Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Bloomberg Law Re-Brands: Learn this Acronym BBNA It Stands for Bloomberg BNA. Let the Mash-Ups Begin!

 This morning Greg McCaffery CEO of Bloomberg Law sent a letter to clients announcing some changes at Bloomberg Law and BloombergBNA. The most immediate impact will be the unification of all legal products under a single subsidiary named BloombergBNA starting in January 2014.

New Leadership Structure Effective January 1, McCaffery will become the CEO of Bloomberg BNA.The leadership team will include Sue Martin, formerly CFO of the Bloomberg Industry Verticals; Darren McKewen, President of BNA; and Dmitri Mehlhorn.

Listening at AALL. McCaffery's letter acknowledged the impact of client discussions at the recent AALL conference. "We discussed these topics repeatedly two weeks ago at the American Association of Law Libraries annual conference, when a team of us from Bloomberg Law/Bloomberg BNA spent four days with leaders in the field of legal information."

The "Why" of this Move "Clients want even better solutions—solutions that integrate Bloomberg business insights, BNA content, and next-generation legal research technology to help our clients thrive in the changing landscape. "

Yes You Can Still Subscribe Directly to BNA Products The top question on the minds of information professionals will be whether this move suggests that the company is turning to a more aggressive marketing approach and requiring customers to purchase BLaw before they can get BNA subscriptions. There is no indication in the letter of any change is this regard.

Innovation Focused on Law Firm Profitability. Music to everyone's ears. "We are committed to making individual users more effective, and our clients' enterprises more profitable." The letter describes the integration of BBNA Tax Management Portfolios with the Bloomberg Law DealMaker product to give tax professionals even more powerful tools for serving their clients. I believe this is absolutely the future. We will see new "mash ups" of previously independent products which connects previously independent content sets while adding new functionality and the opportunity for greater productivity.

Content Powered By Context and Connections. This is the main legal publishing industry trend which has already been in motion. Recent moves by Thomson Reuters, Lexis, Nexis and Wolters Kluwer echo the same message. We are no longer buying content, we are buying content wired to unconventional data streams which will surface new connections and be powered to change the way we work.

Good News for BLaw Subscribers This morning Greg McCaffery put a stake in the ground and declared that Bloomberg BNA will beat the competition in speeding innovation to the marketplace. The good news for Bloomberg BNA subscribers is that whatever BBNA develops, they are assured that they will get it all. One of Bloomberg Law's distinguishing approaches to the legal market is to provide a predictable pricing model which assures that all innovations and new products are immediately available to all subscribers.

Mergermarket For Sale: Let the Matchmaking Begin. Are Bloomberg, Thomson Reuters, LexisNexis and Wolters Kluwer Likely Buyers?

Pearson the British publisher of the Financial Times, announced that they will be selling their Mergermarket unit which publishes the Mergermarket deal monitoring and deal data product and Debtwire which covers the global distressed debt market.According to a story in the New York Times, Pearson bought Mergermarket for $192 Million in 2006. The Times story also reported that Mergermarket's sales were $334 million in the first half of 2013.

Mergermarket has gained traction in US law firms due to its "boots on the ground" approach to monitoring deal activities and rumors in 67 locations around the world. Reporters  provide a steady stream of custom deal news as well as an excellent deal database which is used for Competitive Intelligence analysis and by lawyers for determining "What's Market."  Since M&A activity has been uneven over the past few years, it is impressive that Mergermarkets revenue has grown in this tough environment.

Over the past year there have been rumors that Pearson was in talks with Bloomberg regarding the sale of the Financial Times. Pearson’s announcement indicated that it did not intend to sell the Financial Times because it was viewed as important to their educational market strategy and apparently Mergermarket is not. But there is probably a legal publisher with a strategy which would benefit from a product like Mergermarket.

Where is the Most Strategic Synergy in Legal Publishing for Mergermarket?

Bloomberg Law doesn’t need it. They have much of  the same data although they present it differently. I would only see  Bloomberg buying Mergermarket so someone else can't benefit from owning it.
 
