On Monday I posted about a malware incident which caused Wolters Kluwer to take all their products offline. Last night I commented about a post on the Krebs on Security website which indicated that the author had noted suspicious write-able files  on the Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting  software Website last Friday.

Linda Gharib, Director, Marketing Communications & Media Legal and Regulatory U.S. of Public Relations at Wolters Kluwer provided the following statement regarding the Krebs posting:

Please be assured that at this time we see no evidence of correlation between the matter raised in the article you cited, and the incident we experienced and informed customers of this week. We will of course to continue to investigate this matter.

Note that we also have concerns about the article, which contains inaccuracies – here are some specific points:

  1. The site Krebs highlighted is a read only ftp site that serves as a download center for certain legacy tax forms. The bulk of its content is tax forms for the previous years.
  2. None of the data contains PII or is sensitive data.
  3. When Krebs contacted the Tax unit, the site was taken offline to carefully review the content. The intent is to continue to make the forms available, but ensure security protocols are met.
  4. As disclosed on May 7 to customers, we took offline many of our applications and are in the process of bringing them back up.

Since temporal correlation does not equal causation we need to give Wolters Kluwer the benefit of the doubt. I have every confidence that Wolters Kluwer executives will communicate all material information to their customers and their cyber-security teams as soon as they have completed they security analysis of the incident. To Wolters Kluwer’s credit — in recent years they have developed a track record of “doing the right thing” in regard to customer relations issues.

Good News: Their website now indicates that there is a temporary helpline and customer service email are back up:

Helpline : 800-930-1753 or contact us at customer.service@wolterskluwer.com.

Most of Wolters Kluwer Legal and Regulatory products including the  Cheetah platform  and RBSource  have been offline for more than twenty four hours. To make matters worse – customer can’t reach them.  All of their phone and communication systems have been offline.  Their customer service number rings and rings —no answer – there have been no legal  news updates on their website since May 3rd. On Tuesday I posted a message which Wolters Kluwer wanted to reach their customers.

A prominent cyber-security blog Krebs on Security   has posted a disturbing report that Wolters Kluwer was aware of a security problem last Friday. It indicates that the problem may have originated in a  tax software product from the Tax & Accounting division. According to the blog post  “file directories containing new versions of CCH’s software were open and writable by any anonymous user, and that there were suspicious files in those directories indicating some user(s) abused that access.”  Krebs reported seeing “a few odd PHP and text files in the CCH Directories , including one that seemed to be promoting two different and unrelated Russian language discussion forums.” Shortly after Krebs reported the problem to Wolters Kluwer, the CCH file directory for tax software downloads was taken offline.

If there is any good news in this for law firms – they generally do not subscribe to the kind of accounting software implicated in the report above. It is accounting firms that are at the greatest risk.

Krebs also links to a Reddit thread which is full of theories about the cyber problems. One post suggests that this may be linked to a recent surge in MegaCortex ransomeware attacks.

Law firms are prime targets for hackers – they are rich in secrets: private equity and M&A deal data, intellectual property and trade secrets, financial and litigation risks involving clients. Given that reality,  it is a terrifying prospect that a research vendor could unwittingly provide a back door to a law firm network. Let us hope that the Wolters Kluwer suite of legal research products are not impacted by the malware attack at Wolters Kluwer. Let’s hope that it is true – that they have been taken offline out of an abundance of caution and access will soon be restored to subscribers. However – I remain puzzled that Wolters Kluwer did not warn all of their customers about the potential risks as soon as they became aware of the breach last Friday.

I reached out to representatives from Wolters Kluwer tonight asking for a comment of the Krebs report. I have not yet gotten a response.

Wolters Kluwer Legal and Regulatory – a   leading publishers of  regulatory materials in the United States has experienced a serious service interruption since yesterday afternoon arising from malware. They have taken their platforms  including Cheetah and RBSource offline. To make matters worse –  the malware  impacted their ability to communicate with customers.  According to the statement below no user data was impacted.

Below is a message to their customers:

Wolters Kluwer Platforms and Applications Service Interruptions – Update May 6

On Monday May 6, we started seeing technical anomalies in a number of our platforms and applications. We immediately started investigating and discovered the installation of malware. As a precaution, in parallel, we decided to take a broader range of platforms and applications offline. With this action, we aimed to quickly limit the impact this malware could have had, giving us the opportunity to investigate the issue with assistance from third-party forensics consultants and work on a solution. Unfortunately, this impacted our communication channels and limited our ability to share updates. On May 7, we were able to restore service to a number of applications and platforms.

