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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org