All Posts by Michael Feit

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

Feb 01

Is Lexis Cool Now?

By Michael Feit | Feit Consulting

Lexis has gone through a lot of changes over the years. 

After being first to market with an online research platform–years before Westlaw–it long-ago lost is pre-eminent position.  As recently as 5 years ago, the only talk of Lexis was what on earth is going on?  Here at Feit we just assumed they were going to be spun off or acquired.  Not really the buzz you would want in the market.

But something changed.  Lexis’ parent company RELX doubled-down.  They opened up their checkbook and snapped up several of the hottest Silicon Valley upstarts in the legal information space while upgrading their troubled LexisAdvance platform.  Lexis spent over a billion dollars by some estimates in the process.

So, Lexis should be cool now, right?  Unfortunately, our survey, and our clients, tell us a different story.

A very high percentage (32%) of our survey respondents were extremely or moderately dissatisfied.  Additionally, there was a large volume of vocal, disgruntled comments about Lexis bundling practice.  Making matters worse, our survey indicated those dissatisfied customers are planning to eliminate Lexis.

Lexis now offers products that most firms consider indispensable, but there is no harmonization of these new assets.   Additionally, there is a lack of sensible pricing that resonates with customers.  With these assets in place, developing customized solutions that truly meet law firm’s needs should be the easy part.  Lexis needs to regain the customer love once again, and a good start would be to re-build relationships.

Rather than just focusing on revenue growth, critical to Lexis’ success is C-Suite leadership that builds on the needs of the law firm market.   Real success is having your customers believe that Lexis’ products can improve their workflow and profitability.

To be cool, Lexis will need ultimately to deliver on integration of these new products into LexisAdvance.   Lexis should focus on client development and retention, developing pricing and product programs that resonate with clients.  Lexis needs to make its customers feel good again.

If ‘coolness’ is attained, we don’t know how long it can be maintained.  Technology is evolving at an exceedingly rapid pace.  But at least for now, however, Lexis has an aura that is semi-cool which they haven’t had for a long time.  We see a great opportunity for Lexis to build on this and compete and win the coolness competition.

Michael Walsh, if you are reading this give me a call, we should talk.

Dec 12

Sole Provider Trend: Alive and Kicking?

By Michael Feit | Feit Consulting

Today, less than half of larger firms retain both LexisNexis and Westlaw.

When we last surveyed information services professionals in 2016, here is how that data looked:

We were curious when we launched the 2019 Legal Information Vendor Market Survey how this panned out for the law firms – and from the data we are gathering so far, the sole provider trend is still very much alive at 54%.  Even more importantly, however, firms that have gone sole provider are more satisfied with the remaining vendor as shown below:

Don’t miss out on the complete results!  ALL participants receive a complimentary copy of the Survey results and participating takes less than 10 minutes. Click here.

Dec 07

The 2019 Survey So Far: Check out the Surprising Preliminary Results!

By Michael Feit | Feit Consulting

Thus far the survey has produced some very interesting findings, like these surprising preliminary trends in vendor sentiment:

Did Bloomberg overplay its hand?  Can Westlaw do no wrong in the eyes of information professionals?  The impassioned sentiments we are capturing in our current Market Survey are very polarized compared to our 2016 survey.  We are seeing a market that has, in fact, changed considerably.

Clearly Bloomberg’s bundling move and revised price structure is coming up short and incurring a huge amount of dissatisfaction that may prove impossible to overcome.  With regard to Westlaw Edge, most firms are adamant that they will not pay for the new, technologically advanced services offered, but will wait until Westlaw Edge is included in their current subscriptions.

Westlaw and Bloomberg may have been playing the wrong game on the wrong field – but we will have to see how the data continues to paint this picture.

We hope you take a few minutes and participate in the Survey here.  The Survey is closing soon on December 15th so don’t miss out!  ALL of our Survey respondents receive a complimentary copy of the full results, and this alone will be more than worth your while as you develop your strategy for 2019.

Nov 14

How and Why Your Firm Can Make the Case for the Modern Library

By Michael Feit | Feit Consulting

Change is a constant in the legal industry.

Clients are not only applying tremendous downward pressure on price but are driving their law firms to provide more value.  And they want that value delivered faster – and cheaper.

