Saturday, February 5, 2011

Adoption of WestlawNext by Big Law

It has been a year since the February 8, 2010 launch of WestlawNext. Thomson Reuters has decided to celebrate this anniversary with a press release carried by PR Newswire and picked up by CNBC here.

The release is interesting both in what it says and what it doesn't say. First,
"...since its launch on Feb. 8, 2010, over 15,000 law firms; corporate law departments; and law departments in federal, state and local government organizations have upgraded to WestlawNext..."
But, 15,000 new subscribers is a drop in the proverbial bucket of the total number of law firms, corporate law departments, etc., etc., that are out there. A far more interesting figure would be what percentage of their total subscribers have upgraded to WestlawNext.

Next (no pun intended), they say that 33 of 100 Am Law 100 firms have upgraded to WestlawNext. The Am Law 100 is a construct of the ABA and includes the largest 100 firms in the United States. But if 33 of the largest firms - those most likely to have sufficient assets to acquire and actually use WestlawNext - have upgraded what about the the other 67 firms? Have they rejected WestlawNext, are they still negotiating their new subscription agreement, or are they waiting until all the beta issues are resolved? Who knows. What we do know is that we are only seeing part of the entire picture.

Our real concern should not be with those "Big Law" firms from the Am Law 100. Our real concern should be with the small firms, the medium sized firms that are the actual backbone of the practice of American law. How many of them have upgraded to WestlawNext?

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