Practicing Law Institute

Next week subscribers to the PLI Plus platform will discover that all United States federal and state case law citations are linking to Fastcase documents as the result of a new alliance between the Practicing Law Institute (PLI) and Fastcase.

The Practicing Law Institute which developed the PLI Plus platform, is one of the premier CLE providers in the United States. The  new Fastcase linking feature will be available in all  the PLI course handbooks, treatises  and journals on the platform at no additional cost to PLI Plus subscribers.

In December 2017,  PLI announced that they were not renewing their agreement with Bloomberg Law. That alliance had given PLI Plus subscribers access to primary law such as cases from Bloomberg. Bloomberg was able to offer subscribers access to a  library of  selected secondary source materials  from PLI. At that time I speculated  that it would make sense for PLI to consider an alliance with one of the innovative “upstart” companies which offer primary law such as Fastcase or Casetext.

I spoke to Craig Miller,  the VP of Membership at PLI who provided me with this comment on the alliance.  “We are glad to partner with a progressive, cutting edge company like Fastcase to enhance value to PLI’s members and subscriber with access to primary law.” Miller also noted that during 2019 they will also begin adding “Fastcase enabled” links to statutes and regulations which appear in PLI Plus resources. PLI Plus subscribers will not get full access to all Fastcase resources. Their access will be limited to retrieving the full text documents related to each individual link. Providing direct access to the primary sources streamlines the research experience by allowing researchers to move seamlessly from secondary to primary source content and back again as needed in the research process.

The current PLI/Fastcase alliance will not extend to making PLI secondary source content available on Fastcase —at this time. However, I would not be surprised if  this relationship moved in that direction. I recently wrote a blogpost exploring Fastcase’s evolution from a low cost caselaw service into a “full service” research and workflow platform. An important piece of that development has been the forging of  alliances with Hein Online, Lexblog and Wolters Kluwer to add treatises and commentary as well as developing their own Fastcase imprint “Full Court Press.”

Congratulations to PLI and Fastcase. I can already hear the PLI Plus subscribers cheering when they click on their first “live link” to a Fastcase document.



Practicing Law Institute (PLI) will be removing their content from Bloomberg Law at the end of 2017 when the current license ends. PLI is one of the premier Continuing Legal Education Providers in the U.S. The big question is – will PLI content show up on Lexis or Westlaw. The answer is “no.” According to Craig Miller the VP of Membership at PLI, the company opted not to continue licensing their treatises and coursebooks to Bloomberg Law  or any other third party publisher in order to focus on developing and promoting their own digital platform PLI Plus. PLI Plus was previously marketed as PLI Discover Plus. According to Miller, about half of the ALM 100 law firms subscribe to PLI Plus. I have to assume that in making PLI Plus the exclusive platform where researchers can access PLI content, the company is a making a play to expand that subscriber list. It was apparent from talking to representatives from both companies that neither intends to burn any bridges.

PLI Plus

When Bloomberg Law first launched, it was a platform of primary law materials, which was enhanced with Bloomberg news and financial data. They had very little in the way of legal analysis and commentary. In that context the addition of PLI materials to the platform was a very significant benefit to subscribers. In 2011 Bloomberg acquired the Bureau of National Affairs – a company chockablock with premium editorial legal content. Bloomberg has continued to expand the BNA practice centers and portfolio series and Practical Guidance Suites, while also adding treatises from third party publishers such as the Federal Judicial Center.

PLI Plus includes an archive of PLI treatises, coursebooks, answer books, legal forms and program transcripts. The PLI Plus website includes 90,000 legal research documents covering 25 practice areas.

PLI Needs Primary Law What About a Mashup with Fastcase or Casetext? A Win Win Scenario?

The PLI content on Bloomberg was enhanced with links to primary sources such as cases and statutes. Hyperlinking is common feature in most legal research platforms.  PLI could benefit from a relationship with lower cost legal research providers such as Casetext and Fastcase.  Fastcase has already entered into several alliances with outside content providers most notably HeinOnline. Either Fastcase or Casetext could benefit from the addition of PLI materials– which includes both treatises and workflow materials such as checklists and forms. While PLI had indicated that they want to be the exclusive provider of their own content – this would not rule out their licensing content from another vendor which will enhance their user experience.