Practicing Law Institute (PLI) will be removing their content from Bloomberg Law at the end of 2017 when the current license ends. PLI is one of the premier Continuing Legal Education Providers in the U.S. The big question is – will PLI content show up on Lexis or Westlaw. The answer is “no.” According to Craig Miller the VP of Membership at PLI, the company opted not to continue licensing their treatises and coursebooks to Bloomberg Law or any other third party publisher in order to focus on developing and promoting their own digital platform PLI Plus. PLI Plus was previously marketed as PLI Discover Plus. According to Miller, about half of the ALM 100 law firms subscribe to PLI Plus. I have to assume that in making PLI Plus the exclusive platform where researchers can access PLI content, the company is a making a play to expand that subscriber list. It was apparent from talking to representatives from both companies that neither intends to burn any bridges.
When Bloomberg Law first launched, it was a platform of primary law materials, which was enhanced with Bloomberg news and financial data. They had very little in the way of legal analysis and commentary. In that context the addition of PLI materials to the platform was a very significant benefit to subscribers. In 2011 Bloomberg acquired the Bureau of National Affairs – a company chockablock with premium editorial legal content. Bloomberg has continued to expand the BNA practice centers and portfolio series and Practical Guidance Suites, while also adding treatises from third party publishers such as the Federal Judicial Center.
PLI Plus includes an archive of PLI treatises, coursebooks, answer books, legal forms and program transcripts. The PLI Plus website includes 90,000 legal research documents covering 25 practice areas.
PLI Needs Primary Law What About a Mashup with Fastcase or Casetext? A Win Win Scenario?
The PLI content on Bloomberg was enhanced with links to primary sources such as cases and statutes. Hyperlinking is common feature in most legal research platforms. PLI could benefit from a relationship with lower cost legal research providers such as Casetext and Fastcase. Fastcase has already entered into several alliances with outside content providers most notably HeinOnline. Either Fastcase or Casetext could benefit from the addition of PLI materials– which includes both treatises and workflow materials such as checklists and forms. While PLI had indicated that they want to be the exclusive provider of their own content – this would not rule out their licensing content from another vendor which will enhance their user experience.