Several weeks ago Joe Breda, President of Bloomberg Law sent a communication to Bloomberg Law customers promising a new pricing strategy. Here in the key text from the document:

“Our migration to a single platform has meant price adjustments for some customers. In response, we are recommitting to transparency and predictability in pricing.  Our long-term vision is a fair price that’s consistent with the marketplace and representative of the value Bloomberg Law brings to your practice or business.” (The complete message is included at the bottom of this post.)

I had a conversation with Breda in which he explained that although Bloomberg will no longer sell Practice Centers, customers can get access to practice related content by purchasing  as many seats as are required by any practice group. The number of seats will be determined by each firm – not by Bloomberg. Those subscribers will get all of Blaw not just a practice center. All Bloomberg Law enhancements in content and functionality will be automatically be available to everyone with a Blaw password.  According to Breda the plan is to “return to the Bloomberg Law roots.” Bloomberg has a published single seat price of $6K/yr. But Breda’s long term goal is to meet the demand for transparent pricing with a published list of the tiered pricing so every firm will be paying the same cost per seat within each tier.

How We Got Here

When Bloomberg Law launched in 2009 they offered an intriguing promise – predictable “all in” pricing. The beauty of the scheme was that it would eliminate the “contract negotiation” consultant industry which has thrived in the abundant uncertainties of Lexis and Westlaw pricing.  More than that –Bloomberg Law was not built around the now moribund notion of “cost recovery.” Bloomberg Law was built to function like a desktop utility  which a lawyer kept open on their desks and used as needed. No need to worry about the cost per search, printing charges, excluded content and the mind numbing cost variations which I laid our in an early blog post “The Myth and the Madness of Cost Effective Legal Research Training,”

Bloomberg Launched with a fixed retail cost per lawyer which would decrease with tiered volume discounts. The elegant simplicity was upended with the company’s  acquisition of The Bureau of National Affairs  in 2011. BNA offered highly specialized regulatory material which was core to many practitioners who were at firms which did not subscribe to Bloomberg Law. Bloomberg executives moved to a “hybrid pricing module” offering a mix of Bloomberg Law seats as well as pricing for practice centers based on the size of a practice group. In law firms, even deciding who is in a practice group can be controversial – so the price wrangling started with an argument over practice group headcounts…Everyone was unhappy. In 2018 they tried to “rip off the band-aid” and transition customers back to the per seat terminal pricing. Dewey B Strategic readers voted the new Bloomberg pricing as the worst legal publishing development of 2018.

The New Pricing Strategy – Possible Market Impact

Since Westlaw and Lexis remain firmly wedded to enterprise-only licensing, firms can’t control their costs by limiting seats.  Last year AALL reported that members had complained of product tying by Lexis. Customers reported being told that they couldn’t buy some Lexis owned products such as Law 360  and even Mathew Bender treatises unless they had a Lexis Advance contract.

The dominant enterprise model for online research platforms, means that  firms can’t control their costs by  limiting seats. Firms are charged for the number of lawyers in the “enterprise” regardless of whether those lawyers are in a transactional practice which doesn’t rely on research or  if there are dozens of partners who delegate all their research to associates. Not everyone will like the new Bloomberg Law pricing model. But I have to give Bloomberg Law some kudos for stepping away from the rigid enterprise model which has had a stranglehold on legal research budgets for the past 30 years.

Since 2019 appears to be shaping up into a soft legal market,  law library directors and knowledge managers may intrigued by Bloomberg Law’s new promise to allow customers to manage what they pay for Bloomberg Law by limiting seats to actual Bloomberg Law users as an alternative to the enterprise only competitors.

Here is the full communication from Joe Breda:

Dear Bloomberg Law Subscriber,

As I approach my first anniversary as president of Bloomberg Law, I thought it would be appropriate to update you on what we’ve been up to – and more importantly, what we have planned for the months ahead.

Since the inception of Bloomberg Law a decade ago, we’ve been committed to the idea that an integrated content platform powered by Bloomberg’s technology expertise will best serve the evolving needs of your practice or business.

To that end, we have fully integrated Bloomberg BNA’s authoritative content into the Bloomberg Law platform, making it easier to use, more powerful, and more comprehensive. Our migration to a single platform has meant price adjustments for some customers. In response, we are recommitting to transparency and predictability in pricing. Our long-term vision is a fair price that’s consistent with the marketplace and representative of the value Bloomberg Law brings to your practice or business. We are also committed to the continuous enhancement of our platform at no additional cost to you.

Some of our product innovations over the past year include:

  •  Deploying Attorney Analytics covering more than 100,000 attorneys from more than 775 law firms, fully integrated with our existing Litigation Analytics suite.
    Adding pretrial Litigation Practical Guidance, offering a unique integration of content, functionality, and AI-powered tools such as our award-winning Points of Law for case law research, Smart Code®, and Docket Key®.
    Adding links to Related Content on each page of Practical Guidance and a clickable Table of Contents for easy navigation of Practical Guidance documents.
    Releasing the Legal Ethics & Professional Responsibility Practice Center, a new one-stop resource featuring the ABA/Bloomberg Law Lawyers’ Manual on Professional Conduct.
    Expanding Docket Key coverage, including filings for 20 additional courts.
    Adding one-click access to complaints from Dockets alerts.
    Enabling redline comparisons of current and prior U.S. Code and C.F.R. sections.

And, we’re excited that there’s more to come. In the coming weeks, we will unveil a new product that will leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyze legal briefs. Designed and powered by our leading technologists, this product will dramatically accelerate research, thereby freeing up associates’ time for more strategic tasks. This solution is just one of the enhancements to Bloomberg Law you will be seeing. We are also planning an expansion of Litigation Analytics, including Court and Case type analytics, enhancements to Bloomberg Law’s Draft Analyzer tool, and new search fields for finding on-point EDGAR documents and transactional precedents.

Listening to our customers and understanding where the market is heading is critical to how we operate and serve you best. In that spirit, I encourage you to share what we can do to continue to deliver the products and services that will help you succeed.

If you are at the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) Annual Meeting & Conference July 13-16 in Washington, D.C., please stop by our booth and introduce yourself. Otherwise, I hope we get the chance to meet while I’m on the road visiting customers this year. I’m also just an email away –


Joseph Breda