How to Feed a Lawyer (and Other Irreverent Observations from the Legal Underground)

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I like both too. But, I favor Lexis now because I got hooked on it in law school because they had better prizes for usage.


I got this post on my blawg as well, so I'll probably give her my anecdotal evidence. I like Westlaw for the free stuff, because it's easier for law students to get. Also, the other day I was cite-checking a law review article, and when I checked for subsequent history using both Sheperd's (Lexis) and KeyCite (West), one case came up wrong, with the name of the case overturning the decision completely missing, while Westlaw completely hooked me up. Although, I do like LexisNexis's "Get and Print" for multiple cites.


Okay... take with a grain of salt, since I am but a lowly 1.75L.

I think West has a much better legal database: being able to search briefs is totally cool. I think the search histories on both are pretty equivalent. Same with the terms and connectors searches; six one, half-dozen the other.

That said, I prefer Lexis in almost every other way: I *hate* the way West auto logs you out; I think West's natural language search isn't nearly as good as Lexis; I prefer the Shepard's format to the KeyCite format; I think the news database on Lexis is killer.

For all my class/paper research, I use both. For my personal research (that is, snarfing down news and current events) give me Lexis any day.


You need both to be really thorough. Lexis now has the Wall Street Journal, which Westlaw used to have but doesn't anymore (maybe abstracts only). Westlaw actually has more newspapers, though quanitity of sources may not that imporant in your search. Lexis has more search functionality for news, company info, public records and treatises, but Westlaw may have an edge in doing pure legal research, especially caselaw. And Westlaw's ResultsPlus can hook you into on-point ALRs. BTW, Westlaw also has Find and Print, the equivalent of Lexis's Get and Print.

Lisa Solomon

For the past nine years, I have limited my practice to legal research and writing for other lawyers on an outsourcing basis. Therefore, I am a very heavy user of online legal research tools.

Until recently, I was a dedicated Lexis user. When my last contract was up for renewal, Westlaw was able to give me a much better price for more content, especially secondary sources (to say nothing of the end-of-the-year special deals I got for signing up, including an ipod mini and any four hard copy treatise volumes with a value up to $1,000). My understanding is that, because West publishes ALR, Lexis does not offer any subscription plan that includes an ALR database; additionally, you cannot pull up an ALR article on lexis by citation - you have to run a search at $85 a pop. Westlaw also has NY Jurisprudence and a host of other very valuable secondary sources that are either not available on Lexis (I never saw Siegel's New York Practice on L/N, for example) or cost an arm and a leg through Lexis.

I am also a fan of the ResultsPlus feature on Westlaw: sometimes it reveals a secondary source that is so on point that it is worth it to pay to retrieve the document (if it's not within my broad subscription plan). I otherwise would not search in secondary sources that are outside my plan.

Finally, I think Westlaw's display, which highlights search terms with a yellow background, is more effective than Lexis's display.


I have used both in the last two years. I prefer neither, but use West. West does not allow you to flip through statutes like a book, which Lexis does. I prefer Shepards as well to Keycite. I like how the headnotes for Lexis actually quote the case--very helpful when doing the initial research.

But the Lexis rep (improperly) questioned my business ethics. So I chose West.


Here's an anecdotal story:

I was doing cite-checking for a Law Review article (my first such assignment), and part of it involved KeyCiting/Shepardizing all the cases to make sure subsequent history was properly cited. I Shepardized one case, and the results had 1) the wrong name of a subsequent case where cert was denied (I think) and listed that the case had another instance of subsequent history (can't remember what at the moment), but had no citation at all for that. However, when I brought up the same case on West's KeyCite, it had all the pertinent (and correct) information.


David, Westlaw does have a feature where you a flip through statutes like a book - it's called copy with reference.

Royce Rutherford

DAVID, the pages are listed under "documents in sequence" try that.


I think that Lexis is head and shoulders better than Westlaw. Aside from the more obvious (Shepard's, News and Business), you can now Shepardize headnotes. Also, Lexis' CheckCite is superior to Westlaw's WestCheck.

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