Thomson Reuters  Like Bloomberg. TR doesn't really doesn’t need  Mergermarket since they have the Thomson Reuters financial platform which is chocked full of deal data. TR is already working  on integrating  Thomson Reuters financial data  into their legal products. Mergermarket also has some overlap with the "what's market" market capabilities of  the newly acquired Practical Law Company platform which was purchased earlier this year.

LexisNexis has been in the habit of purchasing (Law 360 and Knowledge Mosaic) or aligning (American Lawyer Media) with specialty publishers which cater to the legal market. Knowledge Mosaic has a different emphasis than Mergermarket but covers some of the same deal data, so the acquisition of Mergermarket does not seem like a likely move for LexisNexis to me.

Wolters Kluwer Law and Business – Now this one is intriguing. Wolters Kluwer has recenly expanded and accelerated  their suite of "push" offerings with their of daily legal newsletters. These newsletters focus on legal issues. Lawyers welcome products that can weave legal and business issues together in a way that enhances their competitiveness and efficiency. Wolters Kluwer already has a strong core of corporate, antitrust  and securities legal content on their Intelliconnect and RBSource platforms. It's not hard to imagine some sparks flying if they married the stream of Mergermarket rumors and deals data to their core corporate legal content.
 
The Risk of Acquisition
 
Law librarians and legal information professionals know all too well that all product acquisitions do not end happily for customers or products. The litany of lost products is too long to recite, but as alawys we will watch carefully to see if Mergermarket can survive and thrive its own merger.
 
Also of Note -- A Recent Bloomberg - Above the Law Connection
 
Bloomberg Media recently recruited Justin B Smith who engineered a digital transformation of The Atlantic magazine. At the end of the story in the New York Times, it noted that Smith founded Breaking Media which owns a number of websites, most notably the Above the Law blog. I contacted David Lat the Managing Editor of ATL and he indicated that Smith's move to Bloomberg  will have no impact on ATL. Fair enough, Smith  has moved to Bloomberg Media and not to  Bloomberg Law, but something could happen over a water cooler! Bloomberg Law is always on the prowl for good content and new media is hot.  BLaw did establish an alliance with  another leading legal blog ScotusBlog which covers the US Supreme Court. Just gotta keep wondering what's up next!
 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Bruce MacEwen's Summit Keynote: The Haiku of Adam Smith, Esq,


Bruce MacEwen has been writing AdamSmith Esq for over a decade, but last year his series “Growth is Dead” both stunned and perplexed law firm leaders  throughout the US.
Bruce MacEwen
Bruce provided the keynote for this year's PLL Summit in Seattle, Washington. It is impossible to summarize his dense and thorough economic analysis of the legal sector.

At best I can offer what I would call " the Haiku of Adam Smith Esq."

  • Financial recessions are different.
  • Law firm leaders only began to identify efficiency as a desirable goal four years ago.
  • When comparing law firms look at revenue per lawyer… it is more reliable because it is  harder "to game."
  • Revenue per lawyer in Q1 of 2013 was down 23% for corporate work and 26% for litigation.
  • Excess capacity triggers the irrational impulse to offer irrational discounts.
  • Most law firm partners don’t know the difference between revenue and profits.
  • Lawyers still divide the world into lawyers and non-lawyers.
  • Law firms may need to move to a new leverage model of 1 partner to 1 associate.
  • Law firms should cultivate an active alumni network including lawyers who want to work part time or on a temporary basis  who can be tapped when the firm needs to staff up.
  • Proactive firms are more profitable than reactive firms.
  • Substitutes are more dangerous than competitors. LPOs are substitutes. For every one dollar an LPO gains, law firms lose 3 dollars.
  • Running a law firm is 5 times more complicated than running any other kind of business.
  • Lawyers need to practice law and let the professionals, manage the firm. He means those darned non-lawyers need to manage.
  • Law firms need credentialed, senior level executives to run the business of the firm.  
  • Law firms and lawyers must determine their distinguishing strategic proposition.
  • Most partners can not and most firm websites do not describe their firms " Unique Strategic Proposition."
  • A Distinguishing Strategic Proposition is distinctive, compelling and credible.
  • Law firms must build visibility in a digital world.
  • There is no entitlement to incumbency. Quoting from the CEO of now defunct, A&P Stores before they slid into oblivion,” You can’t argue with 100 years of success,”
  • Complacency is the biggest threat to law firms.
  • Lawyers are psychologically ill suited to reinvent their law firms. (Too skeptical, too independent and too risk averse,)
  • Lawyers hate failure. But they need to learn to take chances in order to improve their firms and become more competitive. This may involve some failures.
  • Law firms need to invest in R&D in order to reinvent their own future.
This list is not be enough, read the book, Growth is Dead and subscribe to the AdamSmithEsq website to receive Bruce's ongoing commentary on the state of the legal marketplace. Well done Bruce!
.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Summit IV: Successful in Seattle!

