LexisNexis has teamed with up Newstex to deliver blog content to the legal industry, among other professions.

Blog content is delivered via a product they call ‘Blogs on Demand.’ Presumably, LexisNexis customers pay a fee to get this blog content as well as other news and information.

The number of law blogs included in ‘Blogs on Demand’ is very limited. Per a press release on ‘Blogs on Demand,’ LexisNexis and Newstex ‘hand select’ what they label as premier, expert, and influential blogs in their aggregation of blog content.

In over a year since Nextext has been providing an aggregation of law blogs to LexisNexis, the two companies have determined that only 35 law blogs meet their standards. Maybe there are more, but that’s all Newstex is displaying.

The idea of blogs is to let readers decide what blog content is of value and to consume that content for free on a newsreader – whether the content be individual blogs or keywords/key phrases in blog posts. Picking out 2% of law blogs and saying here, this blog is good enough to read is like throwing up fish to fishermen on the side of a stream who are fishing for a different type of fish.

Understandably, most lawyers don’t understand blog consumption yet. But the answer is not to dummy down blog consumption, something that’s revolutionizing news consumption. The answer is to harness the latest technology and teach lawyers how to use it.

Compare LexisNexis approach to law blogs with that of Justia’s, an innovative start-up, brought to you by the co-founder and former CEO of FindLaw. Justia has identified 1,792 legal blogs in 54 Categories in BlawgSearch their law blog search. Users may then subscribe for free to an individual blog feed or a feed of the category’s blog posts.

To me, Justia’s approach is a look to the future. Free and open consumption of blog content. LexisNexis’ approach to blogs is backwards. Hand selected limited number of blogs, the content of which is packaged for sale to subscribers.

Is the LexisNexis – Newstex way of value to blog publishers and readers? I’d be curious as to your thoughts and the thoughts of LexisNexis and Newstex leaders.

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  • Kevin, it’s less like the fisherman analogy and more like the CBS Movie of the Week competing with NetFlix. Our local paper’s auto classified section has the right idea — the pitch for the section is as follows: next to a photo of, say, a biker-looking dude, is a thought balloon with a picture of a minivan and the catchphrase “only you know what you want.” The internet is about open sourcing and meeting consumer demand. It’s not magazine publishing.

  • You’re right David.
    Publishers like LexisNexis appear pressured to hold onto their only known revenue source – selling aggregated content to us. But that business model is a non sequitur when it comes to blogs.

  • LexisNexis seems to be locked into this old mentality where it has to hold on to its content for dear life or risk extinction. This plays out in its usual service and now this new blog service. The problem is that this practice is not sustainable. Take a look at services like SAFLII.org or AUSTLII.org and see what a free service can do to a paid publishing service. My own Open Law Project (still in infancy) is another project designed to disrupt this business model. The sooner publishers get in on the act the better, before they find themselves rendered obsolete.

  • Kevin, I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment. The Justia model is much more helpful, both for lawyers and those looking for lawyers. Why include just thirty-five law blogs? LexisNexis falls well short in delivering useful content. (No reflection of the blogs included which are some excellent law blogs.) But I will admit that I am a bit puzzeled by Justia’s ranking system. Do you find the ranking system meaningful or useful? Is it based upon Justia readers or some other system?

  • Since I’m the one who contacted Kevin, I’d just like to pipe in briefly. We’re a fairly new company, and it takes a lot of time to sign each blog, so we’re not going to be adding hundreds of blogs at a time. For example, I wrote to Kevin to sign his blog, and he’s now doing research to decide if he wants to sign or not. Each blogger ends up doing research like this, so as you can imagine, that limits how quickly legal blogs can be signed.
    In time, I would hope that Newstex & LexisNexis would be able to deliver a huge variety of legal blogs. Currently, we’re not a very large company, so yes, we’re not able to add blogs as quickly as, say, some blogger who’s just looking around and putting up hyperlinks. We have to contact the blogger, hope the blogger won’t think my email is spam (I’ve been trying to contact Kevin since November, for example, and heard back at the end of April), wait for the blogger to find the time to write back, wait for the blogger to ask many questions, wait for the legal blogger to analyze every word of the contract, and have the blogger sign the contract. I then send the contract to an editor at Newstex, then when it’s approved it will go to a tech person to standardize the RSS feed (nothing is changed, but formatting), then wait for LexisNexis to pick up the new blog in the feed…which they do once a month. So, you can see how that would take a lot more time than simply seeing a good blog and adding a url to your own website.
    I have nothing against anyone who has a list of legal blogs. I’m just letting you know why it’s impossible for a company, that requires a contract be signed, to compete with the speed of listing blogs that a website that doesn’t have to ask for permission does. But hey, if you’d like to help me speed up the process by volunteering to submit your blog and sign the contract, I’m all for that! :)

