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Thomson Reuters buys PLC

Thomson Reuters yesterday announced it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Practical Law Company, the London-based provider of practical legal know-how and workflow tools to law firms and corporate law departments. Practical Law Company has more than 750 employees, with principal operations in London and New York, and will be part of the Legal business of Thomson Reuters. The acquisition is subject to regulatory approval and customary closing conditions, and is expected to close in the first quarter of 2013. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Practical Law Company, with its wide range of expert-authored, up-to-date practical legal resources and software tools, is seen as a powerful complement to the Thomson Reuters portfolio of respected legal software and information products including Westlaw, which offers the broadest and most comprehensive collection of primary and analytical content for legal professionals.

Commenting on today’s announcement, James C. Smith, chief executive officer of Thomson Reuters, said, “Practical Law Company will uniquely position Thomson Reuters to deliver a comprehensive suite of compelling productivity solutions that marry world-class legal information, expert know-how resources and software tools to help in-house lawyers and outside counsel respond to client demands to work faster and smarter.”

“The combination of Practical Law Company and Thomson Reuters will create unique capabilities for a legal market segment that has seen significant changes over the past several years,” continued Mr. Smith. “Quality and effectiveness have always been key to successful law firms and corporate legal departments. Efficiency has become equally critical. Together, we’ll provide a full range of resources and tools to help our customers deliver the best advice quickly and efficiently, keep on top of regulatory and market developments, and better control costs.”

Robert Dow, Practical Law Company chairman and co-founder, said that this collection of expert know-how, which is updated continuously to reflect changes in law and practice, is highly respected and valued in the legal marketplace. With more than 100,000 lawyers worldwide accessing their materials, Practical Law Company’s subscribers include 96% of the top 200 UK law firms and 86% of UK FTSE 100 corporate legal departments, as well as 80% of the AmLaw 200 firms and more than 700 corporate legal departments in the U.S.  “We share many values with Thomson Reuters, most notably a passion for innovation in the legal marketplace and for providing lawyers with the best possible resources so that they can spend more time adding value to clients and less time reinventing the wheel,” Mr. Dow
said. “We also share a commitment to helping our customers evolve to meet changing demands. We are delighted to be joining Thomson Reuters, and firmly believe that together we can create an integrated solution that changes how lawyers practice.”

COMMENT: Good news for Thomson Reuters. Good news for PLC. But bad news for LexisNexis? Why? Because it was only last summer that the company launched its LexisPSL service, its attempt to take on PLC in the packaged know-how sector. Until then (according to PLC director Jeremy Tobias-Tarsh, quoted in Legal IT Insider in September 2012) PLC was happy to co-exist with LexisNexis, leaving LN to legal content while PLC focused on its core KM business. However following the launch of LexisPSL, PLC decided it too would deliver legal content and began working more closely with Westlaw (part of Thomson Reuters). So, did LexisNexis stir up a hornets nest which ultimatey resulted in the impressive combination of Thomson Reuters and PLC?

5 replies on “Thomson Reuters buys PLC”

Great commentary and in some way a great defensive play from TR and probably a great time to sell by PLC.

I assume the question is where does this leave law firms and ultimately clients? Did they both just loose a price negotiation point?

I think given the level of investment LexisNexis have made in their PSL services they were always less likely to be a bidder for PLC. Will be interesting to see if the new combination can maintain the growth momentum enjoyed by PLC in the US and succeed in taking the model to other jurisdictions.

Having just come back from the Thomson Reuters ‘mothership’ HQ in Eagan, it is clear that with or without PLC, the company has plans to dominate the legal information market – by making it less necessary to use other info providers, including LexisNexis and, in the US at least, ALM – CC

Love to see some empirical work on how subscribing to these publishers attracts clients vs contributing to the trade press. What is going to become of the business model when an economic upturn soaks up all the under-employed lawyers writing for nothing? A good time to sell indeed.

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