Negotiating with the vendors can be a frustrating, drawn-out and often unsatisfying process. For many of our clients, negotiating ranks with tax-time on everyone’s list of fun things to do.
One of the key emotions we see in clients approaching the end of a contract with either Westlaw or Lexis is dread. So, a longer contract with fewer renewals sounds like a great idea.
However, with rare exceptions, a long-term contract is among the worst paths a firm can choose, for several reasons.
The first reason seems obvious: change. Technology and pricing are continuously changing. You wouldn’t buy a plan that kept you from upgrading your phone for 5 years, would you? Additionally, prices are always changing, and for Lexis and Westlaw that change has been downward.
The second reason is trust. If you don’t trust your vendor enough to deliver a good deal every 2-3 years, why on Earth would you believe a 4-5 year offer is better?
Finally, who knows what the legal information landscape will look like in 5 years? Generally, a longer contract benefits the vendor. For legal information contracts, we always advise keeping the term to within your near- and long-term forecasts, generally 3 years or fewer.