LexisONE.com vs. Lexis

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by Carole Levitt, J.D., M.L.S. A comparison of Lexis' traditional pay service with its new free service.

On July 6, 2000, LexisONE debuted an ALL FREE FULL TEXT, KEY WORD case research web site. Search strategies are identical to its pay site. For example, you can use boolean connectors—“and”, “or” or “not” to connect words and phrases, and you can search by judge, counsel or party name, besides citation, of course. Date limitations are also possible.

State cases and U.S. Appellate cases go back to July 1996 while the U.S. Supreme Court cases can be searched back to the beginning of the Court (1790). U.S. District Court cases, however, are not available free. To research earlier cases, Shepardize, or research content not available at the free site (such as District Court cases), you can enter the pay site directly from the free site and immediately begin your pay research by registering with a credit card.

It'll cost you $6 to Shepardize each case and $9 per/search to research anything else.

Besides the date coverage and content coverage differences between the free LexisONE site and the pay Lexis site, what are the other differences? With the pay site, you can print a “clean” copy of the case, but at the free site, the “Lexis” logos and advertisements are “all over” the page and this may limit your ability to attach the print-out to a court document unless the logos and ads don't bother you --or the court.

Also, your search terms won't be highlighted so scanning the case isn't as easy as it is when using the pay site. At the free site, you also can't use the “focus” feature to narrow your search, nor the “modify” feature. So to modify the search in any way, or to run your same search in a jurisdiction other than the one in which you began, you'll need to type the entire search string into the query box again.

Like the pay site, the free site allows you to search “all states” at once, or to restrict your search to one state. You can also search the U.S. Supreme Court cases and the Appellate cases together or restrict your search to one or the other.

LexisONE also has free forms (some interactive) and an Internet Legal Guide to 16,000 annotated legal links. I decided to sample the “Retainer” form. After filling in the blanks with my name, the clients' name and the retainer amount ($1,000,000), I pressed the “submit” button. Instantaneously, a form retainer letter was generated. I was duly impressed.

Do I recommend LexisONE? You bet. Next month, we'll compare LexisONE to FindLaw.com.

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