A very interesting piece from a source who visited Bloomberg’s Law publishing offices recently to interview and got a very rude awakening that’ll make Lexis and West happy and therefore keep them lazy for quite some time to come
Before we head into the piece here at HOB we admit we laboured under the same mis-apprehensions as the author… eg
A) Third Player Must Be A Good Thing
B) Bloomberg Must Be More Forward Thinking Than WEXIS
C) Work Culture Would Be Better Than WEXIS
D) Employees Might Have Some Legal Knowledge or Background
We knew that the Bloomberg model was taking a dive in Asia but finding out how bad things are on home turf too is beyond disappointing
Here’s the piece and worth a re-read too
I had interviews for two different jobs at Bloomberg Law (they call it Bloomberg BNA now). I went to their offices in ____________ and ___________ just ____ days apart. I did not know what to expect before I went there (but probably should have). I had synthesized my own unrealistic view of Bloomberg from various conflicting views of the company.
First, I had a Fortune magazine view of Bloomberg. This dominated my preconceptions. I imagined I would find Bloomberg Law product teams sitting in model legal offices, working with the latest computer devices to come up with new ways for lawyers to do things.–WRONG.
Second, I had the law librarian view of Bloomberg as the knight in white shining armor that would rescue the industry from WEXIS.–WRONG
Third, I had the view from former Bloomberg Law employees who came to West. They portrayed a time clock mentality where Bloomberg likes to see you working, even if you are not producing anything.–I can’t say for sure, but believable.
Fourth, I had the T-R marketing view of Bloomberg. Every West (and Lexis) sales rep tells his customers Bloomberg is not serious about the law business. It is just sideline for their news business.–DEAD ON THE MARK.
The lack of seriousness is apparent the moment you walk through the door. West (and Lexis) could win (or retain) sales from Bloomberg simply by having their customers visit a Bloomberg Law office.
Everyone sits in rows of desks working on Bloomberg financial terminals. (You can’t make this up). I was shocked. It looks like a trading floor; not law. The woman in H.R. giving me the office tour clearly knew that this work layout made them look silly and fed me a line of _________ about how it improves collaboration. I should have asked someone, “What would a big law firm think about Bloomberg’s legal customer focus after visiting this office?” during one of the visits.
Then comes the product. I have some experience with Lexis Advance from trade shows and access through friends at law schools. This was the first time I had ever used Bloomberg Law hands on. MY GOD, it is MUCH worse than even Lexis Advance. Bloomberg Law takes legal research to a whole new level of stink. Search is appalling and it gets worse from there. They have a citator (BCITE). It is more like Keycite than Shepards but it totally sucks. I could not find anything that Bloomberg Law did well. It was very hard to navigate so I did not get very far in the product. The innovation level in Bloomberg law is zero. (I had to use the product on a Bloomberg terminal with a Bloomberg terminal keyboard.)
O.K. Bloomberg is relatively new. That means there is nowhere for Bloomberg law to go but up. But . . . .
I asked nearly everyone I spoke with how Bloomberg planned to rise in market share. No one had a clue. Bloomberg is (what?) 1% of the market and #4 behind WEXIS and Fastcase and the team has no idea what to do to move up.
The other thing I found is most folks were mushrooms (kept in the dark . . .). They knew what they were working and nothing else. When I asked a person working on ___________ about _________, he had no idea; none, whatsoever.
Another takeaway is that there is no product guru at Bloomberg Law. No one has a ten year vision of what the product will be. All of this leads me to believe Bloomberg Law is rudderless.
I was introduced to Bloomberg’s battle of conference rooms. No one has offices so they fight over a limited number of private spaces (even these are not private–they are all glass enclosures). The acme of lunacy came while meeting with the _______________ (even he does not have an office). We got interrupted by, what looked like, a 25-year-old programmer telling us our time in the conference room was up. So our interview came to a sudden end (and I did not get to the “How is Bloomberg going to move up?” question). Imagine if I had been a partner of a law firm talking about becoming a customer?
The one positive take away is that Bloomberg is not creating the type of pricing models that West and Lexis use. Our cultural need to build products like banks do creates needless system complexity. Bloomberg is staying away from that. West could learn from Bloomberg here.
Where West is hampered to some degree by the culture of T-R, Bloomberg Law is shackled in bondage and laden with lead weights by Bloomberg New’s jihadi culture.
I left both visits, scratching my head and thinking, “Bloomberg isn’t serious about law” and with a complete understanding why they are still only a blip in the market. Sorry Law Librarians, WEXIS has NOTHING to worry about from Bloomberg.