Legal Research Shifts from the Print Library to Costly Digital Databases

Legal Research Shifts from the Print Library to Costly Digital Databases



Many lawyers are saying that legal books are not that doable anymore when practicing law because of the risk of missing information.


Take the case of Marc Daffner who frequently used applications on his iPhone to search for session notes on particular statues. According to Mr. Daffner, it has helped him defend his clients and their liberties.


A 1993 graduate of the University Of Pittsburgh School Of Law, Mr. Daffner is among the generation of lawyers taught to conduct their research on books in libraries. This same age group is now leading the industry’s leap to the Internet, giving those who can afford it the necessary legal ammunition and a lot of headaches to those who do not have enough funds.


Such method of seeking legal information with the help of modern technology have major implication for clients.


According to David Dilenschneider, a content development supervisor for LexisNexis, virtually 100% of legal practitioners today use online research. “You really cannot practice in books these days. It isn’t doable because of the risk of missing information,” said Dilenschneider.


Colossal databases of statutes and judicial opinions, as well as proprietary bonuses like analyses and explanations, are being provided by LexisNexis and Westlaw. Proprietary content, coupled with advanced search algorithms and other special tools, make these two services the most efficient, as well as the most expensive, in the legal industry.


Although spokespersons from both companies declined to comment on their specific prices, the price sheet of Westlaw reveal a $24-per-minute charge to search through the database of court decisions. The price sheet of Lexis reveals some tabs exceeding $200,000 annually.