Until the last ten or fifteen years, legal publishing has been the exclusive domain of large traditional publishers.
WestLaw (later Thomson Reuters), Reed Elsevier (owner of LexisNexis), Wolters Kluwer, Bloomberg/BNA, ALM (f/k/a American Lawyer Media) and many others.
In addition to fulltime writers and editors, such publishers considered niche focused contributions from practicing lawyers and academics.
Such contributors did not own their content, the publisher to which the submission was made would own the content – and the content would be available to the contributor by subscription or a pay as a you go for a right to reuse the contribution.
No one really worried that a lot of niches were not covered by the large publishers.
This has all changed with the “direct to consumers economy.”
Armed with a niche, a practicing lawyer, legal academic or other legal professional can publish on their own printing press – a blog. Their writings will be immediately available to consumers of legal information – and consumers of legal services.
Consumers of legal content receive information on niches they’ve never seen from traditional publishers. Traditional publishers have no ability to deliver such information.
More disruptive is that this legal information is available for free.
The astonishing rise of subscription digital media is part of a broader rush toward the reliable, direct-to-consumer economics that has captivated investors. You can now subscribe to huge hits like Disney+ and Peloton as well as niche ventures like high-end dog food and beans.
Mark Zuckerberg called it the “creator economy,” on Monday, with the result being a shift of power from traditional institutions to individuals – and that this trend is a positive trend for the world.
Call it a direct-to-consumers economy or a creator economy. Doesn’t matter.
There is a shift in power from traditional legal publishers to individual legal publishers. And this a positive trend for lawyers, legal academia, the consumers of legal services and the public at large.