Recently, I reported here on the “quiet” launch of a new legal research service, Decisis, targeting bar associations and 1-2 lawyer law firms. One interesting aspect of the launch was that nowhere on the company’s website did it mention that it is a subsidiary of RELX, the parent company of LexisNexis.
I now have more information on the launch of the service, based on my interview yesterday with Jeffrey S. Pfeifer, who is chief product officer for LexisNexis in Canada, the U.K. and the U.S., as well as president of the company that created Decisis, Legal InQuery Solutions.
Pfeifer and I met for the interview at the annual meeting of the American Association of Law Libraries in Denver.
By way of recap, in my previous post, I wrote that the launch appeared to be designed to provide bar associations with an alternative to Fastcase, after that company acquired Casemaker in 2021. For years, those two companies had competed to win the business of becoming the preferred member benefit of state and local bar associations.
With the acquisition, Fastcase became the sole legal research provider for the bar associations of all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and four-dozen metropolitan, county and specialty bar associations, for a total number of users of more than 1 million lawyers, out of an estimated 1.3 million lawyers in the country.
Pfeifer confirmed that Decisis is primarily targeted at winning some of this bar association business. He also confirmed that, to date, two bars have signed on with Decisis, the Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA), which began offering it to members last October, and the Nebraska State Bar Association (NSBA), which started with the service on May 2.
Pfeifer said there was no intent to hide the product’s relationship to RELX and LexisNexis. He noted that the OSBA’s announcement that it would offer the service prominently mentioned both RELX and LexisNexis.
At the same time, Pfeifer said, the developers of Decisis wanted to be clear that it is a separate and distinct product, developed independently, with no direct relation to LexisNexis. The product was developed and is being sold and supported by a completely separate team, he said.
“The Lexis brand implies certain technical advantages and feature capabilities. We wanted to be clear that this is not a Lexis product, it’s a standalone product.”
He also said the product was not developed in response to the Fastcase acquisition of Casemaker, but had been in development before that deal took place.
He said that bar associations had reached out to them saying that they wanted an alternative to the legal research products that were available to them. They wanted a product with a significantly simplified user experience but with more robust citator capabilities.
“So we saw an opportunity to build a solution,” he said.
Regarding the citator, it is also completely new and is not based in any way on LexisNexis’s Shepard’s Citations Service, Pfeifer said.
Unlike Shepard’s the citator in Decisis flags only negative treatments of cases.
While the primary market for the service is bar associations, Pfeifer said the company is experimenting with e-commerce sales to 1-2 lawyer firms in states where there is no bar relationship. Lawyers can buy access to the service for a month at a time.
Pfeifer may also experiment with offering versions of the service in other countries.
He described the service as a basic research service with cases, statutes, administrative materials and court rules. He said the exact content will vary by state depending on the preferences of the bar association partners.
It does not contain any editorially created or enhanced content, such as headnotes or case summaries.
“It is a very streamlined product experience intentionally,” he said. “It is meant to be self-trained, so you can intuitively figure out the contents and a user can easily jump in. It looks a lot different than the Lexis product.”