There’s a lot of competition in the legal research market these days. Back in the day, it was just Westlaw. Then it was Westlaw and LexisNexis. Bloomberg Law came along relatively recently, trying to edge into the market of lawyers who are willing to pay a lot for their research needs. But for the rest of us, upstarts like Fastcase, CaseText, and Casemaker have provided lower-cost solutions.
Even Google Scholar—which is completely free—lets you keyword search a large body of federal and state reported cases and filter results by court.
The ABA lists alternatives like Fastcase for research, and even BigLaw feeder schools like Harvard provide a list of alternative legal research options. The most recent Clio users survey saw Fastcase, LexisNexis, and Westlaw in a dead heat.
Now, LexisