Aug 21

Collection Re-balancing Part II: Facilitating the Move from Print to Digital in Law Firm Libraries and Information Services

By Feit Consulting | Feit Consulting

Stuart Zimmerman and Becky Bowman

In part I of this 2-part report, we looked at the drive to enhance digitization and provided some top reasons, challenges and paths to success. 

In part II, we drill down into some details as how to approach print reduction strategically—as well as a few reality checks that can be helpful along the way.

What to cut? How to decide?

The determination of which print resources are ripe for online replacement begins with an examination of current print spend by vendor in tandem with a review of online holdings. A tracking spreadsheet [sample below] is a useful tool for this process.

      Sample tracking spreadsheet 

Most firms will find that the bulk of their print spend is with some combination of the big four vendors; Thomson Reuters, Lexis, Bloomberg and Wolters Kluwer. Each of these vendors offers robust online services that include the majority of their print publications.

Using Resource Types [see box below] as a rough guide, calculate and plot the cancellation potential (high or low) of each title on the spreadsheet which, when sorted, will surface those titles with high potential for cancellation. Continue working down the list of print by vendor, reviewing online options and plotting cancellation potential. Not every print resource has a digital equivalent.

Licensing terms can vary greatly from vendor to vendor. Make sure that contracts/licenses are adequate to cover all who need access to each resource. Identify gaps in online content and/or any material contract limitations and see if there is a need to expand current contracts or purchase additional licenses.

Once the list of titles with high cancellation potential has been generated and the online alternatives identified and vetted the emphasis moves to a communication campaign to reach users who will be impacted by the elimination of those print resources with high cancellation potential.

Many users will be fine with the move to online and some will express concerns. Listen carefully while making final determinations. This is an excellent time to learn how resources are being used, and the value these resources bring to the firm, directly from the end-users themselves.

Reality Checks

  • The process of reducing print involves series of compromises and occasional hard decisions to navigate sometimes-competing goals. Be flexible and pick your battles.
  • Not everything needed is available online and just because something is available online doesn’t mean that it is accessible. Costs, inflexible licensing terms, and incompatible technologies can thwart the best plans.
  • It is not uncommon for firms to increase spending on digital media in order to realize print-cutting goals. Review budget impacts of needed contract changes, additional licenses, etc.
  • When needed publications are not available in digital/online formats, options are fairly limited; purchase and maintain print or rely on third-party sources.
  • Firms will need the flexibility to accommodate some print to achieve maximum efficiency.  

Conclusion

While there will never be a completely paper-free library, law firms are realizing good success in rebalancing their collections and actively managing the usage of online and digital resources while reducing their reliance on print to best fit their specific goals.

Feit Consulting offers Contemporary Library Solutionsreviewing law library operations and assessing collections to identify opportunities to improve utilization of information resources, maximize efficiencies and improve ROI.

 Contact Feit Consulting today to set up a free consultation

Aug 15

Collection Re-balancing Part I: Facilitating the Move from Print to Digital in Law Firm Libraries and Information Services

By Feit Consulting | Feit Consulting

Stuart Zimmerman and Becky Bowman

Introduction

The competitive need for digitization has intensified across all industries—and this need is not sparing the legal industry.  If it’s any solace, it is not just law firms that are feeling the pressure of change.

In this two-part series, we outline the primary points to consider when rebalancing the print/digital ratio of a law firm library collection, along with an approach to analyzing current print spend to identify titles with the highest potential for cancellation.

Reasons for reducing print

  • Reduce library footprint – Print libraries require lots of space which is expensive in law firms.
  • Eliminate duplication – Online services, especially from the big four legal vendors, typically include the same or comparable information online as in their print publications.
  • Reduce environmental impact – The production and shipment of print products increases firms’ carbon footprints.
  • Serve users in multiple locations - Multiple print copies are expensive; online easier to share/scale across large operations.
  • Reduce upkeep costs – Print requires upkeep including ordering, receiving, processing and maintenance.
  • Increase efficiency - Digital resources offer search and collaboration features that can improve research and project efficiency.

