Wednesday, November 18, 2009

End of Lexis & WestLaw as We Know it?

Anyone who has taken a Lexis or WestLaw "cost-conscious" course knows that the services are an absolute rip off for clients. Charging $150 to click the search button? Isn't this the information age of technology?

I remember having a conversation with the Lexis rep as a 2L where I pointed out that such monopoly pricing of otherwise public information will not last much longer. A company like Google would one day open the floodgates and we would all be saved. She didn't have a lot to say in response, but neither of us thought the day would come before I entered the working world.

Is the dawn of that new day today? Check out that "company like Google" and what they've released here (and one of the early write-ups about it here).



Blogger Carbolic said...

Unless Google adds headnotes and can shepardize with authority, Lexis/Westlaw don't need to feel threatened.

The truth of the matter is that a $150 search button is a hell of a lot cheaper than having an associate spend an hour reading irrelevant cases.

Besides, Westlaw fees are billed directly to the client.

11/18/2009 11:56 AM  
Blogger Armen said...

Carbolic, most sophisticated clients refuse to pay for legal research services. It ends up being something like a small percentage discount off total legal fees, but still. A lot of these costs are eaten by the firms.

11/18/2009 11:58 AM  
Blogger Toney said...

Carbolic is half right. It'll be the clients that demand the use of free service, thus killing Westlaw and Lexis.

Google's service will eventually include headnots and the equivalent of shepardizin'. That's what they do: organize information. And they bring in so much money in other areas of their business that they can afford to do it even better than lexis and westlaw.

11/18/2009 12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has google ever made editorial additions (like headnotes) before, though?

I always thought they focused on providing access to content rather than creating the content itself.

11/18/2009 12:15 PM  
Blogger Joel said...

why do we need headnotes? if google indexes everything properly then their better search algorithm then you will get good results and not need headnotes, which was a workaround for lack of good search systems in the book age.

11/18/2009 12:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that google will need a shepardize feature before it replaces lexis/westlaw for me. However, that strikes me as exactly the sort of thing google's expertise will be able to generate automatically. Headnotes require actual people, but I can do without them--I almost never find them useful.

11/18/2009 12:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's nothing stopping a researcher from finding cases via Google or some free or inexpensive resource and then Shepardizing or KeyCiting using the respective commercial service. Why the all or nothing view of how research will or ought to be conducted? Headnotes and other editorial added value are useful for some particular functions and approaches to research, not so useful for others. It's easy to hypothesize a tool that "indexes everything properly," but it's also an instance of the hubris of IA. Proper to what?

11/18/2009 5:55 PM  

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