Bill Carter, previously senior-VP of Thomson Reuters' small law business unit and an executive at legal research provider LexisNexis, joined ALM as president-CEO in March. He brings a strong background in technology and legal information services to a company looking to diversify its product offerings and strengthen its digital presence.
Carter, who advertised products in ALM publications and partnered with the media company to create custom marketing programs at his previous jobs, said he will approach the job from a customer's perspective.
“I've been in the legal information services space. I have a good picture of where the market is going, where a lot of the other companies in the space are trying to go, so I can help [ALM] get to where they want to be from [a] technology perspective in the next five years,” Carter said.
Carter said he will look to expand ALM's legal research and information product offerings, adding that there is an increasingly blurry distinction between media companies and information providers.
“I don't think any company, at least in this legal information market at this point, positions in one bucket or the other,” Carter said. “We are blending [and] going to be on both sides of that equation as we go forward.”
Carter sees significant growth opportunities in database products. In early April, ALM released Smart Litigator 2.0, an upgraded version of its Smart Litigator (a state-specific legal research tool that provides access to legal resources and original content). The enhanced version, available in New York and New Jersey editions, features a more user-friendly interface, added content and improved navigation. Although he declined to give exact figures, Carter said there has been a noticeable uptick in subscription rates since the introduction.
ALM also plans to release an enhanced version of VerdictSearch, a research tool that includes an expansive verdicts and settlements database as well as original content and trend analysis, in the near future, Carter said.
“We have a lot of content that we generate from our reporters and editors [while] getting our newspapers out,” he said. “If we take that content and actually form a historical database, and start to analyze it, I think there are things we can do on trends and in analysis that would provide a deeper level of insight to our audience.” He added that increased audience engagement will in turn help ALM attract more advertisers.
Carter said he will also focus on strengthening ALM's presence on tablets and mobile devices. According to Carter, ALM's audience of legal professionals, traditionally thought of as slow to adopt new technologies, is moving online faster than previously anticipated and credits the iPad with spurring that transition.
“[The iPad] has taken off so much faster than anybody had imagined; I see now [with] a lot of legal professionals that this is their main way of interacting with all kinds of contents and products that they have in the marketplace,” he said. Carter added that ALM is also starting to optimize its digital content for mobile browsing and is in the early stages of creating a mobile app.