Every PLL Summit has been a success but the  4th Annual PLL Summit, SOS: Shaping Our Success, which was held on July 13th in Seattle,  set a new standard of excellence by all accounts. Due to a combination of jetlag and computer problems, I was unable to write my normal nocturnal dispaces.  As my daughter likes to say, "God made midnight, so Mom could write."

So I will begin, a week late, to report on the panels, the personalities and the punditry. BloombergBNA hosted the opening reception Friday evening and provided an opportunity for attendees to meet the "celebrity" guest speakers, the sponsors and network with each other.
Jean O'Grady and Bruce MacEwen
(c. Bess Reynolds)

Growth is Dead Now What?

The Summit,, kicked off with an extraordinary presentation by the lawyer, economist, consultant,  Bruce MacEwen, aka Adam Smith Esq.  He is a wizard with charts and data and kept everyone riveted with diagnostics, precautions and predictions for the future of law firms.

 Lean Up! Finding and Seizing Opportunities for Growth"

Bruce MacEwen opened his presentation by stating that the recession had given law firms permission to talk about things that could never be discussed before. We continued discussing "the unspeakable" in the Lean Up Panel. I set the stage with data and trend analysis. Lawyer and consultant Victoria Pynchon,  was both provocative and entertaining in asking us to "reframe" our careers. Bob Oaks and Bill Scarbrough provided insights into the opportunities they created or seized on their way to the C-Suite. Joan Axelroth moderated and provided questions to the panel.

Lunch With "Above the Law"  or How did  a Nice Harvard/Yale Grad Like You End Up Starting "Above the Law?"


Victoria Pynchon and David Lat
(c. Bess Reynolds)
Picture this: David Lat, Assistant Attorney General in Newark meeting with his former boss New Jersey Governor Chris Christie when Christie was Attorney General, in the days after Lat "outed himself" as the author of  a controversial blog. Convinced that his identity was about to be "uncovered," Lat agreed to be interviewed by Jeffery Toobin for an article in the New Yorker.  Before there was "Above the Law" there was  "Underneath Their Robes"  judicial snark-fest written by  David's female doppelganger "Article 3 Groupie."  David  provided a wonderful history of how he developed "Above the Law"  and how it evolved from being every CMO's nightmare into being an almost mainstream communication channel which now receives advance copies of things like bonus memos from Big Law PR departments.

Afternoon Tracks. Branding, Social Media

The worst thing about tracks is having to choose between "hot topics." No matter which one's you pick you are always sure you missed something important and this time it would have been true.
sessions
Kathy Skinner and several of her colleagues from Morrison and Foerster provided recaps of the afternoon sessions.

Thanks to the generous sponsorship of Thomson Reuters, LexisNexis, WoltersKluwer, BloombergLaw/Bloomberg BNA and Fastcase.

