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Thomson Reuters celebrates 150 years: CJ Lechtenberg on customer empathy


Thomson Reuters commemorates 150 years of customer partnership and innovation to honor the 1872 founding of John B. West Publisher and Book Seller. West’s spirit of innovation lives on in Westlaw – a product that still bears his name – and in the AI-powered products and legal research technology tools used by legal professionals worldwide.

Our Legal Current series features voices across Thomson Reuters sharing how West’s legacy of client partnership and innovation lives on today. Today we hear from CJ Lechtenberg, Senior Director of Product Management, Westlaw, who worked at Thomson Reuters for 22 years.

“Many opportunities to seize”

Lechtenberg recalled her first experience of legal research as a law student.

“When I went to law school, there was no Westlaw.com,” she said. “I started researching books, then I was able to use Westlaw after installing the application on my desktop with a CD-ROM.”

At the time, she said it was unimaginable that she would be working at Thomson Reuters 10 years from now, helping to develop WestSearch.

“It absolutely revolutionized legal research,” Lechtenberg said. “And eight years later, I never thought I would lead the team that developed Quick Check, which analyzes legal documents and, without further client intervention, provides highly relevant recommendations. Even with all this innovation, legal research remains incredibly challenging and there are plenty of opportunities to be had. »

“We’ve been where they are”

She said “humanity, empathy and creativity” best characterize her time at Thomson Reuters.

“The human element is absolutely central to everything we do,” she said. “When we think about what we want to do next, the first fundamental questions are: what do our customers need? What are they struggling with? How can we help them?”

Lechtenberg said empathy comes from all Thomson Reuters lawyers who work for and with lawyers and legal professionals.

“We’ve been where they are,” she explained. “We spent hours looking for the perfect case. Or filing a brief and being completely anxious hoping we didn’t miss anything. We can understand all the frustration and jubilation that our customers experience every day. It provides a level of trust and connection with our customers.

She added: “We are constantly solving creative problems to propel our clients further, whether it’s using new technologies to deliver more accurate and relevant results faster or helping to answer to a research question when they call referral lawyers.”

“None of this is lost on us”

Lechtenberg noted that this customer commitment goes back more than a century.

“When you think about how the legal research process has changed over the past 150 years, it’s mind-boggling how we’ve gone from printed case law and John B. West’s categorizations of these cases, to crowds from lawyer editors categorizing case law, to scientific research using these editorial improvements as the basis for our innovative artificial intelligence,” she said.

Of course, the way lawyers conduct their legal research has changed dramatically.

“But what doesn’t has changed is that lawyers are under immense pressure to find documents that will help them better represent their clients,” Lechtenberg said. “And they continue to have only a limited number of hours a day to conduct this research. Being a lawyer is hard and complex work, often with significant, life-changing results. None of that is lost. for us.

She added: “We have never lost sight of the importance of our customers in all aspects of our development. This sometimes means anticipating customer needs before they are articulated.

“Did we all know we needed cell phones in 1980?” asked Lechtenberg. “No of course not. But now we would all be completely lost without them. By nurturing close relationships with our customers, we learn what is difficult and frustrating for them. And we can leverage those learnings and turn them into new innovations that solve their frustrations – with products that do the things they can’t, and free them to do the things they can’t. only they can.”


Like his colleague Jon Meyer, Lechtenberg said the launch of WestlawNext in 2010 stood out during his tenure at Thomson Reuters.

“It’s so memorable because how we built WestlawNext really set the stage for how we do development now,” she explained. “It was the first major effort and shift to agile development. We co-located our product management, application development, testing, and user experience teams and spent more than four years working on it. C It was intense and stressful at times, but so rewarding. And it has served as the award-winning foundation for every major development since its launch in 2010. That’s what’s so remarkable about Thomson Reuters: our innovations can almost always be used for something even bigger and better in the future.

Lechtenberg said that was true with the recent deployment of Westlaw Precision.

“Building on the excellence of Westlaw Edge, we’ve taken legal research to the next level by giving researchers the ability to research the precise concepts they need in the context they need,” he said. she declared. “This new platform will help researchers be more than twice as fast as they are now and help them find materials they wouldn’t otherwise find.”

It recognizes the impact customers have had on product development efforts over the decades.

“Without our customers, we can make assumptions about what may be useful or successful, but our customers provide the definitive data that tells us the truth,” she said. “By staying customer-obsessed, we stay in touch with our customers and drive the market forward.”

Read more perspectives on Thomson Reuters’ legacy and watch Legal Current for more stories in the weeks to come.