Sunday, March 21, 2010

What's the best online research engine outside Wexis?

According to the 3 Geeks and a Law Blog, Casemaker is the best research engine for state law among the second-tier contenders which also includes Fastcase, Loislaw and Google Scholar

When I started this project, I assumed that Loislaw would be the hands down winner.  After all, they have the huge backing of Wolters Kluwer for a few years now, and you'd hope that they'd want to compete with Westlaw, LexisNexis and now Bloomberglaw.  However, I quickly learned that I was wrong in my assumption.  Turns out that the low-cost legal research provider that has the most state case law coverage, based on years of coverage, is Casemaker.

Here's how I broke down the research:
  • Looked at coverage for all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia
  • Established the year that the each state published its first official state court decision (highest court)
  • Reviewed the scope of coverage for each research provider
  • Graphed who had the best pre-1950, pre-1920 and pre-1899 coverage
  • Graphed who had the most states where there was complete coverage of all decisions
  • Finally graphed the overall percentage of state case law decisions for all 50 states and the District of Columbia

In all categories but one, Casemaker had more coverage than Fastcase, Loislaw or Google Scholar.  Loislaw had five more states with pre-1950 coverage than Casemaker, but the further back you go the better Casemaker starts to look.  Casemaker had over twice as many pre-1920 states than Loislaw (28 vs. 13); Casemaker had four times as many states with pre-1899 coverage than Loislaw (28 vs. 7); and Casemaker had over twice as many states with complete case law coverage (11 vs. 5).  Fastcase and Google Scholar ran a distant third and fourth place with Fastcase only having 10 states with pre-1950 coverage, and Google Scholar having zero.  The overall percentage of case law coverage for all states and the District of Columbia also went to Casemaker (68%).

A big hat tip to the Legal Blog Watch where you can read more coverage about this story here.  Also, a hat tip to 3 Geeks for coining the phrase Wexisberg to refer to the top tier research engines which now includes Bloomberg Law.

I am the scholarship dude.


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