Summit V Lives

The Summit will continue in 2014. Joan Axelroth and I will step down as co-chairs. Marcia Burris and Cheryl Nemeier will co-chair Summit V.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Congrats to the 2013 Fastcase 50 Winners!

One of the great things about this year's  Fastcase 50 is that it includes so many of my personal colleagues and mentors (whether they knew it or not!).



Luminaries Include: Bob Berring, Cindy Chick,Bess Reynolds, Anne Ellis, Steve Lastres, and Tracy Thompson-Przylucki  from the library community.  Leaders from other fields include: Ron Friedmann, Bruce MacEwen, Kingsly Martin and the late Dwight Opperman.

Congratulations to everyone.

Thank you Fastcase, founders Ed Walters and Phil Rosenthal for taking the time to recognize the  "unsung heroes" who are helping the legal profession navigate the stormy seas to the  reinvented practice of law.
 

A Big Week for a Small Company: Fastcase Partnering with HeinOnline and Releasing Topical Advance Sheets


This is the first alignment of independent legal publishers that I can recall.. As a consumer of  legal information, I appreciate the importance of small publishers in the legal information ecosphere. Past  publishing partnerships involved companies of wildly disproportionate size and market power. This partnership has delightful symmetry and counterpoint (Hein offers  deep archive of primary and secondary historical materials, Fastcase has a  primary law research system which offers futuristic visualization tools, search algorithms and the "bad law bot."   I applaud this partnership of  two high quality niche publishers..

Ed Walters at New Fastcase HQ
c. Jean O'Grady
“Fastcase and HeinOnline are two of the largest independent legal publishers in America,” said Ed Walters, CEO of Fastcase. “Integrating these two libraries is a home run for our members. Both services create unique values based on citation analysis and the information architecture of the law. Beyond the fantastic new libraries our users can access, we’re also making our tools smarter as they learn from these new citation relationships.”

Customers Win Concurrently, Hein will provide HeinOnline materials to Fastcase, allowing Fastcase users to search across content available in the Law Journal Library, Session Laws Library, State Attorney General Reports and Opinions, and State Statutes: A Historical Archive. The new libraries will be fully integrated into Fastcase’s search system, and Fastcase users will see Hein results and abstracts for free, with subscription options for the full articles. The Hein collection will include more than 1,800 law reviews back to their first volumes, and represents the first secondary material to be integrated into the Fastcase legal research service.

New Topical Advance Sheets


Last year, Fastcase began releasing jurisdictional  digital "advance sheets" which report judicial opinions as they are released.. They will now be publishing  topical slices of newly released federal opinions in a new suite of  advance sheets which are released as eBooks.

The new titles include: Federal Personal Injury, Trademark, Securities, Patent and Antitrust.

The thing I really like about the Fastcase advance sheets are the "skeuomorphic" features. You experience traditional  book features including the shaded binding  between two pages and have the natural experience of page turning.

New Digs Too

Fastcase is also in the process of moving to new digs in the Penn Quarter section of DC.  . Welcome to the neighborhood!

Fastcase 50 2013 and they announced the Fastcase 50 today. Congrats to the Fastcase 50 Winners!

 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Practice Innovations: Emerging Law Librarian Roles, Key Client Planning, ISO 2000, Future Library Design

The July edition of Practice Innovations from Thomson Reuters was just released and it includes an interesting array of articles of interest to law firm executives in a wide ranges of areas including, procurement, business development, process improvement, knowledge and library management,. Below you can link directly to articles of interest.



ISO 2000 for Law Firms by Linda Will





Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Bloomberg Law Securities Practice Center: Process Improvement Plus, Hold On to Your Seats--There is Something New in Edgar Research

When Bloomberg Law acquired BNA in September 2011, they promised to develop sophisticated practitioner pages. Today they are announcing the release of the The Securities Practice Center  which integrates laws and regulations; opinions and dockets; SEC and SRO materials; books, treatises, Bloomberg BNA Law Reports and Portfolios, plus a broad range of transactional resources, including the DealMaker Document Search with over 300,000 real transaction documents. The "gold plated" Bloomberg Business company information, news and data which can drive custom alerts  is also woven throughout the platform. It is clear that Bloomberg is also responding in part  to Thomson Reuters acquisition of PLC and the LexisNexis development of Practice Advisor as well as the sophisitcated No Action Letter research offerings from Intelligize.
 
