Archive for the ‘Financial Management’ Category
It has been 11 years since I cancelled my first set of reporters. What followed was the cancellation of all print reporters in that firm. Like many of you reading this post also experienced, it wasn’t easy. That said, we can now say that most of the lawyers within firms (who cancelled reporters) have made the transition from print to electronic/online case law.
What’s next? Many firms are making decisions to go with a preferred provider – Westlaw or Lexis – to cut costs. The CIOs, CMOs, and CKOs who now oversee the library or research department see this as a way to reduce paying for duplication. Depending on what content your firm uses, this may or may not be the best way to proceed. Even so, while this may be necessary there may be strategies you can use to manage costs of online services.
Note: I realize that many firms have already taken some of these steps or have it planned for the future. I also understand that all of these suggestions may be or not be right for your firm depending on needs and culture.
- If you have a flat rate contract or a special offer that includes case law, cancel your print reporters.
- If your flat rate contract or special offer includes access to the online digests, start training your users on the use of these tools. Eventually, you will be able to cancel the digests.
- If your firm is serious about recovering costs for online resources and you haven’t already implemented an ERM tool for client/matter validation, do so now. It will pay for itself and then some.
- If your flat rate contract(s) exclude resources and/or you have access to other resources with the same content, use ERM tools to redirect your users to the right resource. It is a lot easier than training users to select the right resource.
- If you haven’t already done so, cancel the print versions of the newsletters or journals you now get in electronic format.
- If you have WK Intelliconnect, BNA libraries and electronic newsletters, or RIA CheckPoint, or other similar services cancel the print newsletters and looseleafs that provide the same content as those services and use ERM tools to block access to the databases with the same content on Westlaw and Lexis. Alternatively, you can use those same tools to redirect your users to the right resource.
- If your firm attempts to recover costs for Westlaw and if you have Westlaw eLibraries that include caselaw where you don’t charge clients for the use, remove all case law from the eLibraries. If you don’t, you will very likely see eLibraries cannibalize the cost recovery of your Westlaw contract. I’ve done analysis of eLibrary use where the trend line in my spreadsheet showed the use of eLibraries went up at the same rate that the use of Westlaw went down, eventually meeting at a point that the lines crossed.
- If you’ve worked with Lexis to set up custom user interfaces (CUI), it is very likely that the use of the interfaces are charged separately from your main contract. The issue that I’ve seen arise is that the use of these CUIs is generally low. This can be changed with the proper training and by redirecting the use of the resources using your ERM tool. Just make sure they get used or cancel them.
- If your firm charges clients for online services and you are considering adding expert witness or briefs and pleadings to your contract, don’t. The use of these types of resources are so closely tied to litigation matters that clients are generally willing to pay for their use. They don’t represent the library resources that clients expect to be treated as overhead.
- If your firm doesn’t require refresher training for online resources, recommend that they do so and that it become an ongoing program. A lot of the client push back of cost recovery is based on the high costs. Researchers that participate in cost-effective research training will research online more effectively, reducing those costs.
- If you don’t have a research portal that provides personalized access to resources, implement one. It will reduce the time researchers spend looking for the right resource and reduce costs for the firm’s clients.
These are just a few ideas based on experience. I would love to hear other ideas for cost cutting, cancellations of duplicates, etc. I would also like to hear from you if you don’t agree with me.
- Is there a better way to do (legal) research? (therunninglibrarian.co.uk)
We’ve had discussions with firms who are interested in reducing their spend on online legal research by reducing the cost of their contracts or in moving to one legal research resource – Westlaw or Lexis.
Reducing the cost of the contract is most often done by benchmarking the firm’s contracts for these resources against other firm’s contracts to determine if they have a good contract or to start the process of negotiating a lower price. We do this type of work with our partner BST who has years of experience in expense management and contract negotiation.
The possibility of moving to a single source, the topic of this case study requires more analysis of firm needs than benchmarking. To really make an informed decision, the firm’s needs should be taken into consideration. While some firms may think this mean’s asking researchers about their needs others, our client in particular, have made their decision based on analysis of their usage.
Our client, a large AmLaw 100 firm, called asking to speak to us about a project they wanted to do. They were considering options, such as moving to a single source, reducing vendor contract(s), the plausibility of substituting another vendor for their current number two research vendor but they wanted the usage data to support their decision rather than just basing it on which contract meant more expense for the firm.
We started out with 6 months of usage from each vendor, organized the data to be able to compare apples to apples as well as supplemented the data with more information about each user. Once this was done, we provided spreadsheets back to the client that provided more information about usage than anything the vendor could provide. But we didn’t stop there.
Our next step was to take the enhanced data and make a decision about what database usage needed further data enhancement and analysis. With the databases selected, we created a matrix for each resource that showed the database, access points used, usage in terms of cost, whether a substitute was available on the other service, the substitute database name, and notes that showed coverage for each.
What was interesting about the project was how many Westlaw and Lexis databases (sources) there are within each resource that are exclusive to the respective vendor’s service.
Our client choose to do their own analysis with the data we provided to reach their conclusion, but we could have taken on that part of the project as well. Their response when we handed the project back to them, “We now have what we need to make a good decision. One based on the firm’s research needs to provide superior service to our clients.”
Beyond the single source decision they also plan to use the data for other analysis. We didn’t talk in detail but here are a few ideas of what could be done:
- Do specific individuals need more training?
- Are the alternative access points (e.g. Westlaw eLibraries and Lexis CUIs) provided to their users be used as expected?
- How are their users moving between the two systems?
- Is there a correlation between being good at research and successful as a lawyer? They would need more data for this but it could be provided by looking at usage history and who made partner or who partner’s see as being successful associates.
- And more…