New Bloomberg Law- Jones Day Deal- What Are the Implications?
Bloomberg Law announced today that it has signed an agreement with global law firm, Jones Day, to bring Bloomberg Law to the desktop of all 1,800 attorneys in Jones Day’s US offices. This deal follows on the heels of Bloomberg Law’s agreement with DLA Piper, and raises further implications for both Bloomberg, large law firms, and the publishing industry – particularly LexisNexis and Westlaw.
The immediate and obvious reaction to the news is that Bloomberg Law has responded to skeptics who viewed the DLA agreement as merely a fluke – a rare golden opportunity for two large players to strike a win-win deal. The Jones Day agreement silences some of these critics by clearly signaling that Bloomberg Law has the credibility, the intention and the ability to duplicate these huge deals with global law firms. Bloomberg law has demonstrated in a very short time, that they are serious players in a very competitive market dominated by Lexis and Westlaw, and that they intend to be around for a long time.
The Bloomberg Law- Jones Day agreement like the DLA-Bloomberg one was a relatively safe win-win for both parties, based upon the same assumptions. I am presuming that Jones Day has avoided any exclusive usage agreements with Bloomberg Law ,while still retaining its preferred database provider (either Lexis or Westlaw), enabling it to continue to have at least 2 database providers to meet its research needs. l doubt if they lost much (if anything), in terms of its resources in the change, and like DLA, they have at least three option to make up for any loss: 1) supplement its preferred vendor content with Bloomberg Law, 2) add additional or missing content from its preferred vendor (hopefully at very favorable rates), or 3) it can stay pat. As with the DLA agreement, there was no mention in this press release about either the length of the agreement or about the impact on Jones Day’s offices outside the US.
The implications for both large law firms and the legal publishing industry are what intrigue me the most about this event. Steve Lastres and I have suggested in previous blogs that it is unlikely that a large law firm will bear the expense of having 3 large and costly legal research databases. Therefore, Bloomberg’s gain suggests that another database provider has lost Jones Day’s business. Was it LexisNexis, the presumed loser in the DLA deal? If so, a second high profile loss for Lexis would send a troubling message to their corporate headquarters. If Westlaw was the loser this time, it would indicate that no online vendor is exempt from displacement in this economy, and it would further disarm the old assumption that mega firms need both Lexis and Westlaw to meet their research needs. Once this old adage is discredited, momentum for new database choices will shift to firms of all sizes.
As in the case of DLA, I believe that Jones Day got a very favorable pricing deal in exchange for enhancing Bloomberg Law’s credibility with mega firms – despite Bloomberg Law’s reputation for being rigid on pricing and refusing to negotiate. For me, the reason for even getting Jones Day’s ear has to be attractive and transparent pricing. Why else would they even take the time to listen to Bloomberg’s sales pitch? As Don Jaycox, DLA Piper’s Chief Information Officer, said about his firm’s deal with Bloomberg Law, “Law firms need to cost effectively deliver great client service in a highly competitive environment…. Plus, Bloomberg’s inclusive pricing model helps us manage costs in a predictable way”. , Jones Day can piggy back on Jaycox’s statement to make a convincing case to its clients re: its innovation and cost-effectiveness. While predictable and inclusive pricing is certainly important to law firms – perhaps now more than ever, there are other factors that are important also. These other factors include database content, ease of use and intuitiveness, innovation, and the ability to easily toggle back and forth between legal, news and business resources.
In addition to its inclusive pricing for legal news and business information, Bloomberg Law has a powerful and innovative new platform with unique resident information and pull-down menus that turn traditional search and focus research on its ear. For some at least, this approach is more intuitive than either Lexis or Westlaw. In addition, it has added content from respected partners like BNA and the Georgetown Legal Center.
Perhaps it’s time to see more innovation from LexisNexis and Westlaw – before Bloomberg Law leaves them in their tracks. This news will surely catch the attention of both major law firms and Bloomberg’s competitors- Lexis and Westlaw. Business as usual has come under fire once again. What do you think?