Bloomberg Old and New

We gave our Advanced Legal Research class a brief (about 40 minutes) introduction to Bloomberg Law law week.  As soon as we logged on to Bloomberg one student raised her hand and asked, “Why does it look the way it does?”  And as part of an in-class exercise we asked for their impressions of the database, and I have copied some of them below.

Meanwhile our colleague John Palfrey is twittering today about Bloomberg’s new interface. John is at the University of Pennsylvania law school for an academic law librarians conference and Bloomberg presented there, saying it will launch the new BLAW this summer … a “very slick” interface, according to John and “much more so than the big 2″ [i.e., LexisNexis and Westlaw].

John tweets that BLAW will also have “a shared work and presentation environment — a ‘Workbench’ — that would allow collaboration within the BLAW world.”

We at Stanford get to see the new interface next month, and I can’t wait to see it.

And here are some of our students’ impressions of the old (present) Bloomberg:

I thought the comment about how “Retro” (or, to be more honest, how “ugly”) the Bloomberg Terminal interface was lead to an interesting discussion.  I’ve been resistant to learn Bloomberg largely because of how intimidating the interface is.  I think making searches intuitive is a major challenge for a lot of legal research (compare Westlaw/Lexis to, say, Google) and I’m glad people are finally starting to realize that, and improve the interface/search interpretation protocols.

Bloomberg’s interface isn’t lawyer-friendly, but its docket database is fantastic.  The ability to see, on a national map, all of the cases filed against a company on a particular issue and to see the law firms involved is great for lawyers involved in complex litigation.  Looking forward to the web-based interface.

. . . [Bloomberg] does seem to have a variety of information available — I even saw some Above the Law posts listed . . .

Bloomberg is particularly intriguing.  With the current interface I don’t think I could ever actually use it.  The colors and layout were not user-friendly, so I’m glad to hear it is changing.  I also don’t understand the added security measure of a special log-in key [the B Unit].  Nonetheless, the database itself seemed useful, especially for its streamlined news service and inclusion of case filings and court dockets.

Bloomberg, while seemingly requiring considerable background knowledge to operate efficiently, seems to contain a wealth of interesting information.  In particular, I was impressed by the Docket monitors, and how you could see when and where companies were sued, who represented them, etc.

I thought it was interesting that Bloomberg is only now trying to make its interface more legal-user-friendly.  I find it really difficult to look at at the present time. . . .

I didn’t realize how extensive Bloomberg’s court filings and docket database is.  I liked the feature of Bloomberg that allowed us to see a geographical breakdown of where companies are being sued and also a breakdown of what firms were representing them.

As a public interest student, I was shocked to be so impressed with the Bloomberg Law search capabilities.  In particular, the search by company that shows type of litigation both listed and charted, suits by state, and contact info. for parties with all docket info.  This would be very helpful in a public interest setting as well.

Bloomberg actually looks really useful.  I liked the way they organize the news by company and then by topic.  . . . if the case summaries explain the citator symbol (e.g., explaining why the case is no longer good), then Bloomberg would be awesome.

Frankly I was amazed by the sheer range of information available on Bloomberg.  The summaries of news, trends and general developments in litigation are transaction was particularly striking.

It’s interesting that Bloomberg allows you to do keyword searches of multiple dockets.  The colors and layout are rather distracting.

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