Sabrina I. Pacifici is the Editor, Publisher and Web Manager of LLRX.com.
On July 6, Lexis Publishing of Dayton, Ohio, launched a new Web site called lexisOnesm. The site is targeted at solos and small firm attorneys, and unlike their veteran online research system, Lexis®, the overall service is, dare I say it....free!! This fact alone makes it worth a close inspection.
So, just what is lexisOne? Well, my first impression of the site is that it could be described as a desktop legal intranet for attorneys who do not have the good fortune to have a law library and the services of expert legal research professionals. The site currently has three major components:
- all cases from the two highest courts from each state beginning January 1, 1996; all federal circuit court cases beginning January 1, 1996; and the complete collection of Supreme Court cases (from 1790)
- 1,100 free legal forms
- an annotated Legal Research Guidecomprises 16,000 legal-related links
Not a bad start. The site will undergo further development throughout the course of this year, with the incorporation of content in the areas of client development, practice management, news and court calendars.
You are probably saying to yourselves right about now, so....what's the hitch? Lexis giving away free case law! Well, the times they are a changing, and Lou Andreozzi, President and CEO of Lexis, wants his company to be on the crest of the wave, not under the swells. In my conversation with him on July 5, he stated that the 350,000 attorneys in solo or small practices are quickly migrating to the Web, a mechanism that benefits the profession, and Lexis has consequently refocused its business model. According to Mr. Andreozzi, as of April, 2000, 50% of all searches on Lexis were conducted via the Web. This fact certainly provides the proper impetus to create a new value-added Web based service for lawyers.
lexisOne Design, Navigation and Access Features
My review of the site was undertaken right before the actual launch, so significant functionality had yet to be activated. The overall design of the site is simple, clean and easy on the eyes. It comprises a red background with a white font (Arial) for the text in the initial pages of the site, and a pale yellow background and forest green font on subsequent pages. The navigation structure for the site is in a ubiquitous frame on the left side of each page. Advertising banners appear in a frame at the top of each page.
Mr. Andreozzi is obviously a strong supporter of the direct access to content concept in web site design, which is a good thing. There is no need to click more than a couple of times to locate the desired information on the site. The content you are viewing at any given time is clearly identified and the links to resources are easy to find. Mind you, this is not a big site, so there is no fear of getting lost.
There is a log-on and registration function, and you are not required to enter data other than your name, email address, and user name and password of your choice. You can choose to enter additional information such as your firm name, address, practice area, jurisdiction in which you practice, year graduated, and information as to other online legal systems to which you currently subscribe.
The site has a well documented privacy protection statement and provides information on how to obtain a copy of information about yourself that may be included on the service. The privacy practices are the same as those on the Lexis.com service.
There is a site help function, but it was not available yet. At the top right hand side of each page there is a drop-down menu titled, Discover the Power of the Lexis Family of Products. It provides access to free and fee-based services, including Martindale-Hubbell, lexis.com bookstore and lexis.com CLE Center (all free), and Lexis-Nexis and Shepard's (fee-based).
Access to the free case law is supplied two ways. You may choose the Quick Access - Get a Case function, that appears on the first case law screen, and simply type in a citation. Or, you may choose a state or federal case law search, and fill in the template screen that appears, including the source, search terms, and optional search restrictions (date, parties, judges, counsel). Once again, the free content begins January 1, 1996. If you are interested in locating content beyond this date range, then you may access the entire Lexis caselaw service using a credit card system, at a cost of $9 per search, and $4 to Shepardize a case.
The 1,100 legal forms are accessible via an alphabetical topical arrangement. You choose the topic, and then the specific form from the list provided. Depending on which form you require, it will be supplied in a choice of Word or WordPerfect format, PDF, or HotDocs (HotDocs Player may be downloaded from the site). lexisOne indicates the size of the document prior to downloading. In some instances, there is also an online tutorial available (requiring Flash 4) to assist in filling out the form.
The forms include: Bankruptcy, Copyright, Criminal Law, Employment (ADA), Letters of Credit, Licensing, Litigation (Federal Court Forms), Patent Forms, Secured Transaction, and Wills.
Legal Internet Guide
The Legal Internet Guide has 24 categories with more than 16,000 legal-related links. All the links are annotated, and include government, commercial, academic and institutional sponsors. There are links to 36 practice areas, and other categories include: state, federal and legislative resources, legal and national news sites, computer and security links, and even general weather sources. Many of the links highlight special features and content provided by the specific sites.
There is room for some more defined categories and organization among this list of links, but in general, the Guide offers a wide range of useful sites. Unfortunately, the Guide does not appear to offer any possibility for the user to customize it to his/her own specific interests and requirements. This would be a useful function.
As I indicated at the beginning of this review, lexisONE was just launched today, and like any new site, will no doubt have a period of adjustment, development and enhancements, based on user feedback as well as already stated expansion plans. All in all, this site will no doubt prove useful to many attorneys who are looking for aggregated legal content in a straight-forward package that has the added bonus of being free. I will look in on the site again and report on new services and other enhancements as they become available.