We regret any inconvenience and that we were unable to share more information initially, as our focus was on investigation and restoring services as quickly as possible for our customers.

We have seen no evidence that customer data was taken or that there was a breach of confidentiality of that data. Also, there is no reason to believe that our customers have been infected through our platforms and applications. Our investigation is ongoing. We want to apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

 

The 2018 launch of Thomson Reuters Westlaw Edge was “buzz worthy” enough to get its own question in the Hits and Misses survey. I reviewed Westlaw Edge last July.  Readers were asked  to rank the value of Westlaw Edge features and to indicate whether their organizations had purchased Westlaw Edge… and if they hadn’t, to explain why.

Last  week  AALL announced that the Westlaw Edge Statutory and Regulatory  redlining feature “statutes compare and regulations compare” was given the prestigious “Product of the Year” Award. The readers of this blog agree. In the recent “Hits and Misses”  Survey,  Statutory and Regulatory Compare  was voted the most valuable feature in the new Westlaw Edge Product.

Statutes and Regulations Compare. I have no doubt that developing the technology for aligning statutes and regulations for a year over year comparison was is quite challenging. But  I can’t help but wonder if  this feature gets the award for being the most accessible and easy to explain to attorneys. The results smack you right in the timesheet. The resulting redline triggers an immediate gut understanding of the time saved compared to cobbling together a redline in a Word document… assuming you can easily locate the  the right statutory  text from the years you need to compare.

Citation Risk Analysis which came in third may be the most sophisticated new offering – but it offers a solution to a problem which was well… invisible to most lawyers. It almost requires a chart to explain what the “citation risk” is actually doing. It is the PHD of citation analysis products. It flags when an apparently valid precedent within a cited case has been indirectly over ruled in subsequent cases… as in  a lawyer’s  ‘eyes glaze over” before you have finished the first sentence of your multi-paragraph explanation.  And yet I am enough of a research geek to recognize the brainpower that went in to mapping the problem and the “Citation Risk” solution.

Analytics  came in second – even though analytics is the hottest and fastest growing segment of  legal research… But understanding this kind of data has a learning curve and until now lawyers have practiced law without it. I suspect that most lawyers won’t get the value of a “time to motion grant” chart until a client pushes an analytics dossier on his firm across the table for the first time.

WestSearch Plus – came in fourth. Frankly I am shocked that this wasn’t more highly ranked. It offers the first version of “Westlaw Answers” which utilizes AI in delivering answers to certain types of legal questions e.g. elements of a cause of action.  Westlaw had previously launched a version of Westlaw Answers which delivered “human curated” answers. Westlaw Answers in Edge not only uses AI but it can also deliver answers to analytics queries posed in natural language–which no other product offers.

The problem may be that “search” simply doesn’t “wow” people anymore… especially the search experts that read this blog. But I have been a legal researcher long enough to appreciate the trajectory  of  increasingly more sophisticated technologies and algorithms  powering  Westlaw since its inception. Westlaw has emphasized in their marketing and products demos that WestSearch Plus delivers more targeted results than Westlaw Next.

To consumers WestSearch Plus marks progress along a continuum rather than a fundamentally new tool shining with a gloss of novelty.   As early as 1990 Westlaw launched an alternative to “Boolean research commands” with  Westlaw EZ Access – a “fill in the blank” search option for partners. This was followed by the 1993 Westlaw is Natural WIN campaign marking the launch of the first natural language version of Westlaw.

WestSearch Plus is an excellent search tool – it may deliver more targeted search results and ultimately save lawyers time — but so far Thomson Reuters has not conducted a study to document the efficiencies delivered by the search engine.

To Buy Or Not To Buy

The majority of respondents indicated that they have not yet bought Westlaw Edge and have no plans to purchase in 2019.

Here are the Most Common Reasons:

    • Cost: 41% of non-purchaser respondents indicated that cost was the major factor in their decision.
    • No Clear ROI: was the factor mentioned by 24% of the non- purchasers.

Other factors noted by non-purchasers were: the cancellation of Westlaw prior to the launch of Edge (10%) prior purchase of Lexis Machina for analytics (5%).

