Well, I was going to write about this on Monday, as I’d been briefed under an embargo that was to lift then, but Jean O’Grady let the cat — or should I say cheetah — out of the bag in a post at her blog, Dewey B Strategic.

The news is that Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory is rebranding its flagship Cheetah legal research platform on Monday as VitalLaw, a name that Ken Crutchfield, vice president and general manager of legal markets, told me better reflects the mission of the platform and better resonate with with customers. 

As if that were not news enough, WK is also Monday launching a free, public-facing version of VitalLaw that will provide access to some of WK’s current-awareness content that had previously been behind a paywall.

New Primary Source Content

For Cheetah subscribers, the changes will be largely cosmetic for now. They will be able to log in with the same credentials, follow the same workflows and links, and the platform will look much as it did before, but for the rebranding. There will be no changes to customers’ subscriptions.

However, there is one notable addition to the subscription site — a comprehensive collection of primary source content covering all federal and state statutes and regulations.

Until now, the platform included primary source law only to the extent it related to the practice areas WK covers. The new VitalLaw version adds a Laws & Regulations dashboard that users can search or browse.

All of this primary content is organized and presented in a uniform style such that users can also follow a breadcrumb trail to see where they are, and each entry uses the same format to show  provision’s history and how to cite it.

In addition, if changes have been made to a statute or regulation that take effect on a future date, the date is displayed above the current version, and a user can click to see the future version.

This future version is not currently redlined to show the changes, but WK plans to add that in the near future.

In a demonstration earlier this week, Crutchfield and Nicole Stone, director of new product content strategy, said they have an iterative roadmap of plans to further enhance and build out this dashboard. Because it remains somewhat of a work in progress, WK is offering it free to all subscribers on any plan until July 1, 2022.

Free Access to Legal News

The public-facing side of VitalLaw shows current legal news of interest to attorneys and legal professionals. The top story on this page is free for anyone to view, and that free access extends to any primary source materials or hyperlinked materials cited in the story.

In addition, any user gets another three free views per month of “locked” stories, which are displayed with a green padlock icon.

Further, users get free access to any news content that is older than 30 days, with no limits on access to that content.

On each practice-area page of this free site, the top story there is also free for anyone to read. At launch, the site will cover these practice areas: antitrust and competition, banking and consumer finance, COVID-19 resources, healthcare, intellectual property, labor and employment, products liability and insurance, and securities.

To sum that up, visitors to the free site get complimentary access to:

  • The top story on the home page.
  • The top story on each practice area page.
  • Another three stories per month.
  • Any story older than 30 days.

This free site, Crutchfield said, is a way for WK to engage with the broader legal market. He expects it to continue to evolve over the coming months.

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.