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The Immodest Premium for WestlawNext

March 22nd, 2010 · 1 Comment


im·mod·est -adj 1. shameless . . . . -synonyms 2. inflated

Legal bloggers have generally given WestlawNext’s improved search algorithm and user interface high marks. However, they’ve been critical of West’s lack of transparency about pricing and the complexity of its pricing model. To help level the playing field in negotiations between West and its customers, I’ve shared the progress of my upgrade negotiations in a series of posts over the past two months (WestlawNext Preview: Product and Pricing My WestlawNext Upgrade Negotiations: Proof that West Isn’t Interested in the Solo Market, WestlawNext Pricing Information and Reaction from Firm Law Librarians and Westlaw Reps Don’t Know their A$$es From their Elbows When it Comes to WestlawNext Packages and Pricing). Until today, though, I didn’t know what the bottom line would be.

The Bottom Line Analysis

Here’s what my Westlaw plan looked like as of early February (this month, a scheduled price increase brought the total cost up to $514):

Total$489.84
All Cases & Statutes NY Gold w/Regs Plus$301.88
Law Reviews & Journals$ 54.61
Results Plus$133.35

Here is the pricing breakdown for three proposals my Westlaw rep set to me on February 8 (all monthly prices have been adjusted to reflect the 45% discount I would get for being willing to sign a new 3-year contract at this time):

Proposal #1Proposal #2Proposal #3
Total$567.05$777.15$560.45
All Cases & Statutes NY Gold w/Regs Plus$357.50$357.50
All Analytical Library$209.55$209.55
National Secondary Sources - Premium$419.65
All Cases & Statutes$235.95
NY Analytical$114.95

The above proposals don’t include ResultsPlus because West is not offering ResultsPlus in WestlawNext. Furthermore, while the All Analytical and National Secondary Sources – Premium databases contain some useful secondary sources, the vast majority of sources included in ResultsPlus are not included in either All Analytical or National Secondary Sources – Premium.

Comparing my current plan to the WestlawNext proposals revealed that West would be charging an 11% premium for the power to search with the WestlawNext algorithm in the same database (All Cases & Statutes NY Gold with Regs Plus Database). While I believe that West shouldn’t charge its current subscribers anything to “upgrade” to WestlawNext, an 11% increase is in line with the pre-launch prediction offered by Jason Eiseman, Tom Boone, Greg Lambert and Jason Wilson.

On February 11, my rep’s sales manager told me that my rep had “failed to mention” that the pricing in the preceding chart was “introductory pricing” that was valid only until February 28th. So I asked the obvious question: what would the prices for each plan component be as of March 1?

It took more than a month (and quite a few strongly-worded e-mails to both my sales rep and his manager) to get a straight answer to my question. But now that I know, I can’t really blame my rep and his manager for hemming and hawing. Here are the current proposals (again, monthly prices have been adjusted to reflect the 45% 3-year contract discount):

Proposal #1Proposal #2Proposal #3
Total$804.18$1,102.14$758.56
All Cases & Statutes NY Gold w/Regs Plus$507.00$507.00
All Analytical Library$297.18$297.58*
National Secondary Sources - Premium$595.14
All Cases & Statutes$334.62
NY Analytical$126.36

*As in original

Yes, that’s right: West believes that the WestlawNext algorithm is so valuable that its customers will be willing to pay a 68% premium to use it. While I think it generally pays to be an early adopter, this is one price I’m not willing to pay. Are you?

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Tags: Legal Research · Practice Management

1 response so far ↓

  • John L Davidson // // Apr 7, 2010 at 9:54 am

    doesn’t the bar offer fastcase. Through the Missouri Bar we bar $175.00, which includes New York, all other states and federal cases

    However, the better values are Google Scholar and Google Books, which are free. One can do a far better job of researching with the three than one can thru Westlaw

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