Today Thomson Reuters issued a press release announcing that more than 1,500 organizations have upgraded from Westlaw to Westlaw Edge. I guess you can’t begrudge Thomson Reuters trying to change the subject.  On Tuesday I wrote about the re-organization that Has led to the layoff of countless seasoned executives, managers and staff across the organization.

I wish today’s press release provided more demographics about the 1,500 customers. It is not clear how that breaks down among government, corporate and law firm customers. Only two ALM 100 firms are named in the press release. There could be other ALM 100 firms which have a policy not to allow the firm’s name to be used in marketing materials.

I  wrote about the significant new features offered in Westlaw Edge when it was released in July of this year. This new platform represents Thomson Reuters largest investment in Artificial Intelligence since 2010.  Westlaw Edge  features include advanced natural language answers,  a completely new analytics product, an innovative new citation feature “Citation Risk Analyzer” and “Statutes Compare.”

New Features The press release also highlights that since the launch of Westlaw Edge in July Thompson Reuters has continued adding new content and functionality. New features include the addition of Delaware Court of Chancery state court data to the litigation analytics. They have also introduced a feature called “regulations compare” which allows Westlaw Edge subscribers to basically red line and compare changes to regulations over time.

The Westlaw Edge Up Charge

In the old days, Westlaw offered subscribers multiyear contracts which could include automatic access to any new content or feature is released during the period of the contract. Ironically that largesse was available in the 80s and early 90s when online costs were largely borne by clients. Since the recession of 2008 clients have pushed back on paying for online research so law firms are bearing a significantly higher proportion of research costs. The budget problem is… as firms are absorbing a higher proportion of online costs they are less prepared to absorb additional cost of upgrading to Westlaw Edge.

The Paradox of Efficiency – The Challenge of ROI

Three months before the release of Westlaw Edge, I wrote about the for legal technology companies ti develop systems for measure the value of their “high ticket “ products. Your Workflow Product Costs Half a Million Dollars — Now How Do I Measure My ROI?

One of the ways that law firm‘s have traditionally measured the value of research products is by tracking utilization;–tracking the number of transactions or “clicks”. The truth is that The advanced Artificial Intelligence search features in a product like Westlaw Edge  would result in fewer transactions because a lawyer can find the best answer i.e. the most relevant cases more quickly than they would without Westlaw Edge.  So the standard measure of the value of a product “the number of clicks” will be going down even though the value (efficiency ) is going up.

I think Westlaw Edge installations would be significantly higher than 1,500 if Thomson Reuters could finally figure out the formula for measuring the ROI value of Westlaw Edge. I just hope they haven’t laid off the one person who might know how to solve the ROI riddle.