Bloomberg Law - creating the "big three"?
Monday, 22nd February 2010
By Michele Bate
As reported in January, Bloomberg has launched what it regards as a serious competitor to the high-end legal research products offered by LexisNexis and Westlaw. (See http://www.vivavip.com/go/e27853) Legal journalist Robert Ambrogi described Bloomberg Law in Law Technology News as a “brazen move”. (http://digbig.com/5bbcts) The web-based service is a radical departure for Bloomberg. Up to now, with the exception of news, Bloomberg has delivered information, primarily to financial clients, via its proprietary terminals. This is its first attempt to divorce the content from the delivery mechanism. The new product combines primary legal content with news to help law firms monitor their clients' industries and businesses. On its website, Bloomberg describes Bloomberg Law as a legal, regulatory, and compliance research platform, offering a suite of news, data and analytics to the legal and compliance community. It states that its news, data, and analysis are delivered in user-friendly formats and feature full-text database search and alert functionality, analytical reports, litigation research tools, and competitive intelligence profiles. (http://about.bloomberg.com/product_law.html) Individual subscriptions to Bloomberg Law will cost USD450 per month, covering all usage. A “floating licence” option costs USD1,250 a month, covering five users. After trialling Bloomberg Law, Ambrogi praised its functionality. He pronounced it to be quick and easy to use and navigate, enabling both Boolean and plain-language queries. As with Lexis Nexis’s new product in partnership with Microsoft (http://web.vivavip.com/forum/LiveWire/read.php?i=27904&start=0) users will be able to share research and documents with colleagues. It includes the Bloomberg Law Citator - the equivalent of Shepard's from LexisNexis and KeyCite from Westlaw. Ambrogi’s verdict is that as it currently stands, Bloomberg Law is a work in progress; his overall impression was of “a luxury yacht only partially constructed”. Although Bloomberg has reportedly hired “an army” of lawyers to add commentary and provide indexing, many of the pages in The Bloomberg Law Digest are currently devoid of content, for example. Is Bloomberg Law going to create a new triumvirate in the legal research market? Bloomberg is positioning Bloomberg Law as the only legal research service that integrates legal content with proprietary news and business intelligence but news and company information have long been available via LexisNexis. Bloomberg Law also claims to be the only legal research service that has complete UK dockets, which would be a plus for firms conducting international research. If it delivers comparable content to LexisNexis and Westlaw, with functionality that is at least as attractive, its straightforward pricing structure will make it appealing, especially to larger law firms. But based on Ambrogi’s comments, to be a serious competitor, it needs to be finished first.
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