January 26, 2010
On "WestSearch" from Bob Ambrogi's First Look at WestlawNext
Bob Ambrogi offers his first take on WestlawNext. Snips from his comments on the new SE, called "WestSearch," under my headings, are highlighted below. Do check out Bob's blog post for more details on the new search engine and WestlawNext generally.
"WestSearch," a Metadata Driven SE (As Expected)
WestlawNext completely changes the search interface and the search engine behind it. In fact, the change is so dramatic that West has given its new search engine its own name: WestSearch. This new search engine does not just look at the terms you enter, a West executive said. Rather, it tries to identify the issue of law based on the terms you searched.
Database Selection No Longer Required But Remains an Option (Good Move)
The most striking change from the former Westlaw to WestlawNext is the disappearance of the database directories. No longer need you select a specific database to search. Instead, the front page of WestlawNext is Zen-like in its sparsity – or, I should say, Google-like. Atop the page is a search bar which invites you to "enter search terms, citations, databases, anything."
Boolean or Natural Language Searching with Search Result Filter Options by Forms of Literature (Great for Boolean Diehards)
Your search – Boolean or natural language – will run across everything in the Westlaw database and return a page showing an overview of the most relevant results from each group – cases, statutes, secondary sources, briefs, whatever. If that sounds daunting, it isn't. On the left of the screen is a menu for refining the search by group. Click to see only caselaw that matches your search or only statutes or whichever. After you select one of these filters – say, cases – a new submenu appears allowing you to further filter the results by any number of parameters, including court, judge, party, topic and Key Number.
Does sound intriguing, doesn't it. While designed with the "Google generation" in mind, it looks like West has not fallen into the "make it Google-like" trap for the professional researcher using a very expensive legal search service. Hope so.
As reported earlier, WestlawNext apparently will be offered as an "upgrade." Not known yet is how much that upgrade will cost. No doubt that will be "subject to negotiation." I really don't expect West to be running a legacy Westlaw long-term.
I remain very interested in how WestlawNext displays secondary literature in a systematic, that is to say, usable way as in not parsed into itty-bitty segments without a readily accessible comprehensive overview and navigation path for the entire work from within the search output. [JH]
I am wondering how this type of set-up that basically searches all WL databases will play out re/resources that are outside of a firm's flat-rate contract-search is free but then retrieval of results will cost??
Posted by: Cheryl Niemeier | Jan 27, 2010 6:58:48 AM