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.”

CALR – Is the Future Now?

Yesterday was B-Day for us, the launch of Bloomberglaw.com.   Peter Schwartz’s article “The Reinvention of Legal Research: The Future Is Now” for The Huffington Post makes this observation:

The large legal publishers are in trouble. If law firms can no longer pass through online research costs to clients, multi-billion dollar legal publishers such as West and Lexis can no longer support pricing models premised on law firm cost recovery. Because West and Lexis cost structures depend on this pricing model, they are beginning to experience painful margin squeezes, compounded by the entry into the legal research marketplace of both nimble, low-cost competitors and new rivals with deep pockets such as Bloomberg.

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.