Bloomberg Law on the Web, an early review

Yesterday I got a sneak peek at Bloomberg Law on the web.  There were some features I really liked, such as the “Workspace,” but overall I was not impressed by the new interface.  The overall style is drab, and I just didn’t see many bells and whistles to compete with LexisNexis and Westlaw.  I was really hoping for more.  And I so, so, so want to see Bloomberg Law succeed and soar, so that we can have a good alternative to the CALR duopoly (alleviating dependency and enabling cancellations as needed).  Competition can be a wonderful thing.

But it was nice to hear the Bloomberg representative tell us that hundreds of lawyers are hard at work at Bloomberg law right now — indexing all federal and New York State case law.  It’s affirming to know that there’s work for some lawyers somewhere!

Unique citation analysis is being done by these lawyers.  The Bloomberg Law citator feature is completely human created, not machine generated.   In addition to citation analysis, these lawyers are writing “points of law” case summaries.

The case summaries are then being fed into the Bloomberg Law digest, which is becoming more than a digest in the traditional sense.  Commentary from other sources — including articles written by judges for the truly excellent Bloomberg Law Reports, for example — is also being folded in to the digests, along with the points of law.  The digest is evolving into a major treatise of American law.

The Workspace, mentioned above, is an online space where users can store, create, annotate, upload and share documents — a collaborative workspace.  This makes amazing sense to me.

Students will like the instant online help feature; and they will actually use the service in its web-based form as it is intuitive enough, and light years better than the existing interface.  The dockets remain the strongest feature for us and will get lots of use.  I would love to see Bloomberg link its docket content to its citator, and the representative indicated that that is a possibility.

But I didn’t see other features, such as “most cited,” or even indexes to statutes and regulations — in fact, the database seems all about the cases. 

Search results are displayed by case lists.  The orange and black screen display is not pleasing to the eye, not to my eye anyway. 

My review is an early one, and based only upon a brief presentation.   The planned launch date is August 3rd, and I plan to study it  in great detail then, and will share my impressions.  So please stay tuned.

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