These pressures affect the modern law library as it is a core component of any firm’s ability to deliver client value.  Firms know this, but are challenged to know where to start when investigating how their information services compare to peer firms.  Here are just a few of the levers law firm libraries need to assess:

  • Work-flow Efficiencies
  • Using Technology for Service & Process Improvement
  • New Generations of Research Tools
  • Showcasing Value through Metrics
  • Remote Access – Resources on the go
  • Inter-Departmental Collaboration

This assessment can best be accomplished with a thorough audit of the library to evaluate current practices.  A library audit can be performed internally, but results in these situations are often better achieved by a third party consultancy.  They not only bring an objective, unbiased presence to the audit process, but also deliver a broader, industry-wide insight.

When Feit Consulting leads a library audit, we deliver an integrated project approach.  Through a combination of surveys, interviews and site visits, we provide analysis and a comprehensive plan to enhance the delivery of legal information. Specifically:

  • Project meetings with firm.
  • Stakeholders are identified.
  • Surveys, interviews and site visits are calendared with key stakeholders.
  • Feit Consulting on-site visits include:
  • Review physical operations.
  • One-on-one interviews with: Attorneys, IT, Marketing, Administrator, Library Staff, Paralegal/Investigator
  • Key information is gathered including budgets, library AP, library shelf list, existing policies and other information as determined.

With these insights from library users, Feit industry experts perform a S.W.O.T. analysis, to understand current strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.  The SWOT analysis will identify those things that the library is currently doing well, as well as those areas where there is room for improvement.

A library audit requires some attention and time, but it is an opportunity for information professionals to ensure that they are deploying best-practices to maximize the value that the library brings to the firm.

Nov 13

Lexis’s Legal Pricing Strategy Has Haters, But Might Be a Risk Worth Taking

By Michael Feit | Feit Consulting , Pricing , Vendors

This article appeared in Legaltech News on 6/25/18.

By Michael Feit
mike@feitconsulting.com

Sometimes, there’s not much that can help the medicine go down, and when there’s not, it becomes clear the rather repugnant taste of it (the medicine). This is a metaphor for the now center-stage discussion taking place regarding the pricing practices of LexisNexis and the cease and desist letter prepared by AALL which argues that Lexis’s recent tactics breach anti-competitive covenants rendering the new sales practices illegal or at least render the tactics at odds with the AALL Guide to Fair Business Practices for Legal Publishers.

LexisNexis and Westlaw dominate the lion’s share of online research and print platforms for all law firms of all sizes; in fact, most large firms historically adopted a practice of providing both services to its attorneys. Today, less than half of larger firms retain both. Prior to the recession law firms were able to pass-through and recover >80% of their Lexis and Westlaw costs. However, since the recession, both vendors have been in defense mode. Online cost recovery has dropped to <35% and firms have been increasingly realizing retaining both vendors is unnecessary. The evaluation of the sole provider option is not just a viable option for most firms—it is a necessity.

Having discontinued the ideal world of standardized pay-as-you-go retail pricing by 2010, both have been operating in secretive pricing practices and leveraging terms that vary greatly from firm to firm—not the least of which is pricing Am Law and NYC firms disproportionately higher than the rest of the market, albeit ad hoc.

Therefore, LexisNexis recently leveraged the power of a certain suite of its products–including Lex Machina, Law 360, Wall Street Journal and American Lawyer subscriptions–to the sale of Lexis Advance; an unpopular move within the information services community, the move is a tactical effort to win sales over Westlaw abut which subsequently triggered the outcry from the information services community.

What Lexis is doing is really not that unusual in this market. In an ideal world, yes, the industry’s two dominant players–Lexis and Westlaw–would publish retail pricing, and firms could pick and choose buffet-style which products they wanted based on their practice needs and budget. Unfortunately, that ideal world does not exist, and has not existed for some time. Both Lexis and Westlaw are mature products in a saturated market trying to hold on to a revenue stream that has nowhere to go but down.

Ever since the release of WestlawNext, Westlaw has been the more popular platform. Lexis, for some time, had an inferior interface that made Westlaw the go-to vendor at many firms that continued to have both vendors. Lexis, as a result, was then easier to cut because of low usage. Even when Lexis was retained, it typically was in the context of a large price concession.

