Friday, February 26, 2010

WestlawNext

Thompson Reuters unveiled the highly anticipated WestlawNext system this month. WestlawNext represents a dramatic change from the traditional Westlaw interface. The most significant change involves database selection. Database selection, an integral part of proper Westlaw use, is not required with WestlawNext. Users enter their searches into a Google-like search bar. The search will run through everything in the Westlaw databases and will return results, in order of relevance, from specific group categories (cases, statutes, secondary sources, briefs, etc.) After these initial results appear, users are able to refine their results by choosing to see only certain categories of information (only cases, only statutes, etc.) Users can further filter their results by jurisdiction, court, topic, etc. Reviews of WestlawNext so far have been generally favorable (See Ambrogi, Soloman, Elefant, Bergus). There is an expectation that the product will be particularly well received by law students and newer attorneys who will appreciate the sleek, Google-like search functionality.

WestlawNext will be rolled out on a trial basis at law schools this spring, with a full launch, including law students, possibly as early as the fall. Westlaw is not the only company with a revamped product. Both LexisNexis and Bloomberg will be unveiling new legal research platforms before the end of the year.