When the news broke a few days ago that ALM, formerly American Lawyer Media, was going to put up for sale, reaction from legal information professionals seemed subdued at best. Yet we cannot help but wonder what this means for an industry that is still struggling to find its footing in the wake of one of the worst global economic downturns we have seen in recent generations. Has the independent legal news and analysis been the biggest victim of the ongoing recession?
It was just three years ago that upstart Bloomberg Law rocked the legal information world by acquiring the venerable, and once fiercely independent, BNA. It turns out that this was only the first salvo in the latest battle for industry consolidation. Just a year later, LexisNexis lept into the fray when it bought the attorney-preferred Law360. Neither company was acquired cheaply or quietly. The acquirers proceeded with fanfare and promises not to detract from the reasons people loved their new acquisitions. Legal researchers and consumers, of course, proceeded with caution and concern.
Something feels different this time around, however. Perhaps we can attribute the lack of outcry over the potential sale of ALM to the fact that so many saw this coming. Maybe it really was just a matter of time. Or maybe it is just a matter of waiting to see where the company lands. It could be too that chage has become such a constant in our industry that we have learned, as professionals, to weather the storms that so constantly reshape the legal information landscape. After all, each and every upheaval hides an opportunity to build something bigger and better as soon as the dust settles.
So the waiting game is on. Anyone care to place any bets on where the ball will drop in this latest round of legal publisher roulette?