Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Bwexis? Blexstlaw? Make Room for Bloomberg!

LexisNexis and Westlaw have long battled for the hearts (and dollars) of legal researchers. The two premium legal information systems are so ubiquitous in law practice that many refer to the pair of market competitors with the single, Brangelina-esque nickname "Wexis." But beginning in 2004, the financial juggernaut Bloomberg began an expansion into the legal research market, albeit one limited to use on Bloomberg Professional's proprietary computer workstations (four of which are still available in Duke's Ford Library at the Fuqua School of Business and three more at the Perkins Library's Data/GIS Computer Cluster). In 2009, Bloomberg launched an alternative web-based legal research interface, Bloomberg Law, and has provided pilot access to selected law schools, including Duke. An ABA Journal cover story in February 2010 detailed the development of this version of Bloomberg Law, and the difficulties of breaking into a market so dominated by longtime competitors.

Over the summer, Bloomberg launched a new and improved web interface, and also moved to add secondary sources to its research arsenal with the addition of titles like Business Torts Litigation (2d ed.), and The M & A Process: A Practical Guide For The Business Lawyer. The company's recent $990 million purchase of BNA Publications, which publishes such key newsletters and current-awareness services as U.S. Law Week and Securities Regulation Law Report, also leaves industry experts speculating about where those will fit into the new system.

Only time will tell if Bloomberg Law will rise to the same level of ubiquity as "Wexis," not to mention how they might be worked into the legal-research portmanteau. But in the meantime, you can check out their system and make your own comparisons to Lexis and Westlaw: Bloomberg will visit Duke Law for table days on Tuesday, September 27 and Wednesday, September 28. Current Duke Law students, faculty and staff are eligible for free password access, and can sign up in advance of the visit by filling out the online registration form (Bloomberg will then email you a username and temporary password, which should be changed to something personalized and memorable).Representatives from Bloomberg will be available to answer questions about the new interface during the table days, and also to sign up interested members of the Duke Law community who didn't pre-register with the online form. In the meantime, you can learn more about Bloomberg Law by checking out the product guides on its About page.