One of our sources has forwarded us the following document written by an anonymous legal researcher who appears to have had his/her fill of Lexis Advance.
We can’t confirm any of the allegations or thoughts that the author has on Lexis.
The $ numbers though, are eye watering.
All HOB can say that in over 15 odd years reporting on the Masonic type institution that Lexis has become we wouldn’t be surprised if 100% of what is said is actually gospel.
Which begs the question.. who on earth will buy the Lexis side of LN
The saga continues…..
I have been asked, “What is going on at Lexis?” and “Why is Lexis Advance so
f#*&(d up?” so many times that I got tired of writing the same essay over and over
and over. A while ago I decided to write it down once.
There are obviously many problems at LexisNexis these days. It takes a lot of
things to go wrong together to create something as awful as Lexis Advance. In order
to keep this document to a manageable length, I restrict its scope to this. There is one
problem at LexisNexis from which all the others flow: That is, a complete lack of customer
focus. This is not a problem unique to LexisNexis. This is a common problem among
declining companies. LexisNexis is not at all unique in this regard.
Let us imagine what an ideal legal information vendor—one that has customer focus
at the center of its operations—would look like. At the heart of the product organization
we would find “Lisa.” Lisa is a total legal research geek. She has a PhD in
computer science from Caltech and a J.D. from Columbia. Lisa has argued before
the U.S. Supreme Court six times. Working under Lisa is a team of lawyers and PhD
scientists who create new, inventive ways to do legal research and access legal information.
Such a company would put out brochures that say, “We came up with this great
idea to make legal research faster and easier and we think you will love it!”
Nothing like that exists in LexisNexis. The LexisNexis product team that brought
you Lexis Advance does not have the first clue how legal research is done. Put a challenging legal research problem in front of the Lexis Advance product team and none
of them would be able to solve it. That is why LexisNexis marketing material is filled
You told us you wanted __________________ and we listened.
Because LexisNexis product team does not know what to put in a product, they have
to ask the customer, “What do you think we should do?”
But LexisNexis, aren’t you supposed to be the experts on legal research?
The problem with the ask-the-customer approach is that most customers do not
know what they want or need. I have sat through many customer interviews. The
reaction from almost all of them to product ideas was always a polite, “That’s nice.”
On occasion, I heard customers make serious, critical comments or positive suggestions
but, in nearly all cases, the customer simply has not thought about the problems
of legal research. They just want it to work. The Lexis Advance product team has no
ability to segregate the polite responses from the serious ones so the polite comments
drown out the serious one.
It is through that distorted lens that Lexis Advance comes out.
Many times I heard the Lexis Advance product team explain their knowledge of
how the legal research process works (or lack thereof). You enter a natural language
query into the Big Red Google box. Then you filter your results. What is left is your
legal research. The Lexis Advance product team truly believes that with the conviction
of a jihadi because that is how they have interpreted what they customers tell
If you think about Lexis Advance with that model in mind, the product makes perfect
sense. The problem, of course, is that this confuses search with research—and that
is why Lexis Advance is a totally useless for serious research.
Admittedly, maintaining customer focus is hard when your flagship product requires
a 3-year graduate degree to master it. Such an environment requires you to
think customer all the time to stay ahead. But LexisNexis does not even try—and you
can see it in the products.
A simple example: A member of my legal team did some legal research for me and
presented me with a couple of a Lexis Word-formatted court opinion. There is not
one place in the entire opinion where I can copy the citation so that I can paste it into
the brief. Lexis has the case heading has this—
MATCH-E-BE-NASH-SHE-WISH BAND OF POTTAWATOMI
INDIANS, Petitioner (No. 11-246) v.
DAVID PATCHAK et al. KEN L. SALAZAR, SECRETARY
OF THE INTERIOR, et al., Petitioners
(No. 11-247) v. DAVID PATCHAK et al.
—when a lawyer needs to have it like this:
Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians v. Patchak, 132 S. Ct. 2199
However, there is no place where in the printed opinion with the properly formatted
citation. It sure would be a help to have cut-and-paste “Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish
Band of Pottawatomi Indians” so that I would not have to retype the whole thing.
Also, while the party names are normally italicized, the Lexis opinion puts the reporter
pages in italics instead.
132 S. Ct. 2199
It would take no more effort to do things here the right way. But you have to know
what the right way is. You are not going to get that with the cheapest-body-per-hourprogrammers- you-can-get-from-India. LexisNexis has no capability to develop software any more. Some Harvard MBA came up with the idea to outsource software
development to Indian bodyshops—who now have LexisNexis by the proverbial
There is no core of LexisNexis software developers who acquire legalknowledge and customer focus over time. Instead, there is a constant rotation of overseas programmers who are never around long enough to learn.
You can see the effect outsourcing had on throughout the Lexis Advance product.
The Lexis case summaries of recent vintage are useless. Copy-with-cite is unpredictable
(Did it include the page number? Did it add extra text between the parentheses?).
Shepard’s signals are now misleading most of the time. Fastcase is now better
than Lexis for accurate citation checking. So how did all this happen?
The management at LexisNexis is dominated by MBAs who would be just as proficient
at creating feminine hygiene products as they are at creating legal research
products. Instead of putting the priority on doing what is best for the customer—
building better products to attract more customers—the focus is cutting costs.
Withno one at the top leading with customer focus, those at the bottom wander rudderless. The people who, for example, produce content have no idea how what they do
affects the products. It makes no difference to them if a case caption reads “Railway
Labor Executives’ Ass’n v. National Mediation Bd.” instead of “Ry. Labor Executives’ Ass’n v. Nat’l Mediation Bd.” Elsewhere, it makes no difference whether Lexis for MicrosoftOffice takes 4 minutes to scan a 30 page brief for citations.
That is why revenue at LexisNexis is dropping faster than ________________.
So what’s next? “Is this the end for Lexis?”, as one law student asks?
I suspect Reed-Elsevier (RELX or whatever MBA school teaches they should be
called), is already looking at selling LexisNexis. They clearly have figured out by now
that the investment in Lexis Advance/New Lexis Platform was squandered. They
could not possibly be blind to the frequent scatological references made by law students
(e.g., “Lexis Advance is pure f)%@ing s$#&.”).
I recently heard the amount of money invested in that irrecoverable disaster was
$700,000,000. The Reed-Elsevier management is between a rock and a hard place.
There is no way Reed-Elsevier’s investors would allow spending a similar amount to
do the necessary thing and start over from scratch.
Plus, if Reed-Elsevier gave the current LexisNexis establishment another $700,000,000, that would be squandered as well—the institutional ability to develop software and products has been drained by parent company over two decades through short-term management. LexisNexis simply does not have people who can develop concepts for legal research products and it has no capability whatsoever to implement them. Sell is the only out for Reed- Elsevier—and the quicker the better. Each 10% revenue drop will make the LexisNexis price go down (Inside LexisNexis, they are just treading water. Just survive to
The question then is “To whom?” It has to be someone who has enough cash to
not only buy LexisNexis but also to completely rebuild the company and internal systemsfrom scratch.