Happy Hamsters Are Back on Their Wheel

There’s been a good couple of years since the credit crunch kicked in that Law Librarians News and House of Butter have really quite enjoyed reporting the business of legal publishing.

Revenues & profits down at the duopoly, talk of Google Law and more; as well as a host of new ideas and concepts for the future of legal publishing. OK some of those ideas were either over ambitious or a little bit crackpot, but fun to investigate and report.

At least though, it felt for a glorious 18 months or so that change was in the air.

And change there has been, but as one Mr Rotten said at the San Francisco’s Winterland on 14 January 1978, at the end of the aptly titled Stooges cover No Fun, Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated.

And that’s a bit how we feel here at House of Butter.

When the Crunch came along we willed change.

Short Digression: As we’re referencing music in this post to keep the interest levels up here’s two great crunch songs

Crunch Song 1

Crunch Song 2

Unfortunately our naive dream that Lexis or West would change their spots to reflect a new market was short lived. Remember the talk at West of library consultants about a year ago. They didn’t last long did they? — along with the other “savings” (read redundancies) throughout the publishing side of both businesses and the move from publishing original content to “process” and the mass purchase of Legal IT companies the world over.

Which leads us to those hamsters. Once again the quarterly reports are coming in thick and fast, the tone of which remind us of those furry little creatures who like to spend all their time hopping in the wheel of death and going round and round, faster and faster ….round and round, faster and faster and so on and so forth.

We’ll use as our example the latest transcript from T. West’s Q.1 2011 report by chief legal division hamster Tom Glocer. You can, though, substitute any legal publishing executive (hamster) from either of the companies and it’d all read the same.

Mr Glocer at West legal is a happy little hamster again. The wheel is beginning to turn faster again and one can sense the excitement levels building as this happens. Here we go back to 2004/5/6/7.

Revenues are up again and $US40 million “savings” is the figure they are working toward by year’s end. Nothing more enjoyable than writing endless reports identifying where “savings” can be made and all the better that we can all feel comfortable returning to pre-crash semantics in press releases and company reports.

Here’s a taste. It’s not so much what’s said but how it’s said; and it’s also worth noting that the best way to build a legal content company is to sell a legal content division.

In the Legal segment, the benefits of our investments over the past few years are reflected in a 10% increase in revenues in the quarter, with contributions from across the unit. And in Markets, our $1.1 billion Enterprise business also grew 10% from increased demand for our low latency real-time offerings delivered over our new Elektron platform and from global expansion. 

Lastly, we’re also focused on accelerating our organic growth by reallocating capital and talent to drive growth in returns across the company. Today, we announced the planned divestiture of 2 businesses in the Markets division, which, when combined with the proceeds of the previously announced sales of BAR/BRI and our Scandinavian Legal and Tax & Accounting businesses, are expected to deliver approximately $1 billion for reinvestment in the attractive opportunities that we continue to find in our core businesses.

Not much else for us to say on the topic except that every legal librarian should playlist this song ( and share with their local legal publishing rep.

Finally, on an entirely different topic we’re currently impressed by UK firm Norton Rose who sent us a very detailed press release about the appointment of a new Chief Information Officer and KM Manager 

Rarely do law firms send out releases highlighting appointments in the information part of the firm and even more rarely do they send out releases placing positions like Information Officers on the same pedestal as Partners.

The Australian firm Blake Dawson Waldron used to do this but no longer. And, in fact, we’re struggling to count on one hand the number of times we’ve received press releases highlighting the plainly obvious fact that senior positions within the information-related part of a firm are as important as those of practitioners

We’d love to see more PR people at law firm taking their lead from Norton Rose

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