The information industry is experiencing the same incidence of mergers, acquisitions, and restructuring that we see in other industries, so it is no surprise that LEXIS-NEXIS has been acquiring key legal information brands over the last few years to add to its arsenal. The company has now taken the next logical step in restructuring its business units to pull together complementary strengths in content and technology—a tactic used by a number of major industry players recently. At the July annual meeting of the American Association of Law Libraries, the LEXIS-NEXIS Group announced the formation of LEXIS Publishing, which brings together five brands as a separate legal business unit. These include LEXIS, SHEPARD'S, Matthew Bender, Martindale-Hubbell, and MICHIE. In addition, the company announced the launch of lexis.com, a revamped Web-based legal research system, which will provide combined content from these brands and new tools for finding, analyzing, and validating information.
Hans Gieskes, president and CEO, LEXIS-NEXIS Group, said that the LEXIS Publishing organization will be headed by Paul W.A. Brown as president and Nicholas R. Emrick as chief operating officer. "Once we acquired an interest in Matthew Bender and SHEPARD'S last year, we were in a position to provide attorneys with complete content: case law, codes, forms, news and financial information, public records, a citations service and legal analysis," Brown said. "We are tying this together through a legal research system that offers productivity and task-based value to meet lawyers' time pressures and their need to be absolutely correct."
The first phase of the legal research system launches with a new Web interface on August 23 (at which time the current Web service, Xchange, will be removed), with the next stage of enhancements scheduled for the first quarter of 2000. The new system is being publicized as an "exclusive mix of rich intellectual property, innovative technology, and deep editorial expertise." The press release boldly states that it "presents a superior alternative to the West Key Number System and headnote hierarchy…" The company reportedly developed the new system with input from more than 6,000 members of the legal community.
Search Advisor, a key component of the new system, is a new finding tool for legal materials that is based on areas of law and related topics. It provides access to cases and treatises, law review articles, and legal news. LEXIS Search Advisor can target a legal issue, identify an appropriate source, and formulate a research request. Researchers can create effective searches by pointing and clicking on selected legal topics, as well as related legal terms. Another finding tool, Searchable Core Terms, allows researchers to focus on specific words or phrases of particular significance within case law and agency documents. Core Term searches may be conducted with LEXIS Search Advisor or independently.
The first quarter of 2000 will introduce Case Summaries, which are concise summaries of the essential issues and outcomes of court cases, and Core Concepts, which are categorized by the legal topics in the Search Advisor classification system. These are being written by staff lawyers. The classification system that has been developed for the practice areas of law and related topics forms the basis for both Search Advisor and for the labeling of Core Concepts. This editorially enhanced system has been created through the expertise of Matthew Bender editors and authors as well as the skills of LEXIS-NEXIS researchers and technologists.
Federal statutes and state statutes from MICHIE are not part of Search Advisor at this time, but they are still online in the standard LEXIS libraries and fully searchable, and may be added at a later date. Users would select the standard search from the lexis.com home page. Also on the home page are quick fill-in boxes to "Get a Doc" and "Check a Cite." From a search on lexis.com, users can link to the full text of Matthew Bender treatises.
The new lexis.com system presents an entirely new user interface. The enhancements over the Xchange Web system include:
- Updated home and research pages, making it even easier to select sources and access information quickly
- An easy-to-use search form
- Source and topical index "trails" that reinforce where the user is and aid navigation
- Streamlined functionality and graphics that improve performance
- A stationary navigation bar that allows for easier access to features
A company representative stressed that the new system for legal research was designed to make legal materials more accessible on the Web, and provide attorneys with a quick and easy way to get started on their research. He acknowledged that power users of the LEXIS service would probably prefer to stay with the "classic" LEXIS search capabilities and not choose to use Search Advisor.
Recently released figures showed that LEXIS-NEXIS operating profits were 17 percent lower in the last 6 months, while the West Group showed significant gains in sales and profits. (See the August 9, 1999 NewsBreak on Reed Elsevier.) Obviously LEXIS is feeling the sting of competition and decided it had to have a better Web-based service to attract and keep attorney searchers who need a fast and easy-to-use system. It is now positioning itself well to capitalize on its exclusive editorial content, and is showing flexibility in pricing arrangements.
A few weeks later, at the American Bar Association annual meeting, LEXIS Publishing announced that customers using the Web for legal research will have a new option for hourly pricing. It will be available to users of lexis.com in the fourth quarter of 1999. Nick Emrick said, "This new option can simplify the administration of law firms' own invoicing by allowing them to directly link their hour-to-hour research activities to a particular client." The use of an hourly ID is being implemented in response to requests from customers for additional flexibility.
For more information, visit the Web site at http://www.lexispublishing.com.