Friday, June 7, 2013

Bye Bye Bender Online: LexisNexis Shifting Digital Treatises to Lexis Advance and eBook Platforms

Matthew Bender Online was one of the earliest digital successors to legal treatises on cd-rom. When it was released in the early 1990s, MBOnline offered an elegantly  simple interface and eliminated the technical  idiosyncrasies ( I almost wrote atrocities) of managing networked cd-roms. It allowed lawyers to have digital access to multi-volume treatises. But it was on a separate platform from LexisNexis and could be accessed without having to put in a client number. It could provide lawyers and law firms with a custom library of treatises. But according to Lexis executives, the platform hasn't really evolved in the past 2 decades.

The Letter is in the Mail. Over the coming weeks LexisNexis will begin notifying customers that Bender.com in person or by mail that the product will be phased out by the end of 2014. They stopped selling the product to large law firms 5 years ago. They are planning to help firms transition to the treatise platform on LexisAdvance or the LexisNexis eBooks platform.


According to Karin Lieber,  Vice President Large Law Segment at Lexis Nexis there are several reasons that Lexis Nexis has decided to phase out this product at this time. Bender Online is based on an old "flat file" technology and the product is no longer being enhanced. LexisNexis is focused on enhancing treatise research on Lexis Advance and on their Overdrive eBook platforms. Both platforms will offer enhanced functionality which is not available on the current MBOnline platform..Ebooks are navigable like a book but are also searchable, portable and can allow lawyers to highlight and annotate the book and link to primary sources with a login to LexisNexis.

Shabeer Khan, Director of Information Services at Kaye Scholer has had access to both the Bender.com and LexisNexis eBook library. When I asked him which platform was "better." he responded that the question of "better" doesn't apply. They are "different." and each has it's strength. Khan pointed out that there are advantages to interacting with a the eBook medium because it mimics the look and feel of an actual book. In addition, the Lexis eBook platform with uses the Overdrive system, offers more functionality and works on mobile devices. These features were never available on Bender.com.

What about eLibraries? Karin Lieber, assured me that LexisNexis will continue to support the eLibraries or Custom User Interface (CUI) Libraries which many large law firms have access to through their LexisNexis contract.. eLibraries are custom portal based libraries that allow anonymous authentication within the firm This means that lawyers have unlimited access without having the charge a client. The firms custom interface may provide access to treatises by jurisdiction, topic, or alphabetical list by title. A lawyer can search one title or all titles. Lexis Nexis is committed to supporting this platform for Lexis Nexis subscribers. But they are actively working to transition the elibraries from  Lexis.com to CUI libraries based in the Lexis Advance platform.

Matthew Bender print Not Impacted. Matthew Bender print titles will not be impacted by these developments. Well, that is what they said. I think the truth is that Matthew Bender treatises have already been impacted. Matthew Bender, founded in 1887 was a family owned company and one of the countries largest law book companies. It was sold to the Times Mirror Co. in 1963 and then sold to Lexis Nexis, a subsidiary of Reed Elsevier in 1998. In January 2013 it was reported that the company was laying off over 200 employees at their office in upstate New York. There is no question that law firm economics and advances in technology have in combination accelerated  an unprecedented decline in the demand for print treatises.
More to Come Lexis Nexis will be announcing a new set of eBook enhancements in July at the AALL conference.



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