  • Thanks for your comment Nancy. I guess I understand the business model, that being to sell ‘approved’ legal blog content to lawyers.
    But it seems like an effort in futility. More good legal blogs are being created each week than you could ever approve, contact, get under contract and have LexisNexis assimilate.
    In addition, people subscribe to blog content by selecting the blogs they want to read. That’s an ever changing process of subscribing to new blogs and unsubscribing to others. No reasonable person who understands how to subscribe to blogs is going to wait for LexisNexis to determine what blogs are good enough for lawyers to read and then get an agreement with the blogger so the blogged content can be sold to the reader.
    Nancy, you seem like a great person, but the more I look at the Newstex – LexisNexis delivery/sale of legal blog content model, the less I think of it. Maybe I am missing something?

  • It may seem like an effort in futility, but I think the product has a future. Maybe I need to work 24/7 to get the blogs I need, but I think LexisNexis having blogs is a good idea. Not everyone wants to subscribe to a particular blog’s feed, they may just be doing research on a particular topic. Google’s Blog Search doesn’t have a way to keep the spam out, so scrapers are in there stealing content and reposting sometimes nonsense to make money with AdSense. Through our feeds, no one ever has to worry about spam. The blogs are vetted for quality.
    Also, what does a blogger have to lose by signing up? Their feed is already available to everyone for free, so they may as well sign up and make some money from it. They also might find a different audience who wouldn’t have come across the blog in their regular internet travels. I was talking to a lawyer a few months ago who is a research whiz, but a complete and total internet failure. She’d never been on a message board, ever. Didn’t have any idea what a blog was, except to have vaguely heard the term. All of her research was done directly through her law books and sites like LexisNexis. She wouldn’t have the first clue how to even find a site that had a list of good legal blogs. She’s my age (early 40’s), so there’s no reason she should be so clueless about the internet, but she is. She’s just one part of the market that we’re trying to reach.
    So, if anyone wants to take a chance, a chance that doesn’t cost them anything except a few minutes to sign the contract…I’m ready. (nross AT newstex DOT com) Or, if anyone has any questions that they don’t feel comfortable asking publicly, I’m more than happy to answer them. I’m not here to force anyone to sign, just to give you my opinion about the product.
    I’m a blogger myself, although not a lawyer (but I worked for Jacoby & Meyers as a paralegal, so that has to entertain someone, even briefly – our office did good work though, except for when they gave me the PI case that was a murder…like I’m going to investigate a gang myself. Ha!), so I’m huge blog fan. When I’m not working and reading blogs, I’m relaxing and reading blogs. I will admit that my workday blogs are more “Lessig Blog” and “Crime & Federalism” and my regular reads are more “Cute Overload” and “Deadspin”, but I’ve found quite a few blogs during my work time that have entered my off time. “Future Lawyer” and “TaxGirl” are just two of them.
    I also want to thank Kevin for letting me ramble here. I know that I’m the outsider trying to lure you over to my side, so I appreciate that my opinion gets to be heard. Another thing that I love about blogs – I can go to anyone’s blog, no matter how out of my league they normally might be, and I can talk to them. My very first signed contract was Lawrence Lessig, and I thought he wouldn’t even talk to me, much less sign. It just proves that I didn’t know him, but still…it was a cheery moment that had me calling my parents. :)

  • Kevin, One feature the Newstex/Lexis resource has is the archive. There is no telling how-long Patently-O or “Real Lawyers Have Blogs” will be around. I suspect that once Lexis gets its hands on the blog-posts, it will never let go. That means that five or ten years from now, you will be able to look-up what was said way back when — even if the individual publishers are no longer online.