Westlaw/Lexis

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Anonymous User
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Westlaw/Lexis

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Apr 23, 2011 6:31 pm

Since law firms pay tons of $$ for Westlaw/Lexis, is it safe to say I should learn how to research in a manner that doesn't involve throwing every combination of keywords into an ALLFED search?

Also, I have gotten comfortable with only one of Westlaw v. Lexis - is it safe to say all firms have both? If not, could we get a list going of what firms use what? I am thinking about taking some of those online tutorials as a way to avoid outlining.

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romothesavior
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Re: Westlaw/Lexis

Postby romothesavior » Sat Apr 23, 2011 6:48 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Since law firms pay tons of $$ for Westlaw/Lexis, is it safe to say I should learn how to research in a manner that doesn't involve throwing every combination of keywords into an ALLFED search?

Yes.

Anonymous User wrote:Also, I have gotten comfortable with only one of Westlaw v. Lexis - is it safe to say all firms have both?

No.

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OGR3
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Re: Westlaw/Lexis

Postby OGR3 » Sat Apr 23, 2011 7:18 pm

It would be a good idea to know how to do book research as well.

I have a friend who's working at a small firm this summer that uses both lexis and westlaw, but the partner she'll be working with doesn't use either.

Sup Kid
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Re: Westlaw/Lexis

Postby Sup Kid » Sat Apr 23, 2011 10:57 pm

OGR3 wrote:It would be a good idea to know how to do book research as well.

I have a friend who's working at a small firm this summer that uses both lexis and westlaw, but the partner she'll be working with doesn't use either.

What is this "book research" you are referring to? Like binders of Lexis printouts?

In all seriousness, it is rare that a firm won't let you use Lexis or Westlaw. They bill you by the hour, and clients will not stand for paying hundreds or thousands of dollars for research done using books when it can be done in a fraction of the time online. My guess is that while this partner may not use them, the people that work for him do.

09042014
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Re: Westlaw/Lexis

Postby 09042014 » Sat Apr 23, 2011 11:06 pm

I can't wait til Google Scholar destroys Westlaw and Lexis. Their fee's are fucking ridiculous.

imchuckbass58
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Re: Westlaw/Lexis

Postby imchuckbass58 » Sun Apr 24, 2011 12:29 am

Anonymous User wrote:Since law firms pay tons of $$ for Westlaw/Lexis, is it safe to say I should learn how to research in a manner that doesn't involve throwing every combination of keywords into an ALLFED search?

Also, I have gotten comfortable with only one of Westlaw v. Lexis - is it safe to say all firms have both? If not, could we get a list going of what firms use what? I am thinking about taking some of those online tutorials as a way to avoid outlining.


Yes, you need to learn cost-effective research. In fact, many big firms will require you to take a class (either prior to the summer or in your first week) that teaches you how to do cost-effective research (use broad keywords and narrow the search within your results rather than re-searching, how to choose the narrowest database, etc). ALLFEDS searches in particular are shockingly expensive (>$200) and are rarely if ever necessary.

It is pretty safe to say that any large firm has both Lexis and Westlaw, however you need to know both. Some partners and/or clients will ask you to do research in one or the other. Why? I have no idea, but this is what we were told by my firm, and we were also told we were expected to be competent in both.

OGR3 wrote:It would be a good idea to know how to do book research as well.

I have a friend who's working at a small firm this summer that uses both lexis and westlaw, but the partner she'll be working with doesn't use either.


That's totally ridiculous. This would never happen at a big firm, and I'm frankly surprised it happens at a small firm.

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thrillhouse
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Re: Westlaw/Lexis

Postby thrillhouse » Sun Apr 24, 2011 7:46 am

Sup Kid wrote:
OGR3 wrote:It would be a good idea to know how to do book research as well.

I have a friend who's working at a small firm this summer that uses both lexis and westlaw, but the partner she'll be working with doesn't use either.

What is this "book research" you are referring to? Like binders of Lexis printouts?

In all seriousness, it is rare that a firm won't let you use Lexis or Westlaw. They bill you by the hour, and clients will not stand for paying hundreds or thousands of dollars for research done using books when it can be done in a fraction of the time online. My guess is that while this partner may not use them, the people that work for him do.


The counter argument is, of course, that a client won't pay Wexis fees to have you use Wexis when you can do the same research as quickly in print for free.

