Real World Windows Azure: Interview with Marc Slovak and Manish Bhargava at LexisNexis

As part of the Real World Windows Azure customer interview series, I talked to Marc Slovak, Vice President Product Technology, and Manish Bhargava, Product Manager, at LexisNexis about their new offerings on Windows Azure Marketplace. Here’s what they had to say:

Himanshu Kumar Singh:  Tell me about LexisNexis.

Marc Slovak: LexisNexis is a leading global provider of content-enabled workflow solutions designed specifically for professionals in the legal, risk management, corporate, government, law enforcement, accounting, and academic markets. We serve customers in more than 100 countries with more than 15,000 employees worldwide with access to billions of searchable documents and records from more than 45,000 legal, news and business sources.

HKS: What is Lawyers.com?

Manish Bhargava: Lawyers.com is a free service from LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell designed specifically for individuals and small businesses.  Lawyers.com provides a variety of services:

  • Accurate and reliable profiles of over one million lawyers and firms worldwide
  • A wealth of information that helps users better understand the law, make more informed personal legal choices and identify high quality legal representation
  • Helpful tips on selecting an attorney, preparing to meet with an attorney and working with an attorney
  • An interactive discussion community of individuals and lawyers covering hundreds of legal topics
  • Consumer friendly explanations of major areas of law, articles on current legal topics, links to legal resources on the web, a glossary of 10,000 legal terms, and more

HKS:  What’s the issue you’ve had to address?

MB:  Lawyers.com has more than 3,000 consumer-facing legal articles authored by lawyers themselves, with more added daily. These articles are written in a manner that’s authoritative and informative, yet easy enough for a non-lawyer to understand. Articles pertain to sought-after areas of practice, including child custody, divorce, immigration, bankruptcy, employment and so on. We get over two million visitors every month looking for legal information.

All this is great. The problem is that these valuable articles are housed within lawyers.com, which means consumers and small business users have to somehow find these articles and read them on lawyers.com. This requires us to do a damn good job on search engine optimization (SEO).  We thought, what if we also allow external clients to take these articles and host it on their websites via web services? This would increase ‘eyeballs’ on our content. To do this we either needed to build our own API layer, which is a big investment and an area with which we are not yet comfortable, or use Windows Azure Marketplace to host our dataset. It was a no-brainer for us to choose to go the Microsoft route.

HKS:  Tell us about your offerings on Windows Azure Marketplace.

MB: The Lawyers.com consumer legal articles dataset allows you to search for articles based on area of law. For each article result, you get access to the title, excerpt and a link back to Lawyers.com page where your end consumers can get more details. We have built a sample application that uses the Microsoft’s OData API layer, which gives you access to our dataset. Here you’re able to specify an area of law and find all related articles available in the offering. You can also download the code, which will enable you to quickly leverage it in your website. In the future, we have plans on building a javascript widget, which will allow you to quickly integrate the consumer articles into your website by simply dropping in couple of lines of code. Details of future releases related to LexisNexis APIs and Widget can be found here.

HKS: Your other offering is for the LexisNexis Communities. What are they?

MS: The LexisNexis Communities are places where tens of thousands of legal professionals explore the latest legal trends, information, and resources available for FREE. Our online content includes blog posts (written by prominent legal professionals), podcasts, video, commentary and the latest news on emerging issues and top cases in sixteen practice areas including Bankruptcy Law, Insurance Law, Patents and Trademarks, Environmental Law, and Real Estate Law to name a few. Our most recently released community addresses Immigration Law. In addition to our practice area communities we have professional communities that provide resources and support to librarians, paralegals, new associates and government information workers.

HKS: Why are you making this content available on Windows Azure Marketplace?

MS: Many of our members have asked about reproducing our content on their intranets or their public facing websites. We made the decision to make our blog posts and podcasts available through the Windows Azure Marketplace to satisfy this need. Windows Azure Marketplace provides a variety of tools and resources to access and use our content in a variety of ways.

HKS: Is there a sample application similar to the one Manish described for Lawyers.com?

MS: Absolutely. Since the content we are providing is not tabular data we felt that it was important to illustrate techniques for accessing and using the content. The idea behind our sample site is to provide a use case and the sample code used to create the site. There are some differences between this site and the Lawyers.com implementation so the two examples taken together illustrate a substantial amount of functionality derived through the OData API layer.

Learn more about the Lawyers.com Consumer Legal Articles data on the Windows Azure Marketplace

Learn more about the LexisNexis Legal Communities data on the Windows Azure Marketplace.

Read more Windows Azure customer success stories.