Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Online resource for the Lawyers - Free Research Sites

Thanks to Robert Ambrogi's article, Tour the Legal Web's New Sites for the heads up on Quest and the review of Lexis Web. I had run into Lexis Web earlier. Here is the whole of Ambrogi's review:

LexisNexis has launched a beta version of its Web search tool, called Lexis Web.

Unlike general search sites such as Google, Lexis Web searches a more limited sphere of legal-oriented Web sites. The user guide says that the sites it searches have been selected and validated by the LexisNexis editorial staff, so that users "can trust that all content has met LexisNexis criteria for being authoritative and accurate."

This is similar in concept to the search tool, Quest, which searches an editorially selected sphere of Web content in addition to's own content. The goal is to produce search results that are more relevant and targeted to legal users.

In addition to search results, Lexis Web displays a selection of "LexisNexis Recommended Sources." These are sources and libraries within the subscription version of the LexisNexis Research System. If you have a subscription, you can click on any of these recommended sources to run the same search there.

Another feature of Lexis Web is clustering to help you narrow your search results. Clusters are topical folders and subfolders shown in a pane to the left of the search results. A search for "Antonin Scalia" resulted in top-level folders for "Legal Topics," "People" and "Keywords," among others. You can also use this to narrow results by subject or geography.

In the search results, when you click on a link, it opens a nearly full-sized preview of the linked page. Click one icon in the preview to go to the actual page or another to close the preview. Lexis Web is free, but the user guide includes this foreboding note: "During the beta offer -- all search activities will be available to you free of charge." Does this suggest Lexis plans to charge at some point? Charging for a Web search tool would make little sense, so let's hope not.

I admit to one problem with Lexis Web. Let me explain that I use Firefox and have not tried this in Internet Explorer (which I do have on the computer but just do not like using). The following is what the site looks like when you run a query:
Clicking on a link does not open that link in a new tab but instead opens a pop up which gives you a preview of the page:

Which I think is a bit unnecessary. On the other hand, I got a lot more pertinent results from Lexis Web than I did with Quest.
Which makes Lexis Web much more appealing to me. Charges seem silly as some of this information can be had via Google or using Google to search blogs: