I noted last week that legal publisher ALM — parent to Law.com, The American Lawyer, The National Law Journal, Law Technology News, and other national and regional publications — had announced that it would begin offering free digital memberships, effective Aug. 23. The free memberships would provide “bundled benefits” that would include digital access to five news articles every 30 days from ALM publications and discounts on ALM products and services.

“The announcement leaves me confused about what will be free and what will not,” I wrote then, “and it does not even mention access to archived stories, so we will need to stay tuned and see what happens on Aug. 23.”

Well, now that Aug. 23 has come and gone, I had an opportunity to get more details about the new digital memberships in a phone call today with two of ALM’s senior vice presidents, Lenny Izzo, SVP and chief marketing officer, and Jeffrey Litvak, SVP and chief digital officer.

Now, in most cases when you click on a link to read an article, you are immediately prompted to register for a digital membership. ALM makes it easy to do by allowing you to sign in via your LinkedIn account. If you prefer to register, you need answer only a few brief questions.

If you do not register, then you are severely limited in what you can access on any of the ALM sites. If you do register, then you get access to five free articles every 30 days. Overall, the scope of access is actually broader than it was before, in that ALM is now putting most articles outside the paywall (but within the five-article limit). In the past, some 70-80 percent of the articles were behind paywalls; now, all but premium content will be outside the paywall.

Before making this change, Izzo and Litvak say, ALM studied readership habits and found that 90 percent of its readers looked at fewer than six articles in any 30-day period. Thus, they say, the five-article cap will not limit the reading habits of most users.

Here are some other key points about the new plan:

  • Links can be shared. If you forward an article to a colleague by email, the colleague will be able to read it without registering or even being prompted to register. This is an improvement over the past, where the recipient of a shared article often found it to be locked behind the paywall.
  • Social media links don’t count against the quota. If you follow a link to an ALM article from a social media site such as Twitter or Facebook, the article you read does not count against your five-article limit.
  • Law Technology News and Corporate Counsel are not capped. Once you register for the digital membership for either of these publications, you get full access; you are not capped at five articles.
  • There is no change in access to archives. As before, ALM publications offer access to only six months of archives. Access to older articles is available only through Lexis.

ALM has also made changes to its paid subscription structure. Previously, each of its 14 paid publications had its own subscription structure. Now, the prices have been streamlined into four tiers, each of which has a digital-plus-print and a digital-only price per month:

  • $36.99 for digital and print and $29.99 for digital for premium daily publications including The New York Law Journal and The Legal Intelligencer.
  • $34.99 for digital plus print and $29.99 for digital only for The American Lawyer and The National Law Journal.
  • $29.99 for digital plus print and $24.99 for digital for publications such as The Recorder in San Franciso and the Daily Business Review in Florida.
  • $24.99 for digital and print and $19.99 for digital only for publications such as The Connecticut Law Tribute and Texas Lawyer.

Paid subscribers to any any one publication are able to purchase subscriptions to other publications at discounted rates.

Photo of Bob Ambrogi Bob Ambrogi

Bob is a lawyer, veteran legal journalist, and award-winning blogger and podcaster. In 2011, he was named to the inaugural Fastcase 50, honoring “the law’s smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries and leaders.” Earlier in his career, he was editor-in-chief of several legal publications, including The National Law Journal, and editorial director of ALM’s Litigation Services Division.