Jul 19

Solve the Communication Gap, Show ROI, Evolve Your Firm’s Library

By Michael Feit | Feit Consulting

Law firms are now metrics-driven organizations.  A modern library, therefore, must yield a demonstrable return on investment.  To do so, information professionals need to expand their services and role within the firm to meet and lead new and rapidly changing needs, deliver enhanced value to changing stakeholders within the firm, and now also capture the relevant data that will demonstrate all that value back to firm leadership.   

This evolution requires individuals working in and with the library to have an open mind of how the skills of the law librarian team can be optimized, allowing for information professionals to find innovative ways to add value, including: collaborating with new departments within the firm, utilize metrics to showcase value and articulate ROI, and leveraging technology to improve the delivery of information. 

Feit Consulting surveyed librarians, administrators and legal information specialists to assess the current status of law libraries and better understand, confirm or dispel the issues surrounding the move towards modernization.  We found, however, a common theme amongst administrators interviewed in our research as, “I don’t know what I don’t know. I rely on my librarian to tell me.”

This sentiment is reflected in our survey in which a significant 50% of respondents indicated that the person they report to either “slightly understands” or “does not understand” the role of the library, revealing a serious disconnect.  

This communication gap is not going to serve as the foundation for the evolution library professionals need to facilitate and it needs to change.  Even more challenging, only 37% of respondents indicated the library’s strategies are derived from the firm’s larger strategic plan as illustrated below.

To address these issues, Feit Consulting has developed detailed roadmap to help information professionals solve these communication gaps and evolve the modern library, Beyond VirtualizationTransforming the Law LibraryYou can see a preview of Beyond Virtualization:  Transforming the Law Library here.  The comprehensive white paper is also available for purchase or let’s discuss your firm’s specific needs.  Contact us at info@feitconsulting.com.

Jul 18

Optimal Contracts are Core to Delivering Value

By Michael Feit | Pricing

Do you truly know whether your contract has the best terms and pricing compared to the market?  How prepared is your firm for your next contract negotiation?

The number 1 priority of legal procurement is to better analyze and reduce legal spend according to the 2018 Buying Legal Council Survey.  What this means for law firms is increasing price competition and a resultant downward pressure on price.  Internally, this means every department within a law firm is under intense scrutiny to demonstrate value in terms of any business metric that measures how well the firm delivers client service at the most cost-effective price.

For legal information professionals, core to demonstrating departmental value is optimizing provider services and contracts.  One of the biggest mistakes we see are contract renewals without application of the right leverage and industry knowledge.  The value of firms’ online research platforms does not automatically increase 3-5% annually just “because”.  To pay increases annually, it would be expected that the firm is receiving more value, content or features than the year before. Complacency or lack of diligence in managing information resources can have long-lasting unfavorable implications on both processes and costs, thereby hampering overall efficiency.

Simply consider the recent and rapid changes in the market for online research providers.  It is unlikely that firms’ contract pricing and content are aligned with current products, strategy, and shifts in the market.  Resources purchased in the past may no longer provide the necessary tools to remain competitive and cutting edge today. Legal information needs are continually in flux and should be reviewed periodically.

An optimized budget delivers the financial resources necessary to take advantage of new and exciting offerings currently emerging in the market, such as new AI and analytics tools.  Having access to these products could be significant in creating new efficiencies and enhancing productivity at your firm. Asserting yourself in confidence, understanding your choices and making them clear at the negotiation table will ensure you reach the best outcome for your firm.

However, pricing knowledge alone is not enough to optimize pricing. Strategy and negotiation tactics are critical for success. Law firm administrators must understand their leverage and be able to utilize it a meaningful and timely manner. Gaining a clearer picture of your purchasing power is essential to achieving an optimized outcome.

Feit Consulting has developed detailed strategies and the industry’s most comprehensive benchmarking, that helps information professionals achieve the leverage required for successful vendor negotiations. You can see a preview of our comprehensive Optimizing Legal Information Pricing white paper here.  Want to discuss your firm’s specific needs or have your contracts benchmarked? Contact us at info@feitconsulting.com.


Jul 16

Sole Provider Adoption Trends: Key Data

By Michael Feit | Feit Consulting

Imagine if Lexis and Westlaw were new products today, offering your firm the same subscription price you already have. Would you really purchase both? Most of those informed on the topic would argue that these products are far too close in total content to need both. This duopoly paradigm has been in place since the early 90s and has been the norm since until recently.

Historically, firms could retain both Lexis and Westlaw because the majority of costs would be passed through to clients. The recession forever changed the dynamics of the online legal information market for both vendors and firms. Firms started to see their sophisticated corporate clients closely scrutinizing costs and refusing to pay for online legal research. Now that recovery rates have greatly diminished, firms are being forced to evaluate their need to retain both vendors.

Feit Consulting collected data on 389 law firms with over 100 attorneys in the US within the last year those firms provided relevant, decision-making insight on adoption trends, including this key data point: for the first time since the 90’s, the sole provider option has become the norm at most firms. See the charts below:

The historic growth of the sole provider trend amongst firms in the Am Law 200/100 has been growing rapidly from the early 2000s to today.  As a greater number firms continue to move in this direction, the validity and viability of this option has been reinforced.

