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Get Ready for the “Next Evolution” in Very Expensive Legal Research Services

Greg Lambert offers his 10 projections for 2010 on 3 Geeks and a Law Blog including rumored ones that have become a swirling maelstrom lately, namely, Westlaw and Lexis launching revamped legal research interfaces.

Yup, Thomson Reuters CEO Tom Gover hints and the project code-named Cobalt. Greg points to the new See Westlaw site for more. Cobalt makes me think Greg’s forecast that the “Westlaw” brand will become more “Reuterish” also is dead-on; more as in not just West, more as in Thomson Reuters-sourced services. Tighter integration of user bases and brand identity makes sense. Better visit the See Westlaw site and hit the Get the Launch Date Alert button to “know exactly when the next evolution in legal research goes live.” Might be the first way you learn about it.

Lexis too but little as in I’ve seen no publicly available official Company information so far. Greg writes the big two legal research vendors are poised to completely restructure their legal research interfaces to allow researchers to be more specific in how they conduct research, as well as integrating Web 2.0 strategies into search results. Instead of being a one-way research tool, you will be able to add information to the data held by West and Lexis, and share that within your firm.

More outsourcing of Wexis legal editorial services too. From the post’s comment trail:

Jason: I think you can add Glocer will continue to find ways to outsource editorial services. We saw it with Lexis in ’07 when they moved the taxonomy group, and with West’s fairly sophisticated system for KeyNumbering

Greg: I’ve been hearing rumors that Thomson Reuters (TR) has been looking to outsource more and more of the annotation and key numbering to India. I know they are doing that with the Federal Unpublished decisions, but I’m not sure if they have started outsourcing that process for the published opinions yet. Apparently, TR doesn’t have the reservations that the core folks at Westlaw have about outsourcing the “value added” portion of why you use a product like Westlaw (AKA head notes, key numbers, etc.) If (or when) it happens, and it gets out that the ‘value-add’ is being developed by non-licensed, non-US attorneys, I’m not sure how the legal community will react. I’d think it would be very negative, but I have been wrong before!!

A couple more of Greg’s projections … “Lexis reorganizes… again.” A reorganization appears to be “always around the corner.” Hello, Dayton, I want to keep my current reps! If speculation about Thomson Reuters’ Project Cobalt for “Westlaw 2.0” [insert new name here] is accurate, will we all be visited by new TR reps?

Bloomberg Law will be a flop because buy-in from law firms hasn’t been forthcoming. Hey, wait, I haven’t even had a chance to test drive it yet. I do remember Mary Ann Neary and George D. Wilson’s March 2009 AALL Spectrum article, Hello BLAW: Bloomberg Law, the newcomer in legal research, meets academic users, and Michael Robak’s The Bloomberg Citator: A first look at BLAW’s citations function (AALL Spectrum, July 2009) which was stymied by Bloomberg’s reluctance to discuss the product with him. Guess if Bloomberg wouldn’t talk to Robak, a little county law library in the extreme southwestern corner of Ohio ought not to expect to hear from Bloomberg until the service is a law firm flop!

And Google will release a new application every business day, which as Greg notes really “isn’t a big stretch” of the imagination. Seems like the Company is already doing so.

For more, including Greg’s excellent commentary on each forecast, see 10 Projections for 2010 – The Year We All Hit the F5 Button.

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