Strategic Librarian

Using strategy to develop the law firm library.

Westlaw or Lexis: Single Source Analysis


The following is a case study we just added to our web site.   I thought it might interest some of the Strategic Librarian readers.

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 Challenge

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.

The Solution

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.

The Result

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…