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Practical Law

Practical Law

Practical Law is a legal solution from Thomson Reuters. It provides uniquely practical online know how resources, including practice notes, precedent templates and checklists, to help lawyers work smarter and advise with confidence.

Practical Law know how is created and kept up to date by a team of 300 lawyer-editors, who have significant practice experience at the world's leading law firms, companies and organisations.

More than 100,000 legal professionals around the world use Practical Law to give them a quality-assured head-start and work more efficiently.

Services cover key practice areas:

Arbitration, Commercial, Competition, Construction, Corporate, Dispute Resolution, EU Law, Employment, Environment, EU, Family, Finance, Financial Services, IPIT, Media & Telecoms, Pensions, Private Client, Property, Public Sector Law, Restructuring & Insolvency, Share Schemes & Incentives.

In the UK, Practical Law also provides collections of resources for in-house lawyers, company secretaries and charity lawyers.

Lawyers working internationally can also subscribe to Practical Law US and Practical Law China, and access a suite of multi-jurisdictional guides.

At the heart of practice

The Practical Law team is in continual dialogue with more than 5,000 law firms and legal departments worldwide through their "Ask" Legal Query service and consultation boards and their management of legal networks such as the Association of General Counsel and Company Secretaries of the FTSE 100. A very strong relationship with subscribers helps them to ensure that the materials provided remain current and fit for purpose.

Practical approach

In their own words: "Practical law doesn't just mean quality resources. It also means easy-to-find and use. Our online services are developed to high usability standards and our know-how is written in plain English. And we won't just give you a password to our site and disappear. Our experts are available to expand on resources, point you to useful material or act as a sounding board on a tricky point. We handle thousands of subscriber queries each year; almost all are answered the day they're received."

You can find more information about Practical Law here, or telephone +44 (0)20 7202 1220 or email info.practicallaw@thomsonreuters.com.


Interview: In mid 2013 I asked Paul Sandell of Thomson Reuters a number of questions about the newly acquired Practical Law Company (PLC).

Delia. Thomson Reuters purchased Practical Law recently - what is actually happening?

Paul. Thomson Reuters acquired Practical Law Company (UK and US) in January 2013. In the UK, we received clearance from the Office of Fair Trading on 28 March which enabled us to start the process of combining Practical Law UK with the existing UK & Ireland Legal Solutions business of Thomson Reuters. The acquisition effectively brings Practical Law's market-leading know-how together with best-in-breed books and looseleafs from Sweet & Maxwell (e.g. Chitty on Contracts, The White Book, Archbold on Criminal Law and many others) and highly-regarded online databases Westlaw UK and Lawtel.

Delia. How does this new service fit in with Lawtel and with Westlaw UK? As a supplement or a rival?

Paul. As for all other practice areas, the know-how resources which comprise Practical Law's new Family service are complementary to the primary sources and commentary in Lawtel and Westlaw UK. Practical Law provides lawyers with the tools they need to work efficiently and effectively, including standard documents and clauses with drafting notes, practice notes with clear explanations of how the law is applied in practice and regular legal updates (by e-mail or online) highlighting developments in law, regulation and practice.

For times when lawyers need to research something in more depth, they can link through from references to legislative provisions or judgments in Practical Law's resources to see the full text of the statute, statutory instrument or case report on Westlaw UK.

Delia. Is it primarily a case reporter or a precedent builder, or something else?

Paul. The core parts of Practical Law's Family service include:

  • A full range of practice notes, giving know-how and guidance on a wide range of family law topics, including nuptial agreements and relationship planning, cohabitation, family ADR, divorce, financial remedies, children and domestic violence.
  • Standard templates for family law documents including a fully interactive Financial Form E, a prenuptial agreement, a cohabitation agreement, financial consent orders and court forms.
  • E-mail updates compiled by our lawyers with analysis and commentary on new developments in family law.

    Delia. What does the service offer which is not offered by the several (largely?) free services in family law e.g. from Bath Publishing and Jordans?

    Paul. Practical Law's Family service has been created, and will be maintained, by a team of solicitors with a wealth of experience gained from private practice. The material prepared by our team has been augmented by contributions from nearly 90 contributors from leading sets of family barristers and quality law firms. These include four Heads of Chambers and numerous other experts known for their expertise on specialist areas including Fiona Hay at Harcourt Chambers who has written about pensions, Andrezej Bojarski who has written about trusts and Janet Bazley QC who has written about relocation of children. The team can also draw upon the wide expertise of the editors in the other Practical Law services including Dispute Resolution, Private Client, Property and Pensions. The service also benefits from a Consultation Board made up of some very eminent individuals in the field of family law comprising three judges, four barristers and six solicitors. Practical Law's Family service comprises around 950 resources of which around 850 are entirely new. These resources include practice notes, standard documents (including letters and clauses) and editable court forms. All of these resources will be continually maintained and do not link to underlying textbooks that are maintained less frequently. The detailed linking to other Practical Law Materials and primary sources saves time and is easy to navigate.

    Highlights of the service include:

  • a comprehensive standard precedent for a pre-nuptial agreement, prepared in collaboration with an expert advisory panel;
  • a comprehensive cohabitation agreement prepared in collaboration with a very senior QC;
  • a "shell" financial consent order with 90 plug-in standard clauses;
  • an interactive Form E financial statement which incorporates drafting notes and allows clients and third parties to add in information. This Form E tool is included in the service at no extra cost; and
  • a weekly current awareness email update

    Delia. Is there a part of your service which is free?

    Paul. No, Practical Law is a subscription service. Unlike certain free to view resources, our practice notes, standard documents and interactive forms are all continually maintained to take account of developments in law, regulation or practice. Our subscribers know our resources are up to date and trust us to get it right. Our reputation for quality and currency has been hard won over many years and is one in which we take great pride. Our current awareness is prepared by experienced lawyers who filter out only those developments which will really make a difference to lawyers in practice and we ensure that our resources reflect current practice through our regular contact with leading practitioners and advice from our Consultation Board.

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    Comments or queries? email delia@venables.co.uk

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