There are thousands of law firms in the world and many differences between them. However, there is something that unites them all ”” publications and client updates. These publications market a firm’s expertise and knowledge to clients and potential clients. In pre-internet days, these were all hardcopy publications but the internet has changed all this. Firms saw the value of delivering these publications to clients electronically and/or posting this material on their websites.
Today, whether you are on the website of a UK magic circle firm, such as Clifford Chance or Linklaters, or the site of a small boutique practice, such as Onside Law or David Price Solicitors & Advocate, you will find legal publications and updates.
The question then becomes, how, with so much potential “free” know-how out there, do you locate and find the material that could be of use to you?
Aggregation, aggregation, aggregation
Whilst you can visit the sites of law firms and sign up to their updates, this means you are limited to those firms you know, and it could also mean you miss something that would otherwise have been of interest. Thankfully, a number of companies now do the hard job of aggregating the content for you, allowing you to search by firm, legal topic/sector, jurisdiction and keyword.
These services also offer “added value” services such as access to reporting and marketing data analysis. The services allow law firms whose content is accessed to see not only how many people are reading their articles but also if the “right” people are reading them. They can see if their target audience is reading their content and what the hot topics are and they can identify potential clients.
What follows is a brief look at three main players currently in the market: Mondaq, Lexology, and Linex Legal. Whilst not the only services in the market, they are the services with the broadest coverage.
Coverage: Law firms: 600; Jurisdictions: 136
Access: Open to anyone
Cost: Signing up for access to read the articles is free. Law firms who want their content included in the service are charged a per article charge for inclusion. Costs for the added value services begin at £2,500.
Mondaq was launched in 1994 and does not limit itself to law firm publications but also republishes content from the banking and accountancy sectors, as well as economic advisers.
Unlike Linex and Lexology, Mondaq’s goal is to push the content into as many places as a potential user might search for it; so not only is all their content available via the Mondaq site, but it is also indexed by all the major search engines, and is available via around 7,000 other websites and services including Factiva, LexisNexis, Datastar, Westlaw, Bloomberg, Profound, Google News, and Yahoo News.
Mondaq extract articles from their original source and display them on the Mondaq site. Each article appears on a page with the firm’s branding and includes links to the firm’s website, a link to all the articles published by the firm on the site and a link to the Chambers Legal Directory listing for the firm. Every article can be ranked by readers on a 1 to 6 scale of usefulness (6 being very useful) and every article includes links to “related” articles.
By registering with the site you can sign up for a weekly email update covering the jurisdictions and legal topics that are of interest. You can also choose RSS feeds as your preferred delivery format. The weekly email displays a list of the articles published in the last week and the firms who wrote them. The Mondaq database currently has over 40,000 articles indexed and searchable via the site’s custom Google search.
From a business development point of view, Mondaq offers real time analysis of who is looking at the articles, such as how many people view an article, who they are, who they work for, if they printed off the article and if they forwarded it to someone else. They can also tell what search terms were used to bring back any article, either via their site, other sites, or via search engines (such as Google). They also offer intranet/internet content integration, allowing any website to link to Mondaq content for free.
Over the next 12 months Mondaq plans to introduce personalised profiles and to add a comment facility to each article in addition to the current ranking functionality.
Coverage: Law firms: 266; jurisdictions: 124
Access: Open to anyone
Cost: Signing up for access to read articles is free. Law firms who want their content included pay an annual fee for inclusion in the service. Costs for this and for the added value services begin at £2,500.
Lexology is the newest service on the market, but comes from Globe Business Publishing Limited who also publish International Law Office. It is published in co-operation with the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), with whom they produce a daily newsfeed which goes to all ACC members.
Lexology extract articles from their original source and display them on the Lexology site. Each article lists the author and law firm and contains a link at the top and bottom of the article to the original source document on the originating firm’s website. Clicking on the law firm takes you to a directory showing the firm’s contact details and offices and links to all articles by the firm available on Lexology.
By registering with the site you can sign up for a daily email update covering the jurisdictions and legal topics that are of interest to you. The email displays a complete list of the latest updates published in the last day, which is also accessible on the website via a “my account” link. The email also includes a list of contents and a full list of “today’s contributors”. An RSS feed is available on request.
The Lexology database currently has over 45,000 articles indexed and searchable via the site’s custom Google search.
From a business development point of view, Lexology offer data analysis and reports covering who is looking at the articles, how many people are viewing an article, average hits per article, who they work for and what their role is. They also offer tailored intranet feeds/integration, such as the solution developed for the ACC which can display a firm’s own content or content of their own choosing limited by jurisdiction and topic.
Planned enhancements include the introduction of legal blog content to the site, links to related articles, RSS feeds and links to author profiles on the source law firm website.
Coverage: Law firms: 646; jurisdictions: 87
Access: Law firms, in-house council, other business professionals. Aim is not to gain widest possible audience but to offer high quality paid bespoke services to business professionals.
Cost: Signing up for access to read the articles is free. Law firms who want their content included in the email updates can pay a small fee to ensure inclusion (quality of the article permitting). Costs for the added value services begin at £3,000.
Linex Legal (previously known as LegalWebWatch) was set up in 2002 and is specifically targeted at legal and business professionals. Unlike Lexology and Mondaq, Linex Legal do not host any articles themselves. They display the title and a brief summary and then link out to original source documents, the logic being not to deprive the originating site of the site hit.
By registering with the site you can sign up for a weekly email (or RSS feed) update covering the jurisdictions and legal topics that are of interest to you. The email displays a selection of the latest updates published in the last week, with the full list accessible via the website. The email also includes a link to the RSS feed of your update, a list of the five most popular law firms that week and a list of forthcoming events. There is also a “My Linex” page, providing a snapshot of your account, listing most popular articles, recent press releases and forthcoming events.
The Linex database currently has around 30,000 articles indexed and searchable via the site’s custom search.
From a business development point of view, Linex Legal produces reports showing a firm’s rank by jurisdiction and topic based on the number of hits via the site, emails and RSS. Reports also show how many people are viewing an article, who they are and who they work for. Linex also have their own Law Firm Directory, listing offices, most recent articles, most popular articles and recent press releases.
Planned enhancements for the next 12 months include adding “Author” pages, including biographies of the authors and listing their most recent/most popular articles, and increasing personalisation options. They are also looking at how selected blog content could be tied into their current platform.
From an end user perspective ”” someone looking to keep up to date with relevant legal developments ”” all three services offer easy-to-use and effective services. The decision on which one(s) to use will probably depend on how you want to access that information and the frequency of the updates. For those looking to take advantage of the usage data offered by the services, I would recommend trialling all three before making a decision on which best fits your needs.
Thanks to Rebecca Gebhardt (Linex Legal), Mark Lamb and Andrew Teague (Lexology) and Charles Aspinwall (Mondaq) for kindly sparing the time to answer questions as part of background for this article. Any errors of fact, however, remain my own.
Scott Vine is Senior Information Officer, Communications, Media and Technology Group Clifford Chance LLP.