You need to know how to use both because each database has strengths and weaknesses that make finding what you are looking for much more efficient in one as opposed to the other. Then, there are the sources that are proprietary to one or the other website. You need to know what those are.

Your true value as a legal researcher, however, will come in knowing where to quickly and efficiently access sources that either aren't in Wexis or are available elsewhere for much cheaper (even cheap as free).

LawSchoolWannaBe
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Re: Westlaw/Lexis

Postby LawSchoolWannaBe » Sun Apr 24, 2011 9:32 am

It can be helpful to start with treatises (e.g., for patents I like to start with Chisum, unless I know some of the big cases already). You don't want to waste time with them, but you can get a good overview of the law in the area you're going to be researching without hitting getting lost in Lexis/Westlaw.

BobSacamano
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Re: Westlaw/Lexis

Postby BobSacamano » Sun Apr 24, 2011 1:59 pm

My firm has a flat rate plan with Lexis. I cannot tell you how happy this makes me. Going out of plan is absurdly expensive, but thankfully I never have to.

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Stanford4Me
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Re: Westlaw/Lexis

Postby Stanford4Me » Sun Apr 24, 2011 2:04 pm

Yes you need to learn how to effectively search on Westlaw/Lexis. I wish I still had the source, but I saw a survey online (which was corroborated by my OCS) that said the majority of firms use Westlaw. As such, the majority of my research during the school year has been done with Westlaw.

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Re: Westlaw/Lexis

Postby 09042014 » Sun Apr 24, 2011 2:08 pm

BobSacamano wrote:My firm has a flat rate plan with Lexis. I cannot tell you how happy this makes me. Going out of plan is absurdly expensive, but thankfully I never have to.


They still probably track it to bill your clients. So searching ALLFED repeatedly might be frowned on still.

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thrillhouse
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Re: Westlaw/Lexis

Postby thrillhouse » Sun Apr 24, 2011 2:27 pm

Desert Fox wrote:
BobSacamano wrote:My firm has a flat rate plan with Lexis. I cannot tell you how happy this makes me. Going out of plan is absurdly expensive, but thankfully I never have to.


They still probably track it to bill your clients. So searching ALLFED repeatedly might be frowned on still.


This is true. They will track and bill to the client, both for your time and for your time on the database. More the point, they will bill at the Wexis commercial a la carte rate (not the rate they negotiated for the firm). You still have to be good with each database to avoid angering clients, the firm librarians, and your partners/bosses. You also need to be good with print research and other online sources for the same reasons.

Stanislaw Carter
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Re: Westlaw/Lexis

Postby Stanislaw Carter » Sun Apr 24, 2011 5:35 pm

Nobody will frown on you too much for not being so cost-effective with Westlaw or Lexis, and I think people here are exaggerating things.

But I do think that you should be an efficient researcher. The poster above who said to look at treatises first hit the nail on the head. My strategy is always to research various points of law in treatises, get the lay of the land, and then look for recent caselaw on the issue if anything's changed in the relevant jurisdiction. Usually, just doing that won't run up costs. Just throwing in keywords into massive searches from the get-go is very inefficient, even aside from costs.

If you really want to be cost-conscious over your summer (or as an attorney), just call your firm's Westlaw rep. They're very helpful, and all the searches and cases they pull up (and later send to you) are free.

And to the 1Ls/2Ls above, there's a setting in Westlaw/Lexis where you can specify how you want to be billed, which negates the whole notion that you are necessarily charged a boatload of change for a specific search. I won't go into more detail on the off-chance that this might be an aspect specific to my firm.

Edit: And don't be glued to Westlaw or Lexis. Lexis is good for some things that Westlaw simply can't do.

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newyorker88
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Re: Westlaw/Lexis

Postby newyorker88 » Sun Apr 24, 2011 6:52 pm

BobSacamano wrote:My firm has a flat rate plan with Lexis. I cannot tell you how happy this makes me. Going out of plan is absurdly expensive, but thankfully I never have to.


Firms negotiate their flat rate plans based on prior usage. If you use Lexis like crazy the firm will pay for it indirectly when they go to negotiate their next flat rate plan. Don't abuse it thinking because it's flat rate your usage doesn't matter. Your firm will be very unhappy with you.

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Re: Westlaw/Lexis

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Apr 26, 2011 11:17 am

OP here. Thanks for the advice. I've done a lot of research but it's unfortunate that the wide open nature of law school Westlaw/Lexis access encourages the opposite of cost-effective research. I went to a cost-effective research session at my school, but I didn't find it particularly helpful - probably because we went through everything really fast. Any tutorials you guys recommend?

Stanislaw Carter
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Re: Westlaw/Lexis

Postby Stanislaw Carter » Tue Apr 26, 2011 11:24 am

Any tutorials you guys recommend?


Some of my strategies:

1) Call the rep. All hits and searches and cases are free.
2) Do a large search, but not All Fed&State. Once you get those hits, you own all the cases. A common expensive trap is when people want to search within the hits. That costs money. If you instead choose "locate within results" or whatever it's called, you spend nothing.
3) Become really good with terms & connectors/natural language phrases so you don't do wasted searches by typing in bad keywords and turning up useless hits.
4) Use your firm's library first and get an overview and settled law regarding the issue you're researching. Use that as a starting point for research. Use lexis/westlaw to get the most recent events on that law. In other words, start with the treatises, end with lexis/westlaw.

The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law has a good chapter on how to research issues efficiently. I recommend checking that out.

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Borhas
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Re: Westlaw/Lexis

Postby Borhas » Tue Apr 26, 2011 11:30 am

Anonymous User wrote:Nobody will frown on you too much for not being so cost-effective with Westlaw or Lexis, and I think people here are exaggerating things.

But I do think that you should be an efficient researcher. The poster above who said to look at treatises first hit the nail on the head. My strategy is always to research various points of law in treatises, get the lay of the land, and then look for recent caselaw on the issue if anything's changed in the relevant jurisdiction. Usually, just doing that won't run up costs. Just throwing in keywords into massive searches from the get-go is very inefficient, even aside from costs.

If you really want to be cost-conscious over your summer (or as an attorney), just call your firm's Westlaw rep. They're very helpful, and all the searches and cases they pull up (and later send to you) are free.

And to the 1Ls/2Ls above, there's a setting in Westlaw/Lexis where you can specify how you want to be billed, which negates the whole notion that you are necessarily charged a boatload of change for a specific search. I won't go into more detail on the off-chance that this might be an aspect specific to my firm.

Edit: And don't be glued to Westlaw or Lexis. Lexis is good for some things that Westlaw simply can't do.


good advice but why be anonymous to post this?


anyway what I do

1. Treaties/overview... find seminal cases
2. Read seminal cases
3. Shepardize seminal cases and look for specifics applications/factors within framework of seminal cases


LexisNexis has several tutorials on their site, I recommend you use them. I got at least $250 of Amazon.com gift cards by just doing all the tutorials I could/shepardizing everyday. WL has tutorial as well, but not as many point opportunities since they don't need to market it as much. (since Westlaw Next style searching is the future of legal research... Lexis Advance will come out in the summer... thank god. )
Last edited by Borhas on Tue Apr 26, 2011 11:34 am, edited 1 time in total.

Stanislaw Carter
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Re: Westlaw/Lexis

Postby Stanislaw Carter » Tue Apr 26, 2011 11:31 am

good advice but why be anonymous to post this?


I accidentally anonymously posted that.

thisbigolclub
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Re: Westlaw/Lexis

Postby thisbigolclub » Tue Apr 26, 2011 2:25 pm

I'm sorry if I might have misinterpreted people or missed something, but if we simply browse the various treatises available, are firms typically charged for that? It would seem like a great way to almost completely avoid doing searches all together.

Stanislaw Carter
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Re: Westlaw/Lexis

Postby Stanislaw Carter » Tue Apr 26, 2011 2:29 pm

but if we simply browse the various treatises available, are firms typically charged for that?


If you're browsing a physical treatise from your firm's library, it should not cost money.

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Verity
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Re: Westlaw/Lexis

Postby Verity » Tue Apr 26, 2011 2:33 pm

Desert Fox wrote:I can't wait til Google Scholar destroys Westlaw and Lexis. Their fee's are fucking ridiculous.



According to Wikipedia (citation included): "Google Scholar is also not able to shepardize case law, as Westlaw and Lexis can."

