Westlaw Next at Legaltech 2010

Westlaw Next was introduced at Legaltech NY on Monday by Thomson/Reuters. They went all out–full page ad in the N.Y. Times, serving coffee right on the corner in front of the Hilton, a flashy multimedia presentation called the Westlaw Experience that didn’t impart a lot of information but supplied employment for several classical musicians, and sales reps with notebooks offering to demo it for you every ten feet. The product itself was demoed in the Westlaw booth. The new interface is cleaner and clearer, definitely a step in the right direction. There is a bar at the top of the screen where you type your natural language search, then select the jurisdiction from a list. When the documents are returned, there is a list of the most relevant documents from each category—case law, statutes, court documents, and secondary sources. On the left is a list of the types of documents and number of each retrieved. KeyCite flags are still integrated and the depth of treatment is now indicated by a green bar. ResultsPlus (not called that any more) still appears. There is no link for the Directory, Formfinder, Court Docs. It appeared that the only database restriction was by jurisdiction.

I’m not sure (and no one would tell me) exactly what data they were searching. It had to be an older data set since a search for the recent Supreme Court case Citizens United did not find that case.

The advanced search module was not available, but the Westlaw rep said that it was forthcoming. I inquired about getting a demo password, but there were none available. The interface is more modern, and should be available to the academic market in the fall (no word on pricing). Westlaw has invited local law librarians to another more in-depth demo on Feb. 17, and I am looking forward to seeing it then.

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