LexisPSL – Automating and Standardizing Practice Support
Last week, courtesy of Nick West, Director, Legal Markets for LexisNexis UK, I viewed a demo of LexisPSL, an online knowledge management (KM) and practice support tool for UK lawyers and professional support lawyers (PSL). It illustrates how the right combination of content, technology, and process improvement can help firms practice more efficiently.
LexisNexis PSL appears to compete directly with the Practical Law Company (PLC). I mention this to frame how I think about the product, not to set up a comparison. When I wrote about PLC in The New Imperative for Professional Support Lawyers (June 2011), I described PLC as a “shared services model”.
I view LexisPSL similarly. It centralizes and de-duplicates a portion of the work that PSLs do across firms. This frees PSLs to focus on higher value work and, indeed, Nick reports that PSLs in the UK today do more billable client-facing work than in the past, for example, training clients and assisting them develop and maintain their own precedents.
Perhaps the greatest value though, is for practicing lawyers. Nick, and the LexisPSL site, describe the product as adding the “what, how, and why” to the underlying primary and secondary LexisNexis content. That seems an apt description. Lexis has hired many lawyers to provide rich and deep editorial content, which includes:
- Short and crisp practice notes
- Checklists, diagrams, and flowcharts.
- Precedents with associated drafting notes
- Forms, many of which are government PDFs that Lexis has enhanced to make easier to fill-in, submit, save, and re-use)
- Calculators specific to each area of law, for example, damages. There are 55 so far.
- Document assembly based on Business Integrity’s Contract Express
Lawyers can navigate the system via search or a reasonably-sized, two-level taxonomy. Throughout, LexisPSL includes key case law, legislation and secondary content (books, procedural rules) and also links to Lexis primary and secondary content such as Halsbury’s, Butterworth’s and Tolley – some of this content is only available by separate subscription via a set of links segregated from the main text.
Lexis started developing LexisPSL around 2008, initially focusing on High Street law (that is, “Main Street” or consumer law). Since then, the company has moved into the business-to-business market. LexisPSL covers 25 topics, 15 of which were released in the last year. The company continues to add content across the service and is particularly focused on adding further productivity tools, similar to the calculators and document assembly capabilities.
The interface appears carefully considered and well designed. It has a clean, “Web 2.0 look” with clearly labeled embedded links, liberal use of mouse-over for details, and navigation to other resources cleanly segregated and consistently placed. Even the website promoting the service, http://www.lexislegalintelligence.co.uk/intelligence/lexispsl, is snappier than the typical vendor website; I particularly like the short animated video explaining precedents. For those interested in learning more, Nick suggests a visit to http://www.trialpsl.com/, where you can sign up for a free trial.
I have long thought that lawyers need software like this, integrating content and tools directed at specific tasks and problems. The LexisPSL approach could serve as a basis for lawyers to standardize the tasks and workflow of many common matters. I am not close enough to practice to know if it actually does, but the overall framework strikes me a good architecture for doing so. Given lawyer resistance to standardization, however, I would not promote this idea were I LexisNexis. I can see though, how forward-thinking firms can use a tool like this in support of standardization.
I believe a product like this would also do well in the US market; the US equivalent, Lexis Practice Advisor, is already available now along with an Australian version.
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