Less than three weeks ago Thomson Reuters announced layoffs that impacted many Thomson Reuters executives and staff who I have known for years. I had at least two conversations with high level executives at Thomson Reuters since that time who assured me that the layoffs were done. I suppose this means there was an unspoken footnote in their declarations – as in… “there would be no more layoffs in 2018?” The Minneapolis Star Tribune posted an article stating that there would be no more  layoffs at the Egan, Mn. Headquarters of the legal business. According to  multiple news source including CNN,  “the news and information company is drastically shrinking its staff, cutting 3,200 jobs and closing 55 offices by 2020. Reuters says it will employ roughly 23,800 people — down from its current workforce of 27,000.” This announcement was made yesterday during an Thomson Reuters  annual investor day in Toronto.

Thomson Reuters offered CNN the same statement they gave me three weeks ago regarding the earlier  layoffs. “Thomson Reuters is routinely looking at ways to run our global business operations more efficiently and effectively. This disciplined approach sometimes includes the need to make personnel, or other, changes which allow us to balance our internal resources with the needs of our customers in a highly competitive environment.”

Thomson Reuters Needs To Manage this Message

It is not immediately clear what this means for the legal market. But two possible implications are:

  • Client support could  decline. Continuous churn in sales and support staff impacts the expertise of the client support teams.
  • Products could shrink but costs will not.  This could take the form of both stealth and overt product changes. It is not just that products could be eliminated but the scope of editorial materials or other content could be reduced  although labeled as the same product. It sometimes takes the keen eye of a regular user to detect content changes.

I urge TR executives to get out in front of these news reports and advise their customers what this means for their suite of legal products and product support. Under the new capital restraints where will they focus their  product development dollars?

What are the vulnerable TR Products? West KM Comes to Mind
Off the top of my head the most vulnerable TR Legal product that comes to mind is WestKM. I am sad to say this. That was a product “ahead of its time”  — it should have owned the KM market.  It was developed before the recession of 2008 but neglected for so long — at one point it was transferred over to the Elite accounting division of TR for reasons that defy comprehension – probably to help some executives personal compensation package. Investment and  technical support from the company  languished so long that WestKM couldn’t compete effectively when law firms began tripping over themselves to find products to help them drive efficiency. Here’s another clue – at least two of the executives associated with the West KM product were “let go” in the prior round of layoffs.
What products do you think are at risk? Email me at jogdc1@gmail.com or post a comment below.