A Librarian’s Perspective: Concerns of Eliminating a Vendor

By Michael Feit | Sole Provider

Apr 17

As a former research librarian who has worked at various large law firms across the country, I always looked forward to visits from our vendors, in particular our regular weekly Lexis and Westlaw rep visits. Throughout my many years of working in law firms, I developed numerous friendships and truly considered our Westlaw and Lexis reps to be part of our extended library team. During this time I always considered how difficult it must be for law library directors to make the decision to go sole-provider, especially when so often there are strong relationships in place with both vendor reps and account managers. Today, that seems to be less of an issue, as there has been an increase in turnover of Lexis and Westlaw reps and decreased firm visits.

Law library directors are under significant pressure from administrators tasking them with saving their firm money, all the while having to deal with the pressure and demands of attorneys and paralegals who are terrified of losing content if one of the vendors is eliminated, and keeping their users happy. It is critical to take emotions out of the equation when making critical decisions about vendors and focus on what is best for your law firm and users. With so much duplicate content on both Westlaw and Lexis, cutting one of these providers can mean significant savings to law firms. As a new member of the Feit Consulting team, reading our white paper The Sole Provider Playbook was eye-opening for me, as I didn’t realize all of the steps involved when going sole-provider and the length of time the entire process can take.

Some things I learned:

1.) Eliminating Westlaw is a much more difficult task than eliminating Lexis. Westlaw’s popularity is one of the most difficult hurdles to overcome.

2.) Feit Consulting forecasts that by 2018, 58% of large law firms will have eliminated a vendor. For the first time since the 1990’s, retaining just one vendor has become the norm.

3.) Creating small 2-4 person task forces, comprised of librarians, associates, IT staff, etc., can help make the transition to a sole provider easier and more inclusive. Ideas for task forces include ones on Vendor Strategies, Content Hurdles, Purchasing, and a User Buy-In task force. The more inclusive the process is, the easier the transition will be for everyone involved. Heavy users of the vendors should be included.

4.) Today, there are numerous on-demand research services that that can serve as an excellent tool for access to lost content.

If you are new to the process and want to be prepared, this step-by-step inclusive guide is essential reading to help you navigate all of the intricacies of vendor elimination. Law firms should carefully evaluate their need to retain both vendors. Our Sole Provider Playbook will not only guide you, but will empower you, through the sole-provider process.

About the Author

Michael Feit earned his J.D. from the Loyola University School of Law in Chicago and was an executive at Westlaw before founding Feit Consulting 16 years ago. Feit Consulting partners with law firm administrators and legal information professionals to optimize vendor contracts and the management and delivery of legal information resources by providing leading-edge, customized solutions. Contact Michael at mike@feitconsulting.com