For U.S. Law Firm email addresses only:

Curious for more?  Email Feit Consulting here to see how the sole provider trend breaks down by Westlaw and Lexis.


Jul 13

At AALL: Westlaw Edge Introduction

By Michael Feit | Feit Consulting

Thomson highlighted five major components that set Westlaw Edge apart from its predecessor, Westlaw Next:

• Enhanced search capabilities, with a new algorithm (WestSearch Plus) that looks beyond terms and at metadata and case citing relationships for more responsive search and a predictive question asking system.

• Warnings for invalid or questionable law, which flags both bad, outdated law and risks for overruling, even on cases that are not directly cited by a new case that changes the law.

• A tool for statutory change analysis, allowing comparison between versions of statutes and highlighting added and deleted language, similar to Microsoft Word’s tracked changes.

• Integrated litigation analytics, which employs machine learning and the company’s stable of legal editors to break down state and federal dockets for analysis by attributes like judges, motions, attorneys and more.

• “User Experience improvements,” such as synopsis-like case backgrounds, holdings, and more.

The new features are interesting/exciting but it’s not likely to come with a substantial upcharge. As you may recall in the introduction of Westlaw Next in 2010, the new platform was offered initially as a monthly upcharge. Eventually, (5 years plus) all hold-outs were moved to the new platform with no cost as Westlaw.com was sunsetted.

In its release of Westlaw, Thomson Reuters analysis showed that complex legal research tasks take an average of six hours, with some taking much longer. AI-driven platforms should reduce the time for searches and should improve the quality of the results. Firms want to be in an a flexible/nimble position to adapt to the rapid pace of change.

Jul 13

At AALL: Here Are Your 5 To Do’s

By Michael Feit | Feit Consulting

LexisNexis and Westlaw will, of course, dominate discussions at AALL this year as they have in years past.  With the recent pricing tactics taken on by Lexis (see Michael Feit’s take on this in Legaltech News here), and the big announcement from Thomson Reuters’ introduction of Westlaw Edge, there’s a lot to talk about.  Here are our 5 things to do to make the most out of your time in Baltimore:

Do:  Learn as much as possible about the AI releases and features.

There’s so much buzz around AI, it is difficult at times to separate the hype from the application.  AI is coming to library services and so we should all be learning as much as possible about its true potential. It is not surprising to see Westlaw finally get into the AI arena with the release of Westlaw Edge.  AI features will continue to erode consumption, and so the onus is on the provider to build those features into the platform to make them more valuable.

Do:  Learn as much as possible about the features of Westlaw Edge.

Do:  Learn more about the changes to BBNA platform and management.

Do:  Find out what your peers are thinking about the Lexis bundling tactics and the AALL’s inability to move them away from their position, despite the outcry.

Do:  Vendors such as Westlaw and Lexis are re-selling surveillance data to ICE and other government agencies.  Ask your vendor do you use our Firm’s legal search user data in their surveillance search platforms?

BONUS: Do NOT miss:  John Waters’ keynote address, we’re sure it will be fantastic and fun.

Jul 13

Wexis contracts? Now is not the time to commit to long-term

By Michael Feit | Feit Consulting

Whether you are attending AALL this year or reading the news from afar, we can guarantee you that the one thing to do right now is a ‘do not’: Do not enter into any long-term contracts.

Why lock your firm into a long-term price commitment in this rapidly evolving market?

Negotiating with the vendors can be a frustrating, drawn-out and often unsatisfying process. For many of our clients, negotiating ranks with tax-time on everyone’s list of fun things to do making the idea of fewer renewals sound enticing.

However, with rare exceptions, a long-term contract is among the worst paths a firm can choose for several reasons. One important reason seems obvious: change. Technology and pricing are continuously changing. You wouldn’t buy a plan that kept you from upgrading your phone for 5 years, would you? The legal information landscape is rapidly evolving with exciting acquisitions and new companies/products emerging. These products will continue to pull away use and interest in Lexis and Westlaw. It is always possible that one change in the market could make another product irrelevant. And as Artificial Intelligence rapidly gains momentum, there is much to be seen. What will the legal information landscape look like in 5 years?

Generally, a longer contract benefits the vendor. For legal information contracts, we always advise keeping the term to within your near- and long-term forecasts, generally 3 years or fewer unless you are receiving a truly exceptional deal.

How exceptional is the new proposal? What are the year over year increases? What additional benefits are you receiving for a longer-term contract? Perhaps your firm/organization deleted the vendor in the past and is seeking to reinstate, leading to pricing and terms that are best in market. Make sure they are, and not just because the vendor has told you so. Another option to consider is bundling. Bundling products together can be an advantageous for some. However, for many, a new contract bundle may be hiding unnecessary products or content that the firm or organization doesn’t need. Take a good look at the bundle being offered. It could be a great deal, or it might not, but in either case, it is worth investigating.

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