As a legal blogger, I fear living in an echo chamber. So it’s nice to find that some hot blawgosphere topics also engage the business world. I follow blogger commentary on Bloomberg Law as I suspect many do. So I offer here a different perspective on it, that of a financial analyst who tracks Thomson Reuters for a living. 

Paul Steep is an analyst at Scotia Capital. Reproduced here with permission is his June 29th analysis of Bloomberg law.

  • “Our expectation is that Bloomberg’s revised legal offering will achieve a relatively small share of the legal information market over the next several years. We believe that the firm is continuing to work on developing and building out the product, which remains at an early stage in comparison to the entrenched offerings from Thomson Reuters and Reed Elsevier.
  • Our expectation is that Bloomberg is focused on using a targeted strategy by leveraging its key assets in the initial iterations of the product to gain a foothold within the legal market. In evaluating the positioning of Bloomberg Law the firm appears focused on penetrating practice areas that best fit with the firm’s core assets (e.g., a sizable real-time news gathering force, and a large knowledge base of corporate information). As a result, we expect clients choosing to deploy Bloomberg Law will be in specific practice areas, most notably Intellectual Property, Insolvency, and Securities along with use for business development purposes within law firms.
  • The firm has invested in developing a new web-based solution that offers clients the opportunity to access its legal research tools without incurring the expense of installing dedicated terminals. Bloomberg had previously tried to enter the Legal market with a product aimed at law firms, which was initially launched in 2004. The company faced issues in gaining adoption in the market primarily because it was only available through Bloomberg’s own terminals. A key difference in the current product iteration is the ability to have webbased access to the system, removing the requirement for a specialized terminal.
  • In this iteration Bloomberg’s legal product appears to have improved its overall competitiveness with WestLaw and Lexis/Nexis. Bloomberg has made a significant investment in building links to relevant content (e.g., U.S. Federal and State legal information), aggregating legal opinions from a number of law firms, developing their own proprietary content in the form of legal digests in various topic areas. The firm has invested significant software development work in building a product that provides the key functions of a legal terminal (e.g., search, docketing, case citation, news). The company appears to be focused on building out the core data set across the product in order to meet law firms’ requirements.
  • Our view is that Bloomberg represents a formidable competitor for the incumbent providers but WestLaw appears to remain in a dominant position given the strength of its data set and new product offering. We anticipate that Bloomberg is likely to gain traction in selected practice areas that build off the firm’s strengths in serving the financial community. Our plan is to closely monitor the adoption that Bloomberg Law is achieving over the next year as it continues to market its solution to law firms.”

Paul’s analysis is consistent with the anecdotal data I hear from my law librarian friends. Do not read too much into the fact that Reed Elsevier’s LexisNexis is mentioned only in passing. This is a financial analyst’s report focusing on the potential impact of a new entrant on a company he tracks; it is not intended to be a comprehensive analysis of the competition.

Comments on Bloomberg Law welcome.