Does it need to be stated? Show Me the ROI! If you have a product with a high price tag you need to deliver  a clear and compelling ROI message. Thomson Reuters could have rolled Westlaw Edge into existing contracts and allowed people to experience the value before tacking on the “up charge” during the  contract renewal. They could have offered it at a moderate price increase to ease people into the value of the product. It appears that Thomson Reuters has set the highest bar of all for themselves: High price point – supported by anecdotes rather than data.

How is it that in 2019 in the “age of analytics” – vendors have so much difficulty documenting value. Thomson Reuters is not alone here – none of their competitors Lexis, Bloomberg Law or Wolters Kluwer produce any efficiency or outcome studies to support their products and pricing. Thomson Reuters has in the past produced some very interesting value charts for Practical Law and “Dealproof” products but none to illustrate Westlaw driven efficiency.

It is time for  vendors to  justify the cost of  their products with some ROI data. If WestSearch Plus, Lexis Advance or Bloomberg Law “points of law” are making associates more efficient – show me the data!   And if you can’t invest in an ROI study to justify the cost  you are asking customers to pay — it makes me wonder if you really believe that your products can deliver the value which you continually promise.

Here are links to the prior Hits and Misses Posts

Part 1: Terminal Outrage.

Part 2: Best New Products and Features

Part 3: Best New Analytics Products

Late last year  Fastcase announced a partnership with the American Immigration Lawyers Association to publish a new biannual publication. Today they delivered on that promise with the launch of the AILA Law Journal. Immigration is a “hot topic” and the first issue of the journal include seven articles written by leading experts. Topics include: the renunciation of U.S. citizenship, Central American asylum seekers, travel ban waivers and extraordinary ability adjudications.

“We are proud to bring this important and pertinent expert content to AILA members and the wider legal community as the result of a collaborative effort with our long-term friends and partners at AILA,” said Full Court Press Publisher Morgan Morrissette Wright. “The editors and contributors working on the journal have assembled a deeply interesting collection of insights about the rapidly changing legal issues facing immigration attorneys and their clients today.”

The AILA Law Journal is published by The Fastcase publishing arm Full Court Press and is available to all AILA members for free on AILA’s website. AILALink subscribers can also access the AILA Law Journal on the AILALink database. Outside of the complimentary digital subscription, AILA members can also access the AILA Law Journal by purchasing a print subscription for $49 a year, which includes up to three copies of each issue.

Non-AILA members, can purchase individual issues in print or digital download formats for $60 in the online Fastcase Bookstore. There is also a combined print and digital option available for non-members for $99 a year. This option includes up to three copies of each issue and unlimited access to the journal on Fastcase’s online legal research system. Organizations of over 10 users may purchase a one-year combination subscription for $299 which includes up to five copies of each issue of the print AILA Law Journal, plus unlimited access to all current and future issues on Fastcase’s online legal research system.

 

 

Westlaw Edge Analytics was  voted best new analytics product in the 2018-2019 Dewey B Strategic Hits and Misses survey of DBS readers. Runners Up Included  Lexis Context 2nd, Bloomberg Law Attorney Analytics 3rd, Fastcase Docket Alarm 4th and Lex Machina Contracts module 5th place respectively.  Gavelytics deserves honorable mention as the product receiving the most  “write in” votes. My apologies for inadvertently omitting Gavelytics from the analytics product list.

How Do You Know What Product Is Best For Your Needs? When online research products were gaining a foothold in legal research, the only variation between products was how far back does the caselaw go and how quickly are the new cases loaded. The dates of coverage and speed of updating are only two of dozens of additional variables which much be considered in comparing analytics products. While there has been an explosion in legal analytics products it is almost impossible to make a direct comparison between any of them. Some focus on judges precedent others focus on a judges motion history. Some compare litigation history by attorney others compare only law firms — others provide no analytics on either. Some normalize party names, most products do not. Some products provide data on damages and remedies other do not. Some cover federal courts, others focus on 50  state court data— some provide analytics only one state. Some are single issue providing data on only one topic.

The Documentation Challenge – Which Product Has the Best Documentation?

I can’t recall another research product segment where the products are likely to rise or fall based on the quality of the documentation. If lawyers do not understand the parameters and the limitations of the data delivered in a product – they cannot effectively interpret the results. IF they misunderstand the data and misinterpret the meaning of the data on behalf of a client – the consequences could be catastrophic.