Challenges in reducing print

  • Attorney preference/resistance to change - Attorneys are famously change-averse, especially if they see change as an imposition with no benefit to them. 
  • Licensing terms & costs - Contracts may need to be expanded and/or additional licensing purchased to ensure access and compliance to digital resources. Ability to negotiate new or alternative terms varies widely by vendor.
  • Existing print commitments - Contracts that commit firm to purchasing a set level of print in exchange for discounts may limit options for reducing print.
  • Market instability - Increased competition between information vendors is resulting in market instability. Firms without access to one or more of the big four may need to purchase essential products in print in the absence of online access. Some vendors are tying essential/popular products to contracts for their online services thereby complicating choices.

Paths to Success

  • Communication is key to success. Seek input from print users while working through the process.
  • Leadership backing is critical. Firm leaders must be prepared to help make and communicate difficult decisions and manage reluctant lawyers.
  • Use as champions those attorneys already successfully using digital resources. Get testimonials, have them promote resources at practice group meetings, etc. Word-of-mouth campaigns can be very effective complements to other marketing efforts.
  • It is important to consider the firm’s online billing policies and practices and make any adjustments that may be needed.
  • Review firm’s practices and policies around office copies. Office copies are frequently heavily used for practice efficiency giving them a lower potential for elimination.
  • Prepare to transition print users to online alternatives. Make plans for impacted users to access new resources, including links, passwords, and training.
  • Follow up with key users in the weeks and months after implementation. Address issues and work to resolve them.

In part II, we drill down into some details as how to approach print reduction strategically—as well as a few reality checks that can be helpful along the way.

Aug 05

Is the Tide Turning in Summer Associate Vendor Preference? Our Survey Results Are In!

By Michael Feit | Feit Consulting

One of the key indicators for predicting vendor success year after year has been the preference of incoming summer associates for Westlaw or Lexis.  For the last 5+ years, Westlaw has overwhelmingly been preferred by incoming Summer Associates.

Feit’s 2019 Summer Associate Vendor Preference Mini-Survey results show that the tide may be turning. 

We asked U.S. law firm research departments to participate in a survey of their perception of Summer Associate legal information provider  preference/awareness. 

Our survey results show that, although Westlaw has maintained its dominance in regards to the awareness and preferences of incoming associates, Lexis is moving the needle.  According to the survey, Summer Associate preference for Lexis doubled - from 15% last year to 30% this year.

Check out a sneak peek of some of the data collected: 

Lexis’ strategic push to concentrate on law schools is critical for them to successfully compete with Westlaw.  While 30% is an improvement, their academic program has a long way to go before Westlaw is dethroned.

Get the full details from Summer Associate Vendor Preference Mini-Survey - you can purchase here.

Jul 29

When the Recession Hits, Is Your Legal Information Budget Recession-Proof?

By Michael Feit | Feit Consulting

It is not a question of ‘if’ but ‘when’ will the next recession hit. Although there is debate to be had on a potential timeline, a cloud of uncertainty hangs in the air whether 2020 might be when we see another recession.

Now is the time to be asking the questions:

  • What lessons were learned from the 2008 recession?
  • Is your legal information budget recession-proof?
  • What can we do better now to be better positioned in the face of the next economic downturn?

A lot has changed since 2008.  Prior to the previous recession, law firms generally retained both Lexis and Westlaw and were able to pass-through and recover >80% of their costs. However, since the recession, all of that has changed.  Online cost recovery has dropped to <35%, vendor products have proliferated and pricing has become increasingly secretive and complicated.

We’ve been working with clients to provide a recession-proofing of their legal information budgets for this very reason.  Like a good health check, the takeaways are valuable, even notwithstanding any negative market trigger events. 

We are analyzing and providing scenario planning under these circumstances:

  • Loss of attorneys
  • Loss of business/revenue decrease
  • Timelines for possible cut-backs at 10%, 25%, and 50%

Lastly, Feit experts are also providing recommendations that allow firms maximum flexibility in their planning.

If you’d like to learn more about how Feit can provide your firm with recession-proofing roadmap, please reach out to us here.

Jul 11

Edge: Failure or Masterstroke?

