Friday, January 29, 2010

New York Times reports on big changes coming to commercial legal research engines

As we previously reported, Monday marks the debut of a purported radically new Westlaw search engine that is designed to appeal to users who expect Google-like simplicity in all the search engines.  Lexis will roll-out a similarly new search engine sometime later this year.  The Legal Blog Watchcalls it the "Perfect Storm" of legal research engines.  Perhaps it's more like a harmonic convergence around the omnipotent Google. 

Even the New York Times is getting in on the act by covering the story here:

Westlaw and LexisNexis, the dominant services in the market for computerized legal research, will undergo sweeping changes in a bid to make it easier and faster for lawyers to find the documents they need.

Lawyers and researchers paying to go online to find court cases and other legal documents should find better-looking interfaces, more relevant search results and new tools for document-sharing and other collaboration.

The changes to the research services are a reaction by Westlaw and LexisNexis to lower-priced — sometimes free — rivals and arrive at a time when law firms are working to cut overhead. The two companies also want to cater to a younger generation of lawyers accustomed to slick Web services and the search interfaces presented by companies like Google and Microsoft.

“I think Westlaw and Lexis have been balancing the needs of an older-generation of lawyers accustomed to using their services with bringing things up to the 21st century,” said Carolyn Elefant, a lawyer who practices in Washington and writes the MyShingle blog. “My guess is that they saw an opportunity to update their platforms with the legal industry in such a state of flux.”

You can read more about these development from the Legal Blog Watch, here, the New York Times, here, and the Law Librarian Blog here and here.

I am the scholarship dude.


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