Monday, August 3, 2009

Changes to Lexis and Westlaw

Summertime usually brings a facelift to both LexisNexis and Westlaw, and this year is no exception. Here are some important changes to note about both services.

Changes to Westlaw are immediately apparent from the sign-on screen. Although they are mostly cosmetic in nature, there is one substantial upcoming change: beginning in the fall, Westlaw users will be prompted to create a custom “OnePass” username and password for additional account security. Previously, users had the choice to create a username or to log in only with the numeric password on the original Westlaw registration card.

LexisNexis has required a customized username and password for several years, and its overall design remains the same (for now). But the makers of Lexis have been working on interesting new features: effective August 1, Lexis presents a new enhancement to case law research called “Related Content”. Similar to the “ResultsPlus” feature on Westlaw, the “Related Content” sidebar offers quick links to various secondary sources which interpret a particular case, making it easy for researchers to locate additional materials on point.

Westlaw is likewise no slouch in developing interesting tools, and researchers might enjoy the new “Sticky Notes” feature now available on the Law School tab. It’s a quick way to leave reminders to yourself about research tasks to be done the next time you sign into Westlaw. Sticky Notes are part of the company’s “Customizable Westlaw” initiative, which allows users to create customized research tabs based on frequently-researched subjects, as well as share those tabs (and notes) with collaborators via email.

Do you have a favorite feature or timesaving tip in Lexis or Westlaw? Share it in the comments section.