Last July Thomson Reuters quietly began the transformation of their Practitioners Insights publication into a full fledged legal news service called Westlaw Today. I met with Zena Applebaum, director, Proposition Strategy Rebecca Ditsch – manager, Product Development and received a demo of Westlaw Today .Westlaw is owned by Thomson Reuters which also owns Reuters, the multi-media news agency. It is a total “no brainer” that Reuters should collaborate with Westlaw in bringing a legal news product to the market. (In fact, Westlaw did briefly launch a short lived legal news service “Westlaw News” back in the 1980’s before it was purchased by Thomson Reuters). I think I share the sentiments of my information professional colleagues when I say “what took so long?” Our next question will be can Westlaw Today challenge the LexisNexis dominance of the legal news market?
The Westlaw Today platform will allow lawyers to subscribe to custom newsfeeds tracking law firms, companies and issues. In addition to traditional practice area coverage Westlaw Today has a newsfeed for “Legal industry” and “Legal innovation” two of my favorite topics. They also offer coverage special topics such as COVID and Voter Rights. Westlaw Today offers news in a variety of slices.
The Westlaw Today main page has the look and feel of a newspaper website highlighting a few major stories rather than imitating the list of recent headlines and blurbs that Law360 made famous. The main page includes a sidebar with most viewed articles, trending law firms and companies, lawyer contributed content and a link where lawyers can submit proposals for articles they would like to write.
Westlaw Today Practice Area pages offer a curated list of news stories by traditional practice areas. It also offers special topics such as Legal Innovation, Legal , COVID News and Election Law news.
Westlaw Today custom email alerts
Daily Briefings in Westlaw Today – Offers stories covering major developments and include links to judicial opinions. Daily Briefings are written by Westlaw attorneys and subject matter experts.
The Daily Docket, a roundup of the day’s most newsworthy happenings
Westlaw Today daily email Articles are written by Reuters journalists and includes articles from other major publishers such as CQ, Wolters Kluwer, the Hill.
A few pieces of advice on Westlaw Today
Make Westlaw Today Findable. When you sign on to Westlaw there is no clear way to locate Westlaw Today. It is hidden under the dropdown menu at the top of the screen. In my experience, lawyers don’t go looking for features that that don’t know exist.
Give Readers One Click Access to Legal Opinions. Stories offer links to caselaw. This begs to be a “one click” feature. Caselaw is the most commoditized of all legal content. It is available for free on the internet …. and yet… Thomson Reuters is requiring Westlaw Today subscribers to login to Westlaw in order to read the related opinion. Why wouldn’t Thomson Reuters allow lawyers the convenience of linking directly to each document for free without the cumbersome login requirement? This part of the user experience was not thought through very well.
My favorite feature – If a lawyer or judge is mentioned in stories readers can link out to additional information. For Westlaw Edge subscribers they will link to a litigation analytics profile showing the lawyers litigation experience. Westlaw Classic subscribers will link to a traditional profile of the attorney or judge.
Lawyers can combine all their alerts into a single newsletter or receive each topical alert separately. Alerts can be set to track companies, law firms and topics.
- Westlaw Today will be available for free to all Premium subscribers
- The Daily Docket will be a free service available to anyone.
- Westlaw Today can be followed on twitter or received via RSS feeds or email.
The Market – Westlaw’s main competitor LexisNexis has dominated the legal news market through a series of strategic alliances (American Lawyer Media, Wall Street Journal) and acquisitions most notably Law360. Westlaw Today appears to be offering comparable content if not the same “white space” aesthetic when compared to Law360. Other competitors are also focused on enhancing their news offerings. Bloomberg Law is also owned by a news organization(Bloomberg) has been realigning and rebranding their BNA news content. Fastcase purchased Law Street Media and has been hiring reporters and is building their own legal news service. Given the uncertainties of the legal market through 2021, budgets are continuing to tighten. Law librarians may seize the emergence of Westlaw Today as an opportunity to opt for Westlaw as the single source provider of both research content and legal news.
AALL/Thomson Reuters Program on Westlaw Today
DATE: Tuesday, November 10, 2020
TIME: 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. CST
COST: Members – complimentary / Nonmembers – $60
REGISTER NOW: Deadline is Friday, November 6, 2020
ATTENDEES WILL LEARN:
- What to look for when evaluating legal news sources
- How to stay informed on what matters so you can notify your clients first
- What Westlaw Today offers, including a detailed demo