Sunday, March 6, 2011
WestlawNext, WestSearch, and the Secret Recipes for Coca-Cola, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and McDonald's Special Sauce
Ronald E. Wheeler, the Director of the Dorraine Zief Law Library and Associate Professor of Law at the University of San Francisco School of Law, has written up his thoughts on Westlaw Next in an article called "Does WestlawNext Really Change Everything: The Implications of WestlawNext on Legal Research." He concludes that the new propriety engine for WestlawNext (called WestSearch) really is revolutionary, and that its secret is closely guarded, "like the secret recipe for Coca-Cola, Kentucky Fried Chicken[,] or McDonald's Special Sauce." So if that's not enough to get you to read the article, I don't know what is! Click here to download a copy from SSRN. Among its features, WestlawNext does not require researchers to choose a database or source before searching. Professor Wheeler notes that this feature will have a number of effects, and not all of them negative. (One positive effect is that researchers will learn about previously unknown sources, databases, and documents.)
We learned about the article from Suzanne E. Rowe, the Dean's Distinguished Faculty Fellow and an Associate Professor and Director of Legal Research and Writing at the University of Oregon School of Law. Thanks Suzanne!
One feature not often discussed about WestlawNext is its cost, which is more than regular Westlaw. As we teach various sources, teaching cost-effective legal research becomes ever more important.