Bloomberg, BNA and the Brain

Bloomberg reminds me of the character The Brain from the Animaniacs cartoon Pinky and the Brain:

Pinky: “Gee, Brain, what do you want to do tonight?”
The Brain: “The same thing we do every night, Pinky—try to take over the world!”

This is evidenced in the November 28, 2011 issue of Newsweek with its Business Media article “Bloomberg’s Plan for World Domination,” by Nick Summers.

“With a one-two punch of news and data, Bloomberg L.P. has built a global empire over the last 30 years.”  Click on the link above to see a chart of how it breaks down.

The article discussed Bloomberg’s $ 990 million acquisition of BNA and writes that “. . . every lawyer,lobbyist, and lawmaker in the capital depends on BNA’s proprietary data to do his or her job . . . “

Court TV and American Lawyer founder Steven Brill, who once “lusted after BNA,” is quoted as saying, “. . . [BNA] is very high-margin, high-priced, and specialized . . . “

From the Newsweek article:  “Now Bloomberg can feed BNA’s sought-after data directly to BLaw . . . The result: a one-stop shop.”

In my opinion, this one-stop shopping synthesis of information from a rich and wide variety of sources — high-quality secondary sources, all primary authority, dockets, pleadings, crowd-sourced commentary, and more can only enrich the research experience. 

 

Thomson Reuters in the news

From a Wall Street Journal report:

Thomson Reuters Profit Jumps 93%

. . . WestlawNext, which has been sold to over 24,000 customers since its launch in early 2010 and is helping to offset downward pressure stemming from continuing weakness in business from large law firms. Legal revenue increased 9% to $843 million for ongoing businesses and before currency adjustments.

And this from a story in yesterday’s Financial Times, “Thomsons grow restless over Reuter’s progress,” (p. 17, by David Gelles and Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson).

. . . the company’s focus is largely on its Eikon platform, which was designed as a rival to the Bloomberg terminal.  Outside observers acknowledge that Eikon was well conceived. “Eikon is a fantastic idea and if they have time it will go far, ” said [Douglas B. Taylor, managing partner at Burton-Taylor International Consulting].  “It won’t be a Bloomberg killer, but it will reset the bar for Thomson Reuters.”

Latest Version of BLAW released

Bloomberg has released its latest version of Bloomberg Law (BLAW), featuring, among other things:

  • a redesigned interface for more intuitive navigation
  • enriched search capabilities for faster information retrieval with  less time spent searching and more time for analyzing and applying findings
  • new practice area centers offering specific resources to quickly and easily access primary and secondary sources, news and analysis
  • enhanced collaboration and workflow features building on Bloomberg Law’s [BLAW's] workspace tools to help users research faster, stay organized and share securely

See: Bloomberg Law Releases Latest Evolution of its Web Platform

Bloomberg Continues Ramp-Up in BLAW, Integrating Statutory Code Annotations with Digests

Bloomberg continues to ramp up its BLAW product with the very useful integration of annotations in its statutory codes (so far the United States Code and New York’s Consolidated Laws) and the Bloomberg Law Digest (BBLD).

As an example, if one retrieves the initial section of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12101, it is now possible to conveniently view (and copy/link to/work with) both the U.S. Code annotations and the corresponding BBLD topics “Government” and “Social Security” in the BLAW side frames.

BLAW Returns to Bloomberg’s Traditional Strength in Generating Excellent Company Reports

As Bloomberg continues its ramp up of its web-based BLAW product, it is great to see it return to a traditional Bloomberg strength in quickly generating excellent company reports.

See — as a sample — this most handy, 55-page company report on IBM (International Business Machines Corp.), generated as of 1 April 2010.

It includes:

  1. company overview;
  2. historical price, volume, and earnings data
  3. federal litigation analytics
  4. most recent litigation
  5. company management
  6. financial results
  7. debt and equity offerings
  8. holdings
  9. company hierarchy
  10. corporate actions
  11. most recent filings; and
  12. recent company news

Bloomberg Adds California Practice Page on BLAW

Bloomberg has recently added a California Practice Page to its new BLAW web-based product.

This new page contains California-related current awareness (news, legislative events, court opinions, etc.) plus the California Codes, administrative rulemakings, court forms and rules and Bloomberg’s California Law Digest.

Bloomberg’s ambitions

A big article in today’s New York Times Business Section, “At Bloomberg, A Modest Strategy To Rule The World,” by Stephanie Clifford and Julie Creswell, includes a one-sentence reference to Bloomberglaw.com:

“On the hunt for new customers, Bloomberg is testing a Web-based product aimed at law firms.”

“Pay-out to staff as Bloomberg sales fall”

This is the headline in today’s Financial Times.  The article, written by Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson, reports that:

“In a rare disclosure by the privately held news and data company, Bloomberg said its total terminal numbers had fallen by 11,470 or 4 per cent, from a peak last November of 268,800.”

However, even with the drop in the sale of terminals, revenues for Bloomberg in the last year have risen from $5.8 billion dollars to $6.2 billion dollars and  Bloomberg is ‘planning to add 1000 employees’.

Bloomberglaw.com’s “Fantastic” Feature

Perhaps it was fitting that on the day the Dow surged past 9,000 Bloomberg pitchman Ken Sanchez gave a presentation here at Stanford on the Bloomberglaw.com pilot program, set to launch on August 13th.  Mr. Sanchez is as dynamic, energetic  and entertaining a vendor representative as I have ever seen.  The presentation he gave yesterday to librarians and law school researchers elicited some true “wows” from the audience.

In particular a law school senior analyst said “Fantastic!” when Mr. Sanchez demonstrated the Active Workspace and Notepad features.  I see many uses for these features in the curriculum as well, especially for the subject areas covered by the Bloomberglaw.com pilot:  Appellate Practice, Bankruptcy, Federal Securities, and New York Law.

The Active Workspace is a collaboration space, and the law school curriculum these days is all about collaboration.  It moves Bloomberglaw.com from being “just” a research tool, to a classroom technology tool.  And there are uses for collaboration beyond the classroom — clinics, journals, projects, and more.    When Mr. Sanchez pulled up a case in Bloomberglaw.com, he activated a Notepad feature where a yellow “pad” popped up next to the case for the user to take notes; these notes can then be saved to the Workspace. Anyone, even non Bloomberglaw users, may have access to the Active Workspace content.  Documents from Bloomberglaw.com can be annotated and mixed with uploaded files from anywhere, and the entire Workspace effort can be shared with anyone. 

I agree with our analyst:  Fantastic!

The pilot is set to roll out on August 13, and run until the end of the calendar year.  The aim is for Bloomberglaw.com to then fully launch in January 2010.  This is impressive for a project that began only in September 2008.

Bloomberg Old and New

We gave our Advanced Legal Research class a brief (about 40 minutes) introduction to Bloomberg Law law week.  As soon as we logged on to Bloomberg one student raised her hand and asked, “Why does it look the way it does?”  And as part of an in-class exercise we asked for their impressions of the database, and I have copied some of them below.

Meanwhile our colleague John Palfrey is twittering today about Bloomberg’s new interface. John is at the University of Pennsylvania law school for an academic law librarians conference and Bloomberg presented there, saying it will launch the new BLAW this summer … a “very slick” interface, according to John and “much more so than the big 2″ [i.e., LexisNexis and Westlaw].

John tweets that BLAW will also have “a shared work and presentation environment — a ‘Workbench’ — that would allow collaboration within the BLAW world.”

We at Stanford get to see the new interface next month, and I can’t wait to see it.

And here are some of our students’ impressions of the old (present) Bloomberg:

I thought the comment about how “Retro” (or, to be more honest, how “ugly”) the Bloomberg Terminal interface was lead to an interesting discussion.  I’ve been resistant to learn Bloomberg largely because of how intimidating the interface is.  I think making searches intuitive is a major challenge for a lot of legal research (compare Westlaw/Lexis to, say, Google) and I’m glad people are finally starting to realize that, and improve the interface/search interpretation protocols.

Bloomberg’s interface isn’t lawyer-friendly, but its docket database is fantastic.  The ability to see, on a national map, all of the cases filed against a company on a particular issue and to see the law firms involved is great for lawyers involved in complex litigation.  Looking forward to the web-based interface.

. . . [Bloomberg] does seem to have a variety of information available — I even saw some Above the Law posts listed . . .

Bloomberg is particularly intriguing.  With the current interface I don’t think I could ever actually use it.  The colors and layout were not user-friendly, so I’m glad to hear it is changing.  I also don’t understand the added security measure of a special log-in key [the B Unit].  Nonetheless, the database itself seemed useful, especially for its streamlined news service and inclusion of case filings and court dockets.

Bloomberg, while seemingly requiring considerable background knowledge to operate efficiently, seems to contain a wealth of interesting information.  In particular, I was impressed by the Docket monitors, and how you could see when and where companies were sued, who represented them, etc.

I thought it was interesting that Bloomberg is only now trying to make its interface more legal-user-friendly.  I find it really difficult to look at at the present time. . . .

I didn’t realize how extensive Bloomberg’s court filings and docket database is.  I liked the feature of Bloomberg that allowed us to see a geographical breakdown of where companies are being sued and also a breakdown of what firms were representing them.

As a public interest student, I was shocked to be so impressed with the Bloomberg Law search capabilities.  In particular, the search by company that shows type of litigation both listed and charted, suits by state, and contact info. for parties with all docket info.  This would be very helpful in a public interest setting as well.

Bloomberg actually looks really useful.  I liked the way they organize the news by company and then by topic.  . . . if the case summaries explain the citator symbol (e.g., explaining why the case is no longer good), then Bloomberg would be awesome.

Frankly I was amazed by the sheer range of information available on Bloomberg.  The summaries of news, trends and general developments in litigation are transaction was particularly striking.

It’s interesting that Bloomberg allows you to do keyword searches of multiple dockets.  The colors and layout are rather distracting.