A Recap of the AALL-LexisNexis Tying Controversy

Referring to my Nov. 8, 2018 LLB post entitled So what’s up? Is AALL going to follow up on the LexisNexis tying controversy? a reader asked what I knew about the current status of the AALL-LexisNexis tying dispute last week. My response: to the best of my knowledge, nothing has happened since the July 2, 2018 meeting between AALL officers and LN where LN executives served up the company’s usual word salad over this controversy.

The reader could have but didn’t ask:

  • “Will the LexisNexis tying matter be on the agenda for the executive board’s next meeting?” Don’t know. Too soon to say because the meeting’s agenda will not be released until early April.
  • “If not, does this mean that the executive board doesn’t intend to take legal or commercial action after the unproductive July 2, 2018 meeting?” I fear it may.

What AALL has done so far.  After fielding requests for assistance from law firms without obtaining satisfactory resolutions of the tying complaints, CRIV recommended that the executive board issue a “letter of disapproval.” The matter was placed on the executive board’s Spring 2018 meeting agenda and after the meeting the executive board issued a statement that the executive board was going to investigate LN’s tying sales policy.

On June 7, 2018, the executive board sent LN’s CEO Mike Walsh a letter criticizing the tying sales policy and calling for a meeting to resolve the controversy. That meeting took place of July 2, 2018 and was reported to the rank-and-file membership. In a nutshell, LN stonewalled AALL by stating that  the company is unable to discuss any product packaging or pricing matters, except with their customers, since each relationship is customized to meet the firm’s needs, and because Lexis has negotiated NDAs with all of its customers. From the meeting’s summary prepared by AALL:

“AALL President Greg Lambert strongly urged Lexis leadership to reconsider the new practice. While we do not anticipate that will occur, he further urged that they communicate fully to the membership and to their individual customers at the local level the specifics of this new sales practice and how it will affect them when renewing their Lexis contracts. … AALL will continue to pursue any rights we might have in addressing these product-tying policies.”

Since then, CRIV has continued to field requests for assistance by law firms over the tying policy and on Nov. 29, 2018, CRIV brought up the matter during its semi-annual vendor call once again. In essence, LN’s response stated its tying policy was legal so the company was going to continue executing it. Here’s one pertinent part of LN’s statement to CRIV:

“We appreciated the time and effort the AALL leadership team put into sharing their insights on our products and pricing. We will certainly keep these perspectives in mind as we move forward. We also were grateful for the opportunity to discuss our integrated product strategy and our compliance process that includes internal and external legal review of all pricing and packaging prior to release to customers.”

And that’s where the matter stands.  If it is not on the Spring 2019 executive board meeting agenda, then in all likelihood, AALL’s first significant attempt at consumer advocacy for law firms in many, many years has failed due to the executive board’s collective lack of will power to stand by its statements.

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