In light of these considerations I asked readers which analytics vendors has the best and worst documentation to support the effective use of their product

The results:

  •               Lex Machina has the BEST documentation
  •               Bloomberg Law has the WORST documentation

Coming Next:  Westlaw Edge, Competitive Intelligence and KM survey results.

Prior Hits and Misses posts:

Part 1:Terminal Outrage: The Results of the 2018-19 Hits and Misses Survey

Part 2 : Best New Products and Features

If you  were unable to attend the live presentation of this program at Legal Tech  in NY in February, the program will be repeated as a webinar co-sponsored by the  PLLIP Education and Professional Development Committee and AALL Continuing Professional Education Committee.

Date: April 25th, 2019

Time: Noon EST

Program Description Costs are exploding. Staffing is tight. Budgets need to be maintained. Whether you buy or build new legal knowledge and technology products, there is no guarantee of adoption. Email announcements remain unopened. The promise of food will not get associates to a conference room anymore. What is the answer? A panel of seasoned knowledge professionals will outline some of the techniques they use to drive, monitor, and assess digital adoption of new tools.

  • Speakers:
    Cynthia Brown, Director – Research Services – Littler Mendelson P.C.
    Jean O’Grady, Senior Director of Research & Knowledge – DLA Piper LLP
    June Liebert, Firmwide Director of Library and Research Services – Sidley Austin LLP
    Roger Scalbeck, Associate Dean & Professor of Law, University of Richmond School of Law Library
    Cheryl Smith, Director of Information Services – O’Melveny & Myers LLP

Registration: at this link 

Contact:
Lindsey Carpino lcarpino@sidley.com and Denise Pagh dpagh@orrick.com
Education and Professional Development Committee Co-Chairs

 

Note: My apologies- this was originally posted with a mistaken reference to Intelligize instead of Intelliconnect.

Last week I reported the first installment of results from the Dewey B Strategic Hits and Misses Survey in Terminal Outrage: Results of the 2018-19 Hits and Misses Survey Pt.1.

Today I am reporting on the best New Products by various categories — excluding Analytics Products which will be reported in a separate post.

Here are the results:
Best New Product You became aware of in 2018: Winner: Thomson Reuters Westlaw Edge. Products from “start ups” Gavelytics and Courtroom Insight ranked second and third respectively.

Best New Product or Product Realignment From a Major Legal Publisher: Winner: Wolters Kluwer Cheetah completely replaces Intelliconnect.

Best New KM or Drafting Tool: Winner: (Thomson Reuters) Practical Law Automated Documents

Best New Competitive Intelligence Product: Winner: Manzama Insights

THE CHARTS:

Best New Product:

Best New Product or Product Alignment from A Major Vendor:

 

 

Best New KM or Drafting Tool:


Best New Competitive Intelligence or News Product:

Note Re Competitive Intelligence Chart: 27 people selected other for their answer to the Competitive Intelligence question — making it the second highest response. However after reviewing the comments no single product was named more than two times. All products which were named were launched more than five years ago.Stay Tuned:

 

Future posts will look at “Hits and Miss” survey results which cover Westlaw Edge, Analytics products and what products people plan to cancel or purchase.

The major takeaway from the 2018-19 Dewey B Strategic Hits and Misses Survey is that consumers of legal information regard 2018 as “a miss.” The problem wasn’t so much the products—although products play an important role in triggering the discontent. The major problem is the behavior of legal publishers. Legal publishing is a mature market and yet vendors expect to grow their profit margins without having a good understanding of what their customers consider to be valuable. They are also indifferent to customer budget constraints and the demand for a customized product mix based on a specific firm’s practice needs and budget.

The New Survey Format This is the first time I have conducted the survey in its current format. There is a lot to digest – therefore I will be presenting the results in five or six separate blogposts. Today’s post is “Part 1.”

The survey was open from January 9, 2019 to March 9, 2019. There were 150 survey respondents. Almost every respondent added additional comments to at least one of their answers. There was deep engagement by participants – people were unloading. It is nonetheless an informal non-scientific survey which offers insights into the “pulse” of the legal information marketplace. Thanks to all the readers who took time to respond.

