Rethinking the Dual Provider Licensing Equation

In thinking about dual provider choices for legal information vendors in the BigLaw market, I believe we tend to think the licensing equation is (Westlaw + Lexis Advance). Why? The answer may be that we tend to divide the marketplace for commercial legal information into two unique and close-to-mutually exclusive segments: general for core legal search provided by WEXIS and specialty for practice-specific legal search provided by Bloomberg BNA and Wolters Kluwer. This perspective assumes the adoption of BBNA and WK is only on a practice group/per seat basis while the adoption of WEXIS is on an enterprise/firm-wide basis. In addition to perceptions on editorial quality, where topical deep dives are expected from BBNA and WK but not WEXIS, perceived vendor pricing policies have influenced our take on the structure of this market.

According to Feit Consulting, the reality is quite different. Approximately 89% of AmLaw 200 firms license Wolters Kluwer and 72% of those WK firms license this service in an enterprise/firm-wide pricing plan, not on a practice group/per seat plan. That 72% figure means WK’s firm-wide install base in the AmLaw 200 is approximately 64%, or almost the same as Lexis Advance’s install rate in BigLaw.

The dual provider licensing equation really appears to be (Westlaw) + (Lexis or Wolters Kluwer). This is reinforced by statistics from Feit on the likelihood of vendor cancellation. Only 14% of Westlaw firms and 12% of WK firms are extremely or moderately likely to be eliminated. That’s less than half the number of firms extremely or moderately likely to eliminate Lexis (30%) and BBNA (29%). For dual provider firms, (Westlaw) + (Lexis or Wolters Kluwer) appears to be a well established equation.

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