ALM Properties, Inc.
Page printed from: Law Technology News
Select 'Print' in your browser menu to print this document.
Thomson Reuters to Acquire Practical Law Company
Law Technology News
Thomson Reuters, a software and information provider to businesses and professionals, announced Thursday that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire London-based Practical Law Company, which offers legal content and workflow tools to law firms and corporate legal departments in the UK and U.S.
Allison Guidette, managing director of Large Law Firms Segment at Thomson Reuters, said that the acquisition was in response to customer needs PLC offers customers know-how to meet the practice needs of law firms and corporate legal departments. According to Robert Dow, PLC's chair and co-founder, 80 percent of Am Law 200 law firms and more than 700 corporate legal departments in the U.S. now subscribe to the company's practice materials and resources.
When asked how PLC compares to Lexis Practice Advisor, a legal information resource for transactional lawyers, Guidette said that PLC is broader than transactions, aiming to support all research tasks presented to corporate legal departments and law firms. Ian Nelson, PLC's vice president of Business Development and Marketing, said that although PLC and LPA compete for law firm and corporate legal budgets, PLC offers legal content and workflow tools to accomplish common tasks and transactions for general counsel and law firm practice groups. LexisNexis declined to comment on the acquisition and PLC's competitive position relative to LPA.
PLC provides a wide range of legal content focused on law firm and corporate legal department transactions and tasks for many practice areas from antitrust, commercial, corporate & securities law to employee benefits & executive compensation, environmental, finance, intellectual property, and technology law. PLC's resources within each practice area include:
Practice notes: how-to guides with explanations ranging from basic overviews to detailed analysis for specialists that link to related content in documents, clauses, checklists, and articles.
PLC resources are grouped in a hierarchical arrangement by Law Firm and Law Department. I first drilled down into Law Firm materials, which are partitioned by a number of practice groups: Commercial, Corporate Securities, Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation, Finance, Intellectual Property & Technology, International Arbitration, Labor & Employment, and Federal Litigation with additional practice areas in Antitrust, Real Estate, and Tax.
I selected IP & Technology materials and found the top-level user interface is shared among all the practice materials and includes a list of the top five most popular resources accessed by customers or subscribers. Here, the most popular document was a bring-your-own-device to work (BYOD) policy with drafting notes. In a mouse click, I saved the policy my desktop and opened it in Microsoft Word document. I viewed the policy with the drafting notes, but you can also open the document without the notes and open the notes in a separate document.
Featured tools on the practice page include What's Market, Cross-border, and Glossary. These tools, along with a search window powered by Google Search Appliance, were available from most all web pages. The What's Market tool includes information on U.S. deals tracked by PLC editors in selected topic areas that includes public merger and private acquisition agreements; initial public offerings and equity offerings; commercial, license, and credit agreements; commitment letters; and executive employment agreements.
I clicked on License Agreements and PLC performed a Google search for "License Agreements" and returned a list of all agreements found. In the search results window, I filtered the agreements by IP category (patent, music, technology, etc.), industry sector, jurisdiction, and date to winnow the results to a workable set of software licensing agreements. I selected two source code purchase and license agreements to compare. I could have selected up to 50 agreements to compare. The What's Market tool gave me the option to select terms within the licensing agreements to compare and review.
PLC's Cross-Border tool provides jurisdiction-specific answers to questions on a number of litigation issues such as arbitration, data protection, and dispute resolution as well as international transaction guides for joint ventures, private company acquisitions, and topics in sales and marketing.
I selected a question and answer tool for country-specific data protection laws. The tool presented a number of questions to select along with the applicable jurisdiction.
I asked the system "What data is regulated?" and "Is notification or registration required before processing data?" in France, Germany, Italy, and Spain.
The resulting information was laid out in a serial form by question and jurisdiction, but there was no way to save it to a Microsoft Word file or other file format. I read the information on screen and copied it and pasted it into a Word document.
Law Department content was separated by practice areas such as Antitrust, Bankruptcy, Business Ethics, Finance, etc. Looking for information on e-discovery, I clicked on Federal Litigation to find information categorized as Discovery and Evidence. Practice notes included toolkits of information on attorney-client privilege, e-discovery in general, and records management.
The Records Management Toolkit contained resources to assist in-house counsel in managing records, which included how to draft a document retention policy and how to implement a litigation hold. Standard documents in the toolkit included a retention policy with a checklist of things to do to implement the policy, a document preservation notice, and an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission retention policy to review. Like Law Firm documents, I viewed policies in Word with drafting notes to fashion my own policy.
To get more information, practice notes and other content pages included related content links. I clicked on a document retention toolkit to find both UK and U.S. resources to obtain general and specific document retention requirements. From there I found a practice note on "Drafting a Document Retention Policy" with overall framework documents based on Sedona Guidelines and ARMA International recordkeeping principles.
PLC is licensed to subscribing law firms by the number of practice areas the firm subscribes to and the number of people in the firm that access the material. Subscriptions to law departments, which includes all the practice areas, is determined by the number of people in the department accessing the materials.
PLC has more than 750 employees with operations in London and New York. The company will become part of Thomson Reuter's Legal business when the deal is approved by regulators in the U.S. and UK. In the short term, Guidette said there will be no change in PLC's operations. In the long term, PLC content will appear in Westlaw and Westlaw Next workflow, e.g., you will be able to access PLC content from within Westlaw Drafting Assistant.