Legal Publishing Industry

I have been following Fastcase since 2011 when I wrote a blogpost, highlighting their innovative approach to legal research which included visual timelines and a feature called “foresight” that identified relevant precedent without relying on keywords. Fastcase was the brainchild of co-founders  Ed Walters and Phil Rosenthal, former big law associates who were driven by a passion to “democratize the law.”

Since 2011, I have written an astonishing 49 stories on my blog tracking Fastcase’s various upgrades, acquisitions and alliances.  Acquisitions include: Casemaker, Loislaw, Docket Alarm, Judicata’s “Legal genome,” TopForm, Next Chapter and Law Street Media. They expanded business intelligence, legal treatises, expert witness profiles, and corporate content by entering alliances with a host of companies, including Courtroom, Insight, JurisPro, the ABA, TransUnion, James Publishing , The Practicing Law Institute, Littler, Wolters, Kluwer, and Association of Immigration Lawyers and Matterhorn.

A year ago this month cast Fastcase merged with vLex,  the international research platform. I was really excited to talk to Ed Walters, Chief Strategy Officer at vLex and get his take on the vLex merger as well as the state of the legal tech market, advice for entrepreneurs and teaching robot law to next generation of lawyers.

O’Grady: It is a year since Fastcase merged with vLex. Has it been a win-win for both companies?

Walters: Fastcase was very successful as a 24-year-old bootstrapped company. We had not gotten a lot of outside financing, and we had grown Fastcase incrementally and responsibly as a profitable company. At the beginning of 2023 it was pretty clear, that we were coming into an age where “speed to market” and artificial intelligence were going to be more important than ever, and candidly, we just didn’t have the resources to compete as an independent, slow-growth company.

Continue reading on LegalTech HubContinue Reading The Fastcase/ vLex Merger – A Talk with Ed Walters on the State of the Legal Tech Market, Advice for Start-ups, Generative AI and Robot Law in Legal Education

Law library budgets can easily grow wild like sprawling and untamed gardens. In the past, law librarians could be managing literally thousands of print titles spread across dozens of locations. The pandemic accelerated the full embrace of digital alternatives to print. Today many law firm libraries have small print collections but a large and complex network of digital licenses. Law firm mergers, the opening of new offices and the continuous churn of lateral partners can play havoc with budgets and orderly management of both digital and print collections.

We have all been confronted with an invoice which prompts us to pause and wonder “Why are we paying for that?”

The legal tech market is bursting with innovative new Generative AI products. Sometimes the only way to pay for a new resource, is to purge the collection of lesser used, duplicative or legacy products which have been automatically renewed without any analysis.

Over the course of my career I have grappled with the unruly forces of full “mergers of equals,”  partial mergers, office openings, office closing, spin-offs, practice group migrations…. Practices expand or shrink over time. Partners come and go and often leave behind a legacy of resources that no longer have a devoted champion.

The best way to control costs is to develop processes and protocols for each of the 3 major product lifecycle benchmarks:  acquisition, renewal and cancellation.

The full article is posted on Legal Tech HubContinue Reading Why Are we Paying for That?  10 Tips and Techniques for Taming a Library Budget and Optimizing ROI

Legal Tech Mergers continue despite the uncertain economy. The recent acquisitions of Fastcase and Casetext inspired me to “take the temperature” of legal information marketplace. Thomson Reuters acquisition of Casetext for the breathtaking $650M was completed on August 17, 2023

The Survey I gave information professionals the opportunity to provide feedback on legal information mergers

Early in my career, one of the hallmarks of customer service excellence was the prevalence of periodic “business reviews.”  Business reviews are formal meetings that function as a “checkup” on vendor and contract performance. For several decades these reviews were offered by most large vendors throughout the course of a contract to assess past performance

There is no question that the most exciting place at AALL is the Exhibit Hall. Connect with old friends, schmooze with vendors, learn about exciting new features and products. 2022 is the first live, post pandemic AALL conference. I am anticipating that a highly energized crowd will be streaming through the exhibit hall. I

In the 4 decades since its launch, Westlaw created the “gold standard” of research support with a cadre of reference attorneys who were available any time a lawyer was working – that is, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Thomson Reuters executives are apparently ready to “pass the baton” to one of their competitors. Tonight for the first time in almost four decades, attorneys who call the Westlaw Reference Attorney helpline after 8 PM CST will presumably be greeted with a recording telling them to call back tomorrow.

On December 10th, Law Library Directors and Knowledge Managers around the country received this startling announcement: “Currently, Reference Attorneys provide 24/7 research support to subscribers of Westlaw Edge, Westlaw Classic, Practical Law, CLEAR, and over 30 other Thomson Reuters products.  Beginning January 3, 2022, the Reference Attorney Service will move to a core business hours model and will be available Monday through Friday, 7am -8 pm Central for both chats and calls.”

Spectacularly Out of Step with Reality. Let’s think about this – the rest of the world has shifted away from “core business hours” and Thomson Reuters has devised a 1980’s style customer support model.  How many recent trends are screaming contrary indicators: the growth of global law firms, the demand for work-life balance and flexible schedules, pervasive mobility, not to mention a little thing called COVID-19 which has up-ended the time-space continuum of work. What do time zones even mean in a connected post-pandemic world?

On December 19th I interviewed Jonathan Meyer, Director, Reference Attorneys at Thomson Reuters. I spent more than 30 minutes on the phone with Meyer trying to understand why there was no alternative to ending 24X7 support. After all, every law firm which entered into a long term Westlaw contract entered that agreement with the expectation that users of the premium priced product would continue
Continue Reading Thomson Reuters Signals to Lawyers “You’re On Your Own” – Ends Evening and Weekend Customer Support Today