As intranet usage rises throughout corporations and law firms, West Group (http://www.westgroup.com) has initiated a new line of intranet product offerings that allow institutional users ways to customize access to westlaw.com. First in the series is the West Intranet Toolkit.
Recent surveys have indicated that in 1997 almost one-third of the attorneys in Top 700 firms accessed intranets. That number doubled in 1998. In 1995, investment in intranet technology stood at roughly $1 billion, with projections pushing the amount to $13 billion in 1999. Tracy Scott, West Online's vice president of marketing and segment operations, points out that "in 1996, approximately 20 percent of law firms had an intranet or planned to have one. By the end of 1998, it is expected that more than 80 percent will have or be planning to build an intranet. Organizations are adopting intranets because they facilitate easier access of information internally and provide the ability to organize information around areas of specialization."
According to Andrew Prozes, executive vice president of West Group and chief operating officer for West Online, "West Group's vision is to make Westlaw the preferred electronic service for legal and business information, and full intranet integration will help lead us there."
The West Intranet Toolkit will provide active links from local content on the intranet to Westlaw content, e.g. by creating hypertext links out of Citelink checks of local legal papers. The Intranet Toolkit offers pre-built Web page templates with embedded Westlaw database URLs. Organized by area of specialization, these links connect directly to Westlaw content. Users simply add the pre-embedded links to their local Web site where appropriate.
The Toolkit includes:
- sets of Westlaw databases organized by practice area, available for cutting and pasting into intranet menus, along with specific, frequently used content.
- Westlaw research controls for common tasks or searches, e.g. citation checking in KeyCite or case retrieval via citation.
- a hypertext links builder that automatically creates HTML links to specific documents or queries, sections of the online Westlaw Directory, or any Westlaw database.
The West Intranet Toolkit also reaches links on the Current News and Information page, which reaches sources from DIALOG and Dow Jones Interactive, online search services to which Westlaw is a gateway. The Toolkit runs with both leading browsers--Microsoft Internet Explorer 3.0 or above and Netscape Navigator 3.01 or higher.