Distilling large amounts of complex information for others has always been part of what lawyers do. But even they need help finding it, which is why providing legal information is such a big part of the legal services business.
Over the last decade, the two main players in this space in Canada, LexisNexis and Thomson Reuters, have done just that, and more, by betting on technology to support lawyers in firms and law departments in applying their legal knowledge.
Now, a new competitor hopes to shake-up the space. Earlier this month, Compass, the new Canadian legal research platform — and new incarnation — of Maritime Law Book, announced that vLex, a Barcelona and Miami-based legal publisher, and California-based Justia were taking a stake in the company.
Compass CEO Colin Lachance (pictured above), who until 2015 headed CanLII, says he’s confident there is room in the Canadian marketplace for the emergence of a new player. “Until now, the prospect of a third competitor in Canada was inconceivable to most practitioners — and to the big two,” he told CBA National. “Our mere presence will drive a competitive reaction that should loosen restrictions and lower prices.”
Lachance says that the partnership with vLex and Justia will provide a foundation for Compass to disrupt a market where innovative start-ups tend to gravitate into the orbits of “the current duopoly” before getting snapped up and absorbed. He calls the need for strong and innovative commercial competition to LexisNexis and Thomson Reuters “pressing.”