AALL Program Review: The New Generation of Legal Research Databases: Eighteen Months Later

By Mary Jo Lazun
Head of Electronic Services
Maryland State Law Library

When this program was accepted for the Annual Meeting, the panel was hoping to present a comparison of WestlawNext and Lexis Advance.  Since Lexis Advance has not been released, the panel presented the results of a survey of law librarians about WestlawNext with commentary from the panelists.

  •  More law firms than law school libraries are using WestlawNext. Very few corporate, government, or courts libraries are using WestlawNext.
  •  Most firms did see increased costs in using WestlawNext, but some saw a price decrease. Overall the pricing model seems simpler to understand.
  •  WestlawNext searchers liked:

Ease of use
Federated search
Folder and folder sharing
Faceted and aggregated results that show new material
Librarians liked that searchers saw not only primary sources but valuable secondary sources.

  • WestlawNext searchers disliked:

Oversimplification of research
Lack of precision
Unclear, inconsistent search algorithm
Exclusion of some Westlaw materials
Difficulty knowing what content is (and is not) included
Difficulty constructing Boolean searches
Difficulty constructing narrow issue searches
Unavailability of field searching
Tendency to get too many search results

A podcast of the presentation and handouts are available to AALL members at: www.softconference.com/aall/sessionDetail.asp?SID=250810

Program Coordinator:
Caren Biberman, Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP

Victoria J. Szymczak, Brooklyn Law School Library

Lisa A. Spar, Hofstra University Law School Library
Jean P. O’Grady, DLA Piper
Denise A. Pagh, Kronick, Moskovitz, Tiedemann & Girard