Vendor Colloquium Day Two Part One

Facilitator Maureen Sullivan opened the second day’s morning session by announcing a slight change in the agenda and format. Based on observing the group yesterday, she felt more work could be accomplished by discussing the value added by vendors and librarians to the flow of legal information and the challenges each face as group of the whole rather than small groups. After those discussions, the group would begin to develop possible action plans and soliciting volunteers to draft shared principles.

“What’s the value vendors bring to the flow of legal information?”

The discussion answers included:

  • By providing secondary sources and finding tools
  • Maintaining a trusted source for gathering and authenticating legal information and providing editorial quality control in an efficient and timely manner, thus contributing to “authority”
  • Experimenting generally, investing in new technologies and new authors
  • Entrepreneurial, they see and seek to make the law and complementary materials available to niche markets
  • Serving as a point of contact for sources of legal information; thus saving the time of information professionals and enabling them to add value to their clients/customers/users
  • Providing a source of information about user behaviors, i.e., Ehich databases, files are searched
  • Making containers, i.e, text containers/books that have an inherent preservation aspect
  • Monetizing the sharing of intellectual output across national lines
  • Creating standards and share them with librarians sometimes
  • Facilitating the flow of legal information from insight to analysis
  • Supporting librarians by sponsoring librarian meetings and providing groups to work specifically with law librarians
  • Providing relevant customer service for the dissemination and usage of information
  • Expanding beyond the traditional core of legal information to mashups and ancillary products/services to make lawyers and law firms more profitable and improving the quality of legal services delivered to clients

What are the challenges vendors face from content creators, content customers, and content users?


  • Explaining how suppliers, who are also competitors, sometimes place restrictions on the use and re-use of information
  • Innovating while customers experience shrinking budgets
  • Meeting the disparate needs of shareholders and customers
  • Keeping print, even when not profitable
  • Customer support – when the company has so many different products that knowing the full line is impossible
  • Customers expect legal news and analysis simultaneously; wanting more and to pay less for it
  • Createing a more efficient marketplace to find information, which is slowed by diverse needs of users segments
  • Greater segmentation and disparity between the segments of customers who have a perceived need to know more faster and who have shorter attention spans
  • Trust – skepticism among segments of AALL membership regarding the true motives of publishers because of legal publishing consolidation and expansion into new service areas
  • Complaints about pricing in different formats and format changes
  • Competition from new sources, such as Google, Bloombergand self-publishing, with a shrinking market of writers/authors of analytical content
  • Increasing need for specialized information and specialized analysis responding to changes about how law is produced and used – are indexes and cross-reference tables still useful/needed for the end-user?
  • Preserving electronic data with versioning control
  • Many different models in contract negotiations
  • Ever-changing and increasing possible delivery modes to reading devices, e.g. users want mobile access; how to invest in innovation while keeping the cost under control and to find the best way to educate trainers with the ever changing set of tools and content
  • Hard to share with competitors
  • Communicating “no,” or an answer the customer doesn’t want to hear; explaining the evolution and roll-out of new products (the risk of bloggers and tweeters misrepresenting or sharing information out of context)
  • Building relationships based on trust and civil discourse when librarians feel pressured by their bosses and skeptical of publisher’s motives
  • Globalization of business lines
  • Blending of business and consumer expectations changes the customer expectation for how legal information is delivered
  • Explaining the value of legal information to a non-consumer of legal information, i.e. CFO, administrator

Posted by Mark Estes.

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March 2011

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