By Michael Feit | Feit Consulting

Our recent mini survey about Westlaw Edge and Lexis Context results are in, and it is interesting to compare the data to our forecast for Edge pricing. In our latest book, Optimizing Legal Information Pricing, we forecasted that roughly 20% of the market would purchase Edge within a year, at nearly 10% increases.

With almost a year under its belt, it appears that Edge adoption will be very close to our forecast. With 15% of Westlaw firms having already adopted, we think it is reasonable to expect that in the next 5 months Westlaw Edge will penetrate another 5% of the market.

The average Edge percentage price increase is slightly lower than the double-digit year-one increases we expected, coming in at 9%. Firms that have purchased the product are happy with it, but for the most part, they do not feel that Edge is a game-changer in the way that WestlawNext was.

So, has Edge been a failure or a masterstroke?

To understand the impact Edge sales have had on Westlaw revenue, we looked at the large law firm market segment (defined as firms with over 100 attorneys). We made some general assumptions about that population and for illustrative purposes, using a hypothetical average spend per attorney to come up with potential revenue impact for this segment. Please note this hypothetical does not match our actual price guidance for Westlaw. (You can find that guidance in our Optimizing Legal Information Pricing book here). Below are our assumptions:

  • 400 firms in the over 100 attorney segment
    • 80% of those firms have Westlaw
    • 320 firms have Westlaw
  • Average firm size is 250 attorneys
    • 80,000 attorneys total large law population with Westlaw
  • Hypothetical average spend per attorney for Westlaw in the market $175 per attorney per month
  • Hypothetical revenue to Westlaw for over 100 attorney law firm segment: $168 million

Our survey indicated that roughly 15% of the market has purchased Edge, which translates to 12,000 attorneys with the product. If their cost increased 9%, Westlaw's annual revenue grew roughly $2.2 million annually, or roughly only a 1.4% increase. If this 1.4% increase was the entire story, you'd probably call Edge a failure.

However, to really understand how well Westlaw has actually performed with Edge you need to consider who the real purchasers likely are. In our Optimizing book, we note that roughly 15% of the market is over-paying for Westlaw, by 150% or more. Although we have no way to correlate who each of those firms are, it is very likely that they are most of the early adopters of Edge. These firms tend to be early-adopters of all products and have less price resistance than the market in general.

If you assume that most of the early adopters of Edge have a spend per attorney that is vastly (>150%) above the market, Westlaw's incremental revenue grows to $6.8 million per year. This represents a 4% increase alone, just from Edge. If that is the case, Edge would be deemed a moderate success.

Beyond this, and likely the greatest impact to Westlaw is the ability to leverage Edge to lock-in and extend a majority of their highest-paying customers. Every Westlaw Edge discussion that is not a renewal (about 2/3rds) is a reason to drop into the firm and extend the agreement for another 3-5-year period, securing a very significant and otherwise vulnerable revenue stream.

In conclusion, although Westlaw Edge may seem to have had an unspectacular first year, the dollar value increase combined with the ability to extend existing contracts has bought valuable time for Westlaw to hold off potential threats from Lexis or Bloomberg - making Edge a masterstroke.

Jun 04

Mini-Survey: Westlaw Edge and Lexis Context

By Michael Feit | Feit Consulting

There’s a lot of buzz around Analytics/AI products like Westlaw Edge and Lexis Context—but to what degree are firms actually purchasing these products and, more importantly, are they happy with their purchase?  

We decided to find out! 

Last week, Feit Consulting launched a mini-survey to capture the reality behind the buzz—and the results are very telling already.  In a very short period of time, over 60 law firms (25% in the AmLaw 200) have participated in our survey.  This indicates to us that firms have a high degree of interest in understanding from their peers the value of these new tools.

An early result we can share is the percentage of firms that have Westlaw who have purchased Edge is roughly the same as the number of firms that have Lexis and have purchased Context: trending at 15%.

Context seems to be getting much more consideration, however, because of its much lower cost.  At this point 40% of firms with Lexis are actively considering Context

The proof in the pudding will be firms’ satisfaction with these products—we will continue to compile this data and will share the results with our survey participants.

If you and your firm want in on the complete data, participate!  All survey participants will receive a complimentary copy of the results —and participation takes less than 3 minutes.  The survey is open now and will close June 16th. 

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