Big changes are coming to the two main services that have ruled the online legal research world. Thomson Reuters Legal introduced a new Westlaw platform called WestlawNext, which aims to simplify and streamline the front-end search experience and to provide superior results using new back-end algorithms. The big news in the new WestlawNext service is that users don't have to select a database to begin a search. Now users can just select a jurisdiction. In other words, you don't have to know where the answer is before looking for it. Meanwhile, Darrell Huntsman, VP of innovation initiatives at LexisNexis, says the new Lexis for Microsoft Office came from its close studies of how lawyers worked. Lexis for Microsoft Office offers a single search box, with results displayed in a window next to the active document.
InformationToday 27 www.infotoday.com March 2010 Legal Research Tools Revamp New Offerings From Westlaw and LexisNexis Debut at Legal Tech B ig changes are coming to the two and Westlaw to hang onto their client main services that have ruled the bases, especially solo practitioners and online legal research world. Thom- lawyers in small firms. son Reuters Legal introduced a new West- law platform called Westlaw- Next, which aims to simplify Rolling Out WestlawNext R E P O RT and streamline the front-end The big news in the new WestlawNext F R O M search experience and to pro- service is that users don’t have to select a T H E vide superior results using new database to begin a search (and Westlaw F I E L D back-end algorithms. has more than 40,000 databases). Now WestlawNext made its debut in early users can just select a jurisdiction. In other February at Legal Tech in New York. [Turn words, you don’t have to know where the to page 42 for more on the New York prod- answer is before looking for it. The home- Michael Hansen, CEO of Elsevier Health Sciences, opened the conference with a keynote about the importance of in- uct premier. —Ed.] Arch competitor Lexis- page is much cleaner, with just a simple novation and invited attendees to take the “brave and bold” road. Photo: Dick Kaser Nexis is also working on a completely search box to perform multiple functions new Lexis that the company says will be (the old Westlaw page was cluttered and that you are giving your customers value, The Only Constant out “later this year,” but at Legal Tech, had multiple search boxes depending on says Mark Anderson, CEO of Strategic it introduced Lexis for Microsoft Office. what you wanted). You don’t need to use News Service. Is Change LexisNexis reports that it enables legal special syntax or Boolean logic (terms Since users have and use a plethora Ken Doctor, who has just published a professionals to access content and serv- and connectors), though you can if you of devices, content portability is essen- book on the news industry called News- ices from LexisNexis and other sources wish. Just type what you want in simple, tial, says Gregory Brown, senior director onomics, offers a few of his new publish- while working directly within Microsoft descriptive terms. As Mike Dahn, vice of strategic development at DataStream ing laws. With the downsizing of the news Office applications. Both companies say president of WestlawNext product devel- Content Solutions. Technology is offering publishing industry, there’s 40% less their respective new products transform opment, says, “Don’t worry. We haven’t users more platform-agnostic content, newsprint and 20% fewer staff from 3 the way legal research is conducted. taken anything away—you told us you contouring data to the devices at hand. years ago. There’s also less capital to didn’t want us to dumb down Technology and innovation are no spend and less local and regional report- your research.” longer limited to users of a younger gen- ing to serve as watchdogs over actions Behind the simpler search eration. Savviness in using technology is and activities on all levels. So be mindful interface is the power of West- crossing generational lines. A case in of Doctor’s Law No. 2: The digital dozen Search. Its algorithms are point is the influx of “more mature” pro- will dominate. Watch the innovations and designed to do the heavy lift- files on Facebook, a service that once was changes from the 12 movers and shakers ing for you. It’s about getting geared to university-only communica- in the industry: ABC, AP, BBC, Bloomberg, users through their research tions. Jumping on the technology band- CBS, CNN, NBC, The New York Times, much faster and with the wagon has an easier entry point today. News Corp., NPR, Thomson Reuters, and confidence that they haven’t When Liberty Carras explained the con- The Washington Post. missed important results. A cept of Twitter to her Uncle Gary, he sim- Robin Neidorf, general manager of search term doesn’t even ply said, “So you’re saying that it’s basi- FreePint, stepped up to the podium with WestlawNext homepage need to appear to be re- cally like shouting into a crowd.” the research results from the “VIP Re- trieved as a relevant result. port: Economic Impact Research,” a sur- Besides dealing with the challenging For example, different states have dif- Welcome to the vey that gathered information on how business climate we’ve been in and see- ferent terms and abbreviations for driv- information suppliers are coping with ing their legal customers struggle
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