On top of this, and symptomatic of a mature market, there are now many new tools and efficiencies that are cannibalizing usage–and new tools will continue to emerge and continue to cannibalize. Lexis has invested in several analytical tools, but artificial intelligence products, savvy analytical tools are all going to erode the use of Lexis and Westlaw, unless, of course these vendors continue to purchase all the new products entering the market.

For all these reasons and more, firms are vigorously debating the viability of operating with just one platform—and for the first time since the early 90’s, retaining just one of these vendors has become the norm. Our data shows 54% of large law firms have now, in fact, opted to retain only one vendor, with about 60% choosing Westlaw.

In a tangible way, there are winners and losers. Lexis would not be able to recover 7+ years of usage lost to WestlawNext without this tie-in tactic. Tying Lexis Advance to core products, such as Lex Machina, Law360 and print has made Lexis competitive once again versus Westlaw. While doing so is not building good will, customer service and satisfaction are not the primary aim of a mature vendor—the products just need to be indispensable and, for at least some firms, it appears that some are.

Elimination of Lexis is no longer easy. Firms that have recently eliminated Lexis have found it uncomfortable to live without the peripheral products. Some have come back into the Lexis fold and others are contemplating coming back. Firms who would have eliminated Lexis are now thinking twice about that outcome.

Does this make Lexis the winner? In the short run, potentially yes—meaning, this strategy is working for Lexis to preserve its client base and revenue stream for now. However, Lexis runs a huge risk that firms who are forced to live without their other products might find that life-style relatively easy and may never return. Currently, Lexis is banking on that not being the case but only time will tell.

Nov 09

How to Not be Hostage to Your Vendor

By Michael Feit | Feit Consulting

By Michael Feit

The recently deployed pricing tactic by Lexis only served to add more heat to an already vigorous debate regarding the viability successfully operating with just Lexis or just Westlaw.  For the first time since the early 1990’s, retaining just one of these vendors has become the norm with 54% of large law firms having opted to retain only one vendor–and about 60% of those choosing Westlaw.

A vital takeaway from the current debate on pricing tactics is that no firm should be hostage to their vendor.  Well-established customers are, on average, treated the worst by their providers and receive the most unfavorable terms and conditions.  New technologies, including AI-based platforms, will continue to erode the consumption-based model, and for a host of other reasons, firms should place themselves in a position of having options.

In a perfect world, Lexis and Westlaw would publish retail pricing, and firms could pick and choose which products they wanted based on their practice needs and budget.  This ideal world does not exist today, as both vendors have discontinued standardized pay-as-you-go retail pricing. Instead all they offer is secret pricing and terms that vary greatly from firm to firm.

The good news is, there are options! You don’t need to be a hostage to your vendor if you have enough time to evaluate the options. The evaluation process in itself can prove fruitful, sharing pertinent information that can be used in the negotiation process.

There are a great number of elements to examine, from contracts to content, not to mention the strong reactions of users to fundamental system changes. Lexis and Westlaw have both successfully infiltrated law firms’ cultures and infrastructures over their many years of service.

The idea of transitioning to sole provider can be daunting, however, considering the many individuals and processes that might be impacted. There are a great number of elements to examine, from contracts to content, not to mention the strong reactions of users to fundamental system changes.  Lexis and Westlaw have both successfully infiltrated law firms’ cultures and infrastructures over their many years of service.

Yet, the pay-off in taking a deep look at these factors can be exceptional.  A mid-size US law firm with favorable pricing will spend well over half a million dollars annually to retain both vendors.  There was a time not long ago when firms could pass through online legal information costs to clients, making Lexis and Westlaw essentially free.  That is no longer the norm.  We have entered into a new paradigm.

Where to start:

  • Get the pricing intel to determine your pricing is favorable. Compare contracts with market intel in Feit’s white paper, Optimizing Legal Information Pricing.
  • Assess the viability of the sole-provider option. Evaluate the option at your organization. Develop a business case. If needed, check out this resource, The Sole Provider Playbook.
  • Execute and implement. Consider hiring a consultant to manage the process.
  • Exploring the sole-provider option is a healthy step in revising your legal-information strategy and can provide insightful information for contract negotiations. If you choose to do it alone, these resources are an advantage to legal-information decision makers on what steps and considerations should be made in the process.
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