They need to get on that. Call it "Google Westlaw/Lexis Crusher."

dougroberts
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Re: Westlaw/Lexis

Postby dougroberts » Tue Apr 26, 2011 3:31 pm

This tread worries me. I search Westlaw Next right now like I blindly search Google. Looks like I have some work to do after finals :(

thisbigolclub
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Re: Westlaw/Lexis

Postby thisbigolclub » Tue Apr 26, 2011 4:14 pm

Sorry about that. I guess I meant that if you just browse, for example, one of the Restatements on Westlaw from the main page and try to see what comes up via that route, would that incur typical searching fees?

imchuckbass58
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Re: Westlaw/Lexis

Postby imchuckbass58 » Tue Apr 26, 2011 4:49 pm

thisbigolclub wrote:Sorry about that. I guess I meant that if you just browse, for example, one of the Restatements on Westlaw from the main page and try to see what comes up via that route, would that incur typical searching fees?


If you open the treatise, you get charged for opening the treatise. Then if the treatise links to a case, then you are charged for clicking the link to the case. That said, it's probably cheaper than all the searches you would have to do to find the case you were looking for otherwise.

dougroberts wrote:This tread worries me. I search Westlaw Next right now like I blindly search Google. Looks like I have some work to do after finals :(


Westlaw next actually has an entirely different pricing structure from regular westlaw where the search cost is a flat fee (pretty low, I think $60 or less) and you're charged differential amounts for accessing different documents, so it's actually not as bad as blindly search regular westlaw.

The other thing to note is that many firms have flat-rate plans where certain types of documents (ALLFEDS, USCA, Delaware law) are included for a flat rate, so your pricing structure might differ. The best thing to do (both in terms of cost efficiency and making things easy on yourself) is to consult with the westlaw rep or lexis rep at your firm (they're always there during regular business hours) and ask for their advice until you get the hang of it. They are really good at figuring out how to find exactly what you're looking for.

LurkerNoMore
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Re: Westlaw/Lexis

Postby LurkerNoMore » Wed Apr 27, 2011 8:07 am

The above posters are correct. You do not want to be doing an ALLFED search at a firm, even if they have a flat rate.

1. The firm does pass costs on the client and your history will be used (and probably have to be written down, which is a pain for the partner).

2. The usage of the firm is factored in to the flat rate. So if you are going to town on broad, expensive searches, that gets factored into the rate the next time your firm negotiates its flat rate.

3. Really broad searches end up costing you time. Your time = more billable hours. While billable hours are good, there is a balance. If a research task would have taken you 4 hours with some focused searches, but took you 8 because you were flopping around in a stack of minor resources and not quite on point cases in the wrong jurisdiction, that is bad.

As for becoming more effective, there are several ways to get started.

1. Ask the person who is giving you the assignment for a starting point. They will often know of a treatise or case, or previous client matter that will ground your research.

2. Find out if you can search your firm's documents. Often the work you do will be a riff on other work that has been done. There is no point reinventing the wheel. If you have access to other firm documents, you can often get a good lay of the land.

3. Wiki and Google. A lot of the stuff you will be dealing with will sound like it is written in another language. Don't open lexis or westlaw until you have figured out, broadly, what the issue is. Wiki is surprisingly good for giving overviews (though can't be trusted for actually getting the law right). Google is an amazing place to start with natural language searches. Sometimes you will get the case you need from this. At worst you will usually get the terms of art you need to run effective searches in lexis or westlaw. Google scholar is also a great resource.

4. Pacer. Pacer is much cheaper than either lexis or westlaw. If you know some cases, you can pull them from Pacer and get motions, briefs, etc. relating to it. Briefs can be an amazing resource.

5. Your firm's librarian. Always ask your firm's librarian about what resources your firm has wrt the topic you are assigned. There are all sorts of specialized databases that can get you to what you need much more efficiently than lexis and westlaw sometimes.

6. Call the lexis and westlaw reps. Tell them what you are looking for and they will construct an efficient search for you.

7. Start with Treatises, or a case, or law reviews. The smaller the database, the smaller the charge. Looking for a single document is cheap. Clicking on links for other documents is also cheap.

8. But don't go too narrow on your searches. Choose the narrowest database that makes sense. But then search as broadly as you can. Searching in within search results is free. Running another search with different search terms on the same database is not.

8. Be sure to sheapardize/keycite. It is an incredibly rookie move to use bad precedent.




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