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Sometimes, there’s not much that can help the medicine go down, and when there’s not, it becomes clear the rather repugnant taste of it (the medicine). This is a metaphor for the now center-stage discussion taking place regarding the pricing practices of LexisNexis and the cease and desist letter prepared by AALL, which argues that Lexis’s recent tactics breach anti-competitive covenants rendering the new sales practices illegal or at least render the tactics at odds with the AALL Guide to Fair Business Practices for Legal Publishers.

LexisNexis and Westlaw dominate the lion’s share of online research and print platforms for all law firms of all sizes; in fact, most large firms historically adopted a practice of providing both services to its attorneys. Today, less than half of larger firms retain both. Prior to the recession law firms were able to pass-through and recover more than 80 percent of their Lexis and Westlaw costs. However, since the recession, both vendors have been in defense mode. Online cost recovery has dropped to less than 35 percent, and firms have been increasingly realizing retaining both vendors is unnecessary. The evaluation of the sole provider option is not just a viable option for most firms—it is a necessity.

Having discontinued the ideal world of standardized pay-as-you-go retail pricing by 2010, both have been operating in secretive pricing practices and leveraging terms that vary greatly from firm to firm, not the least of which is pricing Am Law and NYC firms disproportionately higher than the rest of the market, albeit ad hoc.

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