How did Lexis and WestLaw corner the market on legal information?
April 07, 2009 at 3:13 PM
The blog for the legal research and writing program at Stanford has an article on a new book dealing with anti-trust law called "Free the Market!: Why Only Government Can Keep the Marketplace Competitive". The book details how the legal information market has been adversely monopolized by Lexis and WestLaw and how government intervention could have prevented it.
Here is a quote from this upcoming book regarding legal publishing:
. . . The West-Thomson merger had precisely the effect that everyone, other than Thomson, the Justice Department, and the judge predicted it would. Prices for print publications soared. Thomson started putting fewer pages into each West volume of court cases and charging more for the books. Price increases for West publications following the takeover exceeded both the rate of inflation and the rate of increases for prices in legal publishing more generally. One study documented a price increase of over 70 percent for "value added” legal publications (books with supplements) in the four years following the merger.
Prices for online research also climbed astronomically. Thomson raises rates to private firms each year. In each of the recent years, Thomson’s charges for online legal research in the West databases have increased roughly 7 percent. To search the comprehensive West database for state and federal decisions now costs more than $17 per minute. The federal minimum wage, by constrast, is about $7 an hour. In addition both Thomson and LexisNexis started charging law schools for online legal research, orginally provided free of charge. Last year the annual rate increase to law school librarians was roughly 7%, breaking the budget of many university law libraries.
Monopolizing the law -- From the Advanced Legal Research Instructors at Stanford Law School
Free the market : why only government can keep the marketplace competitive -- Gary L. Reback (via Amazon)
How did Lexis and Westlaw corner the market on legal information -- Law Librarian Blog