Bloomberg Law Securities Practice Center
All In For Subscribers Maintaining their "no exclusions" policy, the Securities Law Practice Center  will be available to all Bloomberg Law subscribers at no additional cost.

Something New in EDGAR filings, No Kidding! I have to be honest, every time someone offers new EDGAR content I groan at the thought of yet one more option in an over saturated market. But Bloomberg Law had done something interesting!
 


Bloomberg Law's new EDGAR functionality includes market-based search filters, related document stock charts and side-by-side and redlined views of results produced in Item and Risk Factor searches, with the option to compare your own text with other filings.
 
This means you can read an EDGAR filing and look at what the stock was doing  before during and after disclosed events! I have worked with enough Securities Litigators to know that what used to be a complex research project can now be handled with one click! I can't think of any competitor offering this kind of contextual data integration.



EDGAR filing with related stock price data

 Partners Using BLaw for Business Development
 
Is is also notable in the press release reprinted  below includes a quote from a partner regarding how he uses Blaw for Business Development:
 
"My need for research information comes at two major points in time—when I am reaching out to new clients and when I am addressing the often complex securities issues they face," said Nicolas Morgan, DLA Piper Partner and West Coast Chair of the firm's Securities Enforcement Practice. "Bloomberg Law's smart, practical format allows me to find the securities information I need quickly and the alerts function helps me stay ahead of potential problems."
 
New Features Include:


  •  Distinct Securities Law Practice Pages. Dedicated categories for financial services, capital markets and securities litigation feature tailored access to relevant primary and secondary resources designed to streamline workflow and provide a competitive edge.
  • Enhanced EDGAR Search. Bloomberg Law's new EDGAR functionality includes market-based search filters, related document stock charts and side-by-side and redlined views of results produced in Item and Risk Factor searches, with the option to compare your own text with other filings.
  • Fielded No-Action Letter Search. Bloomberg Law’s new specialized No-Action Letter Search includes multiple fields that enable you to narrow your search, allowing for fast, efficient research of SEC guidance and interpretation and helping to ensure that relevant letters are at your fingertips.
  • "Go-To" Citation Search. Next-generation navigation provides quick access to securities laws and regulations, including major Acts, the Code of Federal Regulations, and SEC and CFTC materials–all in one place.
The Securities practice center goes live today (with the exception of the Edgar module which goes live on Thursday July 11th.) Previously released practice centers include Tax, Antitrust, Banking & Finance, Employee Benefits, Intellectual Property, Bankruptcy, Corporate/M&A, Health, and Labor & Employment. .

The Press Release:
__________________________________________________________________________________
Bloomberg Law Launches Enhanced Securities Practice Center

Advanced Tools, Features and Practice-Oriented Design Help Securities Lawyers Efficiently Integrate

Critical Content Into Their Workflow and Stay on Top of the Latest Developments

 

New York - Bloomberg Law, the legal and business intelligence research system from the world leader in data and information services, today launched a series of enhancements to its Securities Practice Center designed to provide practitioners with the next generation of tools, resources and analysis to best serve their clients.

 The Securities Practice Center seamlessly integrates laws and regulations; opinions and dockets; SEC and SRO materials; books, treatises, Bloomberg BNA Law Reports and Portfolios; and much more.  A broad range of transactional resources, including the DealMaker Document Search with over 300,000 real transaction documents, and the renowned Bloomberg company information and news, provide users with superior value. All Bloomberg Law users have access to the enhanced Securities Law Practice Center as part of their subscription.

