Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Bad Lexis

Lately, I have talked with a number of students who are planning to set up solo law practices after they graduate and pass the bar exam--not surprising given the job market for new lawyers. Most of them plan on doing something else part time to pay the bills while trying to establish their practices, and they have very little money to devote to start-up costs. One big fear revolves around the loss of "free" access to Lexis and Westlaw once they graduate. New graduates know they have gotten dependent on these databases, and they wonder how they will cope without them. I have suggested a number of free, reliable websites for primary sources, and the Pace Law Library has a good online research guide that gathers together free and low-cost sources. I have recommended that graduates start with the free sources, and then go to Lexis when they need fee-based content such as Shepard's or Matthew Bender publications. Lexis had a good, pay-as-you-go option that allowed researchers to access only the materials they needed using a credit card. That option has been ended, according to an announcement Lexis posted recently. Lexis's reason for cutting off this option doesn't make a lot of sense to me: "This decision is part of our effort to create and support products that better meet those needs identified through collaboration with our customers ..." So exactly how does cutting off access by credit card affect that effort? The only thing that Lexis is trying to support is its own bottom line. Credit card access to pieces of the Lexis database meant that some users cancelled their subscriptions because it was more cost effective to do so. Lexis's decision really hurts the solo practitioner and the small law firm at a time of deep economic distress. Shame on you, Lexis!

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