The Westlaw/Lexis duopoly has broken down.
Most firms no longer accept the notion that there is a need to have both vendors. Vendor elimination may come with some initial hassles and inefficiencies. When properly managed and successfully executed, the hassles associated with vendor elimination quickly fade, and an abundance of new efficiencies are created. This is a rare opportunity for firms to free up considerable resources, allowing for the purchase of new and exciting complementary products.
When Feit Consulting first started writing The Sole Provider Playbook, our view was that for a majority of large law firms, the sole-provider option would not be truly viable. After diving into the factors contributing to the sole-provider trend, we have changed our minds. With most firms recovering less than 50% of their legal information costs, it no longer makes sense to have both vendors.
When you consider the redundancy, coupled with the mounting evidence that large law firms are successfully making the change, the case becomes clear: the sole-provider option is not only viable at most firms, including the largest, but it is actually becoming the norm. And, perhaps surprisingly, the vast majority of firms that have made the change are happier.
While eliminating either Lexis or Westlaw is not appropriate for all firms, we believe that every firm must at least entertain the idea as part of regular due diligence and good business practices. Assessing sole-provider viability provides a firm an opportunity to review, revise and refine its legal information strategy and potentially save significant money. Unfortunately, even for firms wishing to remain dual-provider, the short-term kick-out of a vendor might be the only way to achieve reasonable pricing.
It is hard to imagine a law firm emerging today choosing to purchase both Lexis and Westlaw, given unreasonably high pricing for redundant products. Similarly, there is no reason for your firm to feel imprisoned by the traditional dual-provider model. Implementing the change to sole-provider can be a challenging process, but the payoff can be tremendous.
For the first time since the early 1990’s, retaining just Lexis or Westlaw has become the norm. Today, nearly 51% of large law firms have opted to retain only one vendor. There are roughly 400 law firms with over 100 attorneys in the US. Within the last year, Feit Consulting collected data on 389 of these firms. The majority, 51% (198), now only have one vendor. 75 large law firms have eliminated Westlaw, and 123 eliminated Lexis. As contracts are negotiated continuously, there is expected minor fluctuations in both directions. *Data Source: 2016 Feit Consulting Research.
In Feit Consulting’s Sole Provider Experience Survey, 50 firms responded to the question, “How did you handle lost content?” Surprisingly, only 56% of firms needed to purchase print, and 22% said lost content was not an issue.
Selected comments from the survey results:
“Actually kept necessary print. It is getting harder to encourage use of local law library, because they are moving content online also, if they don’t get licensing for visiting researchers then we don’t have access.”
“Also utilize colleagues who can provide assistance if necessary. It’s reciprocal.”
“We have a membership with the county law library, which allows us to access some Lexis content.”
“We heavily evaluated content across providers to make sure that in our practice areas we did not create content gaps. We surveyed attorneys in practice groups to aid us in making these decisions. We did compare-and-contrasts between vendors, and we had focus groups to address individual concerns of power users.”
“We spend more on our outside document company than we did before.”
To purchase the full survey results, contact Feit.