"Bloomberg Law's Practice Centers integrate primary and secondary sources with advanced practice tools to provide a comprehensive resource unique to a particular practice area and the Securities Practice Center has long been a cornerstone," said Joe Breda, Bloomberg Law’s head of product. “We listened carefully to our clients as we built on that strength to add a new level of content, analysis and tools oriented around the way practitioners work."

"My need for research information comes at two major points in time—when I am reaching out to new clients and when I am addressing the often complex securities issues they face," said Nicolas Morgan, DLA Piper Partner and West Coast Chair of the firm's Securities Enforcement Practice. "Bloomberg Law's smart, practical format allows me to find the securities information I need quickly and the alerts function helps me stay ahead of potential problems." 
 
The Securities Practice Center allows users to take advantage of integrated resources across Bloomberg Law's award-winning legal research platform, including powerful new features:

·         Distinct Securities Law Practice Pages. Dedicated categories for financial services, capital markets and securities litigation feature tailored access to relevant primary and secondary resources designed to streamline workflow and provide a competitive edge.

·         Enhanced EDGAR Search.  Bloomberg Law's new EDGAR functionality includes market-based search filters, related document stock charts and side-by-side and redlined views of results produced in Item and Risk Factor searches, with the option to compare your own text with other filings.

·         Fielded No-Action Letter Search. Bloomberg Law’s new specialized No-Action Letter Search includes multiple fields that enable you to narrow your search, allowing for fast, efficient research of SEC guidance and interpretation and helping to ensure that relevant letters are at your fingertips.

·         "Go-To" Citation Search. Next-generation navigation provides quick access to securities laws and regulations, including major Acts, the Code of Federal Regulations, and SEC and CFTC materials–all in one place.

In addition, Bloomberg Law's Securities Practice Center makes it easy to search securities opinions and dockets, stay on top of the latest industry developments and provide clients with optimal solutions.  All users have unlimited access to EDGAR Search, the SEC No-Action Letter Search, example transactional documents and clauses, Bloomberg Law's deep library of regulatory materials and analysis, Bloomberg's acclaimed securities news coverage and company information, and trusted secondary sources, including Bloomberg BNA’s Alternative Investment Law Report® and White Collar Crime Report™, and an extensive selection of Practising Law Institute securities law treatises. 

 

Bloomberg Law developed its Practice Centers based on practitioners’ feedback of what is most important to their areas of specialty. Each Practice Center integrates in-depth legal analysis, commentary and news with time-saving tools and key primary sources to help give attorneys a comprehensive, nuanced understanding of the issues unique to their particular practice areas.  In addition to Securities, Bloomberg Law Practice Centers include Tax, Antitrust, Banking & Finance, Employee Benefits, Intellectual Property, Bankruptcy, Corporate/M&A, Health, and Labor & Employment.
 
About Bloomberg Law



 

Bloomberg Law is a legal and business intelligence, news and research system designed for leading legal professionals who are focused on delivering superior client service. By integrating Bloomberg’s renowned news, company and financial data with primary and secondary legal research and business development tools, Bloomberg Law delivers an advantage to legal professionals who handle the most complex legal matters. Presented in a sophisticated yet easy-to-use interface, Bloomberg Law allows subscribers unlimited desktop and mobile access to the information in the system–as often as they want and whenever they want. For more information, visit BloombergLaw.com.

About Bloomberg

Bloomberg, the global business and financial information and news leader, gives influential decision makers a critical edge by connecting them to a dynamic network of information, people and ideas. The company’s strength–delivering data, news and analytics through innovative technology, quickly and accurately–is at the core of the Bloomberg Professional service, which provides real time financial information to more than 315,000 subscribers globally. Headquartered in New York, Bloomberg employs more than 15,000 people in 192 locations around the world.

 

Friday, July 5, 2013

ALM Releases 2013 Librarian Survey: Spending Down, Embedding , Complex Research and Competitive Intelligence Surge. How Do Law Librarians Do It All?

American Lawyer Media Legal Intelligence released the 2013 Law Librarian Survey data earlier this week.

