of forgotten products.
Perla likewise looked at the legal marketplace and recognized that in-house
counsel didn’t like to pay “Wall Street” rates for repetitive legal processes
and set out to prove that certain  functions could be done both reliably
and more cheaply by lawyers in India.

He developed
one of the most successful legal process outsourcing companies, Pangea3,
which was ironically sold to Thomson Reuters, one of Bloomberg
BNA’s main competitors.

Both men
were inspired by insights into business process improvement. Legal process
improvement is on the radar of managing partners if not yet fully impacting the
practice of law. Law firm leaders are hungry for new solutions. Can Perla and Bloomberg
BNA deliver? Should Thomson Reuters, LexisNexis and Wolters Kluwer be worried at this high voltage disruptive pairing?

I met with Perla in one of the
signature Bloomberg BNA glass conference rooms. Bloomberg has a famously “open
plan” work environment which has transformed the BNA offices following their
acquisition.  Perla explained that his first priority was getting to know
the Bloomberg BNA teams. He recognizes that Bloomberg BNA is a unique
organization which was born of two distinctive cultures and  legacies of
professional excellence. Bloomberg brought strength in technology and business
analytics and BNA staff brings premier legal analysis.   He is
confident that the combination of these two legacies will enable Bloomberg
BNA to solve  emerging challenges facing the legal profession better
than their competitors.

The Interview


JOG: Having
been in the role of both inside and outside counsel, is there a difference in their
information needs?


Outside counsel are expected by their clients to be masters of their areas of
expertise.  This is the traditional role of outside counsel. But today,
outside counsel need to be able to obtain, understand and analyze strategic
business information, both because their clients want this and because the
lawyers need this mastery in order to both remain competitive and/or
differentiate themselves.  So mastery of a particular legal area is no
longer enough – understanding of, and some mastery of, business information is
now critical.


JOG: .What is
your  vision for BLaw?


Perla : My
vision is for Bloomberg Law, along with the full suite of Bloomberg BNA Legal
offerings, to be the go-to information solutions provider for the legal
industry, and to be the first source lawyers turn to in looking for solutions
to information driven problems.”  Bloomberg BNA and Bloomberg are widely
regarded as experts in matching technology, information and products with the
needs of their clients.  So Bloomberg Law will leverage that expertise in
matching technology, information and products to solve the various pain points
of its legal industry clients.


JOG: Do you
think that Bloomberg BNA has a unique opportunity for growth as the result of
the changes brought on by “The Great Recession?”


Perla: Law
firms today understand that they are practicing in a new environment, and that
the practice of law and business of law has changed.  Bloomberg BNA and
Bloomberg Law, in serving those law firms, provides tools for both precedent
retrieval and analysis AND market data precedent analysis.  As a result of
this combined expertise, we are uniquely positioned to address law firms’ legal
and market data needs and demands. 


Based on your experience in-house, do you plan to expand marketing of BLAW
to in-house counsel?


Perla: This
is an ongoing initiative, with a continued and growing emphasis.  I spent
nearly five years at a Big Law and another five-plus years in-house, and have
spent the last decade serving in-house counsel and the law firms that represent
them.  So in-house counsel is a unique area of expertise for me.
In-house counsel have specific legal needs, but also have extensive market
information needs that are different than the needs of their outside counsel.
Because of the depth of business information that Bloomberg BNA and Bloomberg
Law are able to offer our clients, we as a company are uniquely situated to
solve and address those market information problems and needs.


JOG: How much
will your experience/insights  at Pangea3  impact your vision for BLAW
Products and services?


As I mentioned, I spent a decade between Big Law and in-house, and then another
decade serving those groups.  As a result, I bring a unique insight into
how both sets of clients operate, and into their needs and goals.  That
insight influences both my vision for our products and solutions, and the way
in which we offer those products and solutions to our clients. 




Since I met
Perla in front of the Bloomberg BNA ”wall of firsts” I began wondering what
Perla’s “first” contribution might be.  In preparing for the interview it
became obvious that Perla comes to Bloomberg BNA with a  significant
social media footprint. Here is my “first” observation about Perla.  He  is
the first major legal publishing executive  who is a “social media
native.”  His hefty digital  “footprint”  is proof that he is  “engaged with” rather than an “observer of” new
media. This is an important and distinctive asset in a chief executive. This is likely to inform his
vision of Bloomberg BNA’s place in the evolving digital world.  In one of
his previous video interviews he talked about the importance of “clear
intention” in leading Pangea3.  He is fond of repeating a wonderful adage that one should “never confuse a clear vision with a straight line.” So I think it
is fair to expect that both Perla as a leader, and Bloomberg BNA as a company
are likely to explore some uncharted territory at the frontiers of legal

Related Posts:

Welcome to Bloomberg Law, No Deals, No Discounts, No Apology.
Bloomberg Law Takes on the Titans.