Mar 29

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.

Mar 20

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

By Becky Bowman and Stuart Zimmerman | Feit Consulting

In this blog post, 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

About the Author

Becky Bowman, Law Library Consultant 

Becky served as the Chief Research and Information Analysis Officer for Am Law 100 firm, Baker Donelson for 32 years where she ultimately led a team of 5 to serve 750+ attorneys across 23 domestic locations. Becky's accomplishments at Baker were multiple, including transforming the library from print to digital, overseeing the efficient combination of 15 mergers and acquisitions of library materials, and successfully rebranding her department, and achieving buy-in from key stakeholders. Her exceptional experience is invaluable for clients as they assess the actual total cost and value of their library and research department including current print and digital collections, vendor contracts, as well as consider cultural and workflow disruptions or benefits in moving to an outsourcing vendor.

About the Author

Stuart Zimmerman, Law Library Consultant

Stuart provides strategic input on library and research services in large law firms with a focus on library audits, the development of best practices for the delivery of library services, and the implementation of new generations of digital resources for research and library administration. Stuart brings more than 25 years of law library experience both in law firms and public law libraries. Prior to joining Feit Consulting, Stuart was Director of Research and Information Services for Davis Wright Tremaine LLP where he transformed a patchwork of individual law office libraries into a coordinated, efficient, contemporary, firm-wide library system providing high-quality research and library services across nine offices.

Feb 20

If your firm is going sole provider, do you have a change management roadmap to guide the process?

By Michael Feit | Sole Provider

With the majority of firms already making the choice to retain just one vendor, the market has proven that firms don’t need both Lexis and Westlaw to operate successfully. Until a decade ago, more than 85% of law firms had both Lexis and Westlaw. The vendors offered products with a lot of unique content, making it justifiable to have both. Additionally, approximately 90% of costs associated with online research were passed through to clients.

Since the 2008 recession, recovery rates have dropped to 36%, overall usage is down and continuing to decline, and Lexis and Westlaw products have become quite similar. While there is still some unique content, it is not enough to justify firms retaining both. And, fortunately, there are many workarounds to alleviate concerns about lost content.

The idea of transitioning to sole-provider can be daunting, 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.

Feit Consulting offers a variety of resources to help firms and organizations transition to sole provider. Firms and organizations can engage with Feit Consulting to provide project management direction, tools and resources to implement the change from two provider to one provider, or for some firms and organizations – flipping from one vendor to the other vendor. Feit Consulting will evaluate your specific needs to determine our role and pricing that is customized to your firm’s needs.

Flipping vendors or eliminating a vendor can provide substantial savings, however this process requires an intense amount of time and planning. Let Feit Consulting guide your firm or organization through the process. Contact Feit Consulting today to set up an initial consultation with our team of experts.

Feb 13

The Right Products. The Right Price.

By Michael Feit | Feit Consulting

Gone are the days of published, pay-as-you-go retail pricing from which firms can pick and choose “buffet-style” the legal information products that best fit their practice needs and budget. 

Today, most pricing practices are purposely obscured so vendors can leverage terms that vary greatly from firm to firm.  While these tactics are symptomatic of mature products in a saturated market – they leave firms at a disadvantage during negotiations.

Data-driven negotiations help firms achieve their goal of purchasing the tools their attorneys truly require at the best market price. There are many factors that contribute to platform purchasing, including evaluating the value and effectiveness of current resources; where to find new efficiencies; negotiating contracts based on past vendor promises, and the role of legacy usage and recovery rates. 

Feit Consulting helps firms look at the full picture, not just the financial costs associated with your firm’s decision—and our industry-wide benchmarks give your firm the advantage it needs.

Set up a time to talk with us here

Jan 30

Does your firm or organization need a Modern Library Audit?

By Michael Feit | Feit Consulting , Modern Law Library , Resources

If you are a Librarian or Administrator who has the mindset of continuous process improvement with the goal of optimizing resources (time and money), the Modern Library Audit provides concrete steps specific to your firm’s needs to achieve this.

In a Modern Library Audit, Feit Consulting’s team of experts conducts a thorough assessment of all legal information functions in the library and the support provided for various departments and practice groups. We evaluate the utilization of personnel, internal processes, technology, legal information resources and the overall support for the business of law.

From the assessment, we develop and present a plan to further modernize your Law Library. What this equates to is a solid plan with clear action steps and ROI for improving how your Law Library operates.

The Modern Law Library is not a destination but an approach to managing legal information resources. Even when a firm reaches the realm of modernizing their law library, changes will occur – internal and external to the firm – that affect the role of the Library and what it provides.

The result of a Modern Law Library Audit is a clear plan with recommendations specific to your firm/organization with the goal of saving money, improving efficiencies, and maximizing the utilization of resources.

If you are ready to take your Law Library to the next level, Feit Consulting’s Modern Library Audit provides a clear path forward. Contact a Feit Advisor today to set up an initial consultation and schedule your Audit.

Oct 30

Feit Consulting Announces their Managed Services Evaluator: First-of-Kind Service

By Michael Feit | Feit Consulting

We are pleased to announce our Managed Services Evaluator (MSE), the industry’s only unbiased approach to the outsourcing of legal information management.  This new advising service offered by Feit bridges an industry gap.  

As more firms are evaluating outsourcing service models, there is a marked lack of data to help firms understand the current value of their in-house operations.  Before considering outside services, it is critical the firm understands the value it is currently deriving from its legal information resources.   

If it is determined that outsourcing is a potential option, MSE helps Feit clients differentiate between outsourcing providers, ultimately comparing the value and impact of in-house versus outsourced solutions.   The Managed Services Evaluator provides firms with the critical knowledge required to make the best choice for this important business decision.

As law firm information services have evolved and grown to deliver cross-departmental and cross-practice value, the industry has experienced a simultaneous boom in outsourcing providers offering varying degrees of support, with hybrid and fully outsourced models for firms to consider.  It is becoming a part of firms' due diligence to investigate managed service options as part of any assessment of firms’ information services value.  But the question is, who is the right party to provide such an assessment?

President of Feit Consulting, Michael Feit, comments, “Managed services discussions can be a pain point for law firms, both on the librarian side and firm leadership side.  Feit’s Managed Services Evaluator is designed to help guide both librarians and management towards the best decision, starting with the right data.  For librarians, our assessment can illustrate the market value of their current legal information delivery system.  For firm leadership, an unbiased assessment of service providers has heretofore not even been available – as the other advisors in this space are also providing the outsourcing services under consideration.   In the end, what is most valuable is putting the two together to create the right conversation - with the right information.”

To guide an unbiased evaluation, Feit presents data in neutral fashion, across comprehensive review of your existing library and external/outsourcing options if indicated. 

Feit’s decades of expertise and experience in legal information consulting helps firms successfully understand their market position, including answers to these questions:

  • What is the genuine value of your in-house library?
  • What is the real cost of your in-house library?
  • Is outsourcing an apples-to-apples replacement?  Something less?  Something more?
  • Will my firm reduce costs, increase costs, or simply move them to a different cost center?

To learn more about Feit’s Managed Services Evaluator, go here.

About Feit Consulting

Feit Consulting has been a pioneer in the field of information services management consulting for almost two decades.  The experts of Feit Consulting are trusted legal information advisors and partners in the assessment, negotiation and implementation of customized solutions that optimize information services while achieving substantial savings for the top 400 firms, and now for small firms. As leaders with unparalleled experience, Feit Consultants have been challenging existing paradigms for the benefit of their clients since 2001.

Patricia Ann Nagy, Director
Proxy Public Relations LLC
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