 Worst Vendor Relations Move/ Worst Product Change or Realignment:

Today I will cover the two questions from the survey which address “the most important development of 2018 which will impact negotiations and relationship with vendors” and the “worst product change or realignment in 2018.”  These two issues are connected.

 

The Bloomberg BNA product realignment was hands-down rated the most significant development in legal publishing. It was also rated the worst product change in legal publishing. This was in a year where they faced stiff competition from Lexis being accused of product bundling by members of the American Association of Law Libraries and outrage Thomson Reuters over the pricing of Westlaw Edge followed by widespread WESTLAW layoffs and. The question itself does not reveal if this is positive or negative but when paired with the selection of Bloomberg Law’s BNA product realignment as the worst development it becomes clear this was not a compliment.


How Did the BloombergBNA Deal Go So Wrong? In 2011 I practically gushed with enthusiasm in a post about BLaw’s acquisition of the Bureau of National Affairs. I predicted that “The long term success of the BNA/Bloomberg deal may lie in Bloomberg’s ability to retain the BNA “brain trust” – reporters who had deep regulatory expertise in the areas they reported on.”

The  recent BNA content reorganization led to:

o The disappearance of almost all of the iconic BNA newsletters.
o The elimination of a large swath of the BNA editors and reporters
o No clear description of the content migration plan. It would have taken a very large spread sheet to explain where content was going – but no one bothered to create one.
o No clear explanation of how content from former products could be located in Bloomberg Law – therefore it was impossible to understand the “black box” pricing.
o The naïve expectation that lawyers are interested in curating their own “newsfeeds” rather than reading an editorially created newsletter.

It has been reported that Bloomberg paid almost $1 billion dollars for BNA. How did they not have the strategy to save it eight year’s later? Bloomberg is a news organization! They wouldn’t have to look far to find a spectacularly successful legal news model: Law360 (Which I profiled in  “The Improbable Rise of Law 360.”) Perhaps BNA’s deep analysis needed to be trimmed to briefer “news bites.” But why couldn’t this be done while retaining the deep subject expertise and insights of the BNA news team?



What Does This All Mean for Wolters Kluwer and Fastcase. I guess surveys are like news headlines – “if it bleeds it leads.” Wolters Kluwer and Fastcase didn’t enrage their customers this year and the importance of their activities didn’t register with the irate readers of this blog. Wolters Kluwer – finally retired the Intelliconnect Platform and replaced it with the Cheetah platform. Intelliconnect was riddled with problems from its launch and most of the information community sighed a collective “good riddance”  to the product. Cheetah is a much more robust platform. But that is not the sum total of Wolters Kluwer’s smart moves. Bloomberg’s seeming abandonment of BNA newsletters will surely be seized as an opportunity by Wolters Kluwer which has a similar regulatory expertise and is well positioned fill the regulatory news vacuum left by BNA.

Fastcase’s Transformation Was the  Sleeper Story of the Year
Fastcase will be 20 years old in 2019, although it  still has the gloss of a “start up.” It remain a private company and co-founders Ed Walters and Phil Rosenthal remain deeply engaged with their customers. It has been years since the presidents of Lexis and Westlaw mingled with customers at the annual AALL conference. Ed and Phil are not only at the conference – they host a 3 day party! 2018 was in a year when it became clear that Fastcase is redefining themselves as a full-service competitor to Lexis and Westlaw. They entered into multiple alliances to acquire secondary source material, they launched their own publishing imprint Full Court Press, they acquired an analytics company Docket Alarm, they are moving into legal news with several alliances including Lexblog. This week they added expert witness data from Courtroom Insight and JurisPro… to name a few….

There was a time when many believed, including myself, that BloombergLaw would be the “game changer” in lthe egal research market. But when the product launched in the midst of the “Great Recession” the price was too high. After a year, they had only signed firmwide licenses at two ALM 100 firms.  At lower price point – I am confident that they could have had major market share today. Fastcase took the opposite tact – low price, low key, customer centric marketing, slow and steady growth across the US through alliances with bar associations and small firms.

And here we are in 2019 with a marketplace hungry for a disruptor.

Upcoming “Hits and Misses” Blogposts:

o Hits and Misses In Analytics Products
o Best New Products
o Westlaw Edge Hit or Miss?
o What are readers purchasing?
o What are readers cancelling?