 Library Chiefs  Rule Contract Negotiations

Firms recognize the special expertise of Library Directors in high ticket and complex licencing negotiations. 87% of the firms have kept this responsibility in the hands of the Library Director.

In reviewing the data I am struck by the terrific challenge library chiefs face in the current environment. Law firm profits are reviving, lawyers continue to demand the best and most strategic information resources for their practices and yet  library chiefs have succeeded in containing costs. The survey give clues how they achieve this. Librarians are sharp negotiators who assess not only price but the comparative value and usability of the content. They also employ sophisticated tools for analysing the ROI for the resources they invest in. These talents are paying off big time for the firms which employ these experts.  


The Big Movers: Embedding, Complex Research  Competitive Intelligence and Social Media Monitoring

A few trends showed dramatic changes from the prior year or made a strong first appearance in the survey

  • 72% of are embedding librarian in practice groups up from 14% in 2012.
  • 75% report that librarians are performing legal research previously performed by lawyers up 16% from 59% in 2012.
  • Manzama a social media monitoring tool jumped to the top of the news aggregation tools and is used in 40% of the responding firms.

A Sampling of Key Trends From the 2013 Law Library Survey

  • 58% of Library Chiefs are responsible for overseeing Competitive Intelligences
  • 43 % of Library Chiefs are responsible for Knowledge management
  • The average budget was down $500,000
  • Fewer firms were purchasing eBooks.  Number dropped from 24% to 21% of libraries.
Librarians: AFA/Insourcing Trend in Practice Support

Firms appear to be recognizing the value and expertise of research staff in delivering lower cost/ high value results to clients. Librarians are increasingly their volume of legal research formerly handled by lawyers. 75% of respondents report that librarians are performing complex legal research. This could be the result of librarians having the expertise in specialized research platforms or a general decline in lawyers research skills. There was a decline in the value of work billed by clients which might also suggest that lawyers are shifting AFA work the research staff.
  
Outsourcing and Centralization

For  several years Library Chiefs has been spearheading initiatives to streamline library operations through centralization and outsourcing administrative operations.  I am uncomfortable with the results reported regarding centralization and outsourcing. The ALM data actually suggests both centralization and outsourcing are declining. Centralization was down in in all categories except Contract negotiations. This doesn't seem likely. When I asked ALM to validate the data they responded that the wording of the question had changed in the past year. But they have not yet provided me with the wording of the 2012 question.

Low Cost Centers: The Trend That Was Not Tracked

An issue related to outsourcing was not even on the survey. The newer trend of migrating work to lower cost centers was not addressed in the survey. In the past year several ALM 100 firms began moving some work to low cost centers and this is a trend that should be measured in future reports. In one case the entire library was relocated, in most instances, selected functions were moved to the low cost center.


Research Support
A new question asked how much time the staff spending on research to support clients or business development (69%).  59% of respondents report the centralization of research. It is not clear how many are referring to a centralized staffing location or alternatively to a virtual centralization which creates a unified workflow across multiple locations. But one obvious benefit of centralized virtual research is expanding the hours of coverage by taking advantage of time zone differences.
 

The Long Slow Death of Cost Recovery

In just 4 year there has been a dramatic decline in the number of firms which recover more than 60% of their online costs. In 2009 51% of firms reported recovering more than 60% of their online costs. In 2013 it is down  a whopping firm22% to 29% of responding firms. This is no doubt due in part to the growth of AFAs and client demands for cost reduction.
  
Recommendations
  • Since this survey covers the Amlaw 200, I recommend that ALM add questions on cost per attorney and staffing of services per attorney. This would  provide valuable metrics for benchmarking.
  • Query dollar amount of print spending. Yes it will be a kind of deathwatch.
  • Query the amount spent for new specialized digital products
  • Ask  for the name of one new speciality resource which was acquired and why it was purchased.
  • Add question on low cost centers
There is a lot more detail and many other issues addressed in the full report. I look forward to the ALM Survey presentation at the upcoming AALL Annual conference in Seattle.