HOB – Editorial: Hurricane Season Arrives Early At West & Lexis

Rather foolishly in our last Law Librarians News editorial we noted that things were rather quiet at both Lexis & Westlaw.

News in the past week has illustrated that we couldn’t have been further from the truth.

On Tuesday we learnt that, however politely put in the press release. Blackstone had decided it was time to wield the axe at Westlaw and there’s been a major senior management overhaul; the likes of which we don’t remember seeing since earlier in the decade.

Sentences like this in press releases mean that things haven’t been ticketyboo.

“At the same time, we are working to become a faster and more agile organization, and develop the next generation of leadership and talent.”

Read the full press release  https://practicesource.com/exec-shakeout-at-tr/

Are Blackstone thinking about offloading parts of the business? If so, where might they been sold and who might buy them?

It goes without saying that if there’s the possibility of a Chinese interest in the this market we’d suggest that’s a very worrying prospect indeed.

We need only point towards the fate of  rights lawyers on the mainland, the social credit system and the dismantling of basic law in Hong Kong to sound alarm bells so loud we’d all be deafened in seconds.

We’re struggling to think where else interest might come from … suggestions on a postcard please.

Meanwhile over at Lexis, this week’s open letter by the usually fairly timid AALL has really put the cat amongst the pigeons. Sponsorships of conferences be damned it’s time to say something, and quite rightly too.

There’s anti competitive, there’s protectionism and then there’s outright gouging.

Maybe Lexis were trying to take a leaf out of Trump’s trade war book.

The photo of the week provides a great analogy. Read Merkel ( AALL / Law Librarians) and
Trump (West / LN)






If you haven’t read the AALL letter already, do so here.


The long and short of it is that sales are down across the board,. As usual technology and new ideas have been bought in and not developed in house. We’re guessing those investments and declining sales in certain areas of the business have forced management to think up some fairly drastic tactics to retain shareholder interest. The.. you must take Lexis Advance in order to access other products has as they say been the …..







Straw That Broke The Camels back at the AALL.

So where next?

What will happen at TR West? We don’t  really  know but we’d hazard a guess it’ll be a leaner operation in the next few years. Parts of the business will be sold and some may just have to discontinue. Looking back over the past 25+ years we’ve noticed that  West in all its iterations has usually weathered the storm better than Lexis although it’s worth remembering, in the past, it was publishers, who, in the end made decisions for the benefit of the business, the clients and the shareholders. Now it’s a financial group. Yes… Blackstone do have a track record in publishing so this re-alignment may just be a canny move to move the business forward.

At Lexis though things may be a little different. Will this letter be the start of a whole process of how the business is run and force them to ask questions about management, business units, investment, in-house development, client relations…the list is endless. After this storm has rolled through they’ll be needing more than FEMA to clean up the mess.

We’d suggest that there are two areas that are imperative for the company and need detailed thought strategy and planning, yesterday.

(i) A whole new look at how technology is developed and implemented is imperative. The company has to start thinking like a silicon valley organization and look at their clients and future clients. I know they think they have already done this by acquiring Lex Machina, but buying another company is not the same as instigating a new cultural outlook from the bottom up, and globally too.

(ii) Worldwide customer relations management. As much as they may like to think that their customers love them the fact is if there were another option clients would go there in droves. Ask any ex Lexis employee who no longer has to drink the Kool-Aid.

Lexis are the opioid crisis of legal publishing, unfortunately the addiction has to be fed and the consequences for the user of going cold turkey are catastrophic. So yes you’ll go out on the street and keep feeding the habit, but, eventually it’s time to go to re-hab. It looks like the AALL have decided it’s time for rehab and if they are serious about that, there may well be a flood of firms and organizations around the world who will think that it is time to start deciding about how they start to do the same thing.

Is it Lexis’ #metoo moment ?

Time will tell