Yes, My Friends, Westlaw Still Sucks


One of the recurrent aggravations of my life as a first-year associate has been setting aside time in the evening hours when I can work from home via the magic of the Inter-Net, only to have my best laid plans thwarted by technical difficulties. On numerous occasions I've had doc review servers crash on me for no apparent reason, and my firm's VPN system is extraordinarily unreliable (though I must say it's been better lately). And now, Westlaw is down.

Anyone who's spent enough time around me in the legal context knows my views about the respective merits of Lexis and Westlaw. In short, Lexis is a wonderful, effective, and extremely helpful research system with an intuitive interface and an easily navigable architecture. Westlaw is the opposite of all of those things. Unfortunately, there are certain materials that Westlaw hosts exclusively (just like Lexis has its own exclusive goodies), and for tonight's (now tomorrow's) research assignment, the truffles I need are buried deep within the tangled roots of the Westlaw system. And Westlaw is currently down, which makes it slightly less useful than usual.

This is all very disappointing.


hmm, at this point I prefer Westlaw, but perhaps that is simply because I am a lowly 1L and cannot yet appreciate the greatness that is Lexis. Westlaw prints double-sided, so it looks shorter. Point 1 for Westlaw!

I am a Lexis fan myself. Westlaw just aggravates me.

I guess you're not 1337 enough to backdoor your VPN

No, I'm much more of an L7.

As a law student, the most important factor in deciding which legal research service I prefer is the stuff offered through the various reward programs. Lexis lets me get free board games, so it beats out WestLaw.

Also, Westlaw's interface is really painful. Lexis is easy and intuitive to browse through, so I generally use it if they have what I'm looking for. It's annoying, though, that they sometimes use odd citation formats.

Having worked for the rat bastards of stupiddumb Lexis, I wanted nothing more than to stick it to them by becomming a lifelong Westlaw fan. Alas, you are correct, and Lexis is more intuitive, not to mention that I have already invested 2 years in familiarizing myself with their systems. I am doomed to spend the rest of my life throwing money at the fuckers who were too cheap to give me a raise.

You must be citing all of your cases incorrectly in your memos, briefs, etc. Lexis will only give you its cite (which is not the official cite) and Lexis doesn't go back into their system even years later to show the official cite or page number. Westlaw gives the official cite that alsoapplies to the books as well. (Those books are the official reporters.) Those books (F.2d, Fed. Supp., etc.) are what you're supposed to cite in your documesnt. If you're citing to the Lexis numbers, you are wrong. Look in your Bluebook of Citations if you doubt me. You're telling everyone it's okay to cite cases incorrectly if they rely on Lexis. You are wrong. If they use Lexis to pull cases, they then need to go to the West publications to get the offical cites and page numbers. But that info is on Westlaw, so they don't actually need to stock the reporters in their library. If they only have Lexis and no access to Westlaw or the West Reporters, they have a problem. This is just the kind of thing the Supreme Court Justices were talking about when they complained about the sloppiness of lawyers appearing in the Supreme Court. The courts (stste and Federal) rely on the offficial West Reporters. Lawyers are expected to do the same. I don't just say this because I used to work for Westlaw several years ago; I say it because it's true. If those people really took some training on Westlaw (free), and really learned the system, they would come to realize that it's easier to use and also much more accurate. The only thing I like about Lexis is that it now has Shepard's Citations. Westlaw made a mistake in letting that one get away, but Keycite is the equivalent.

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This page contains a single entry by hb published on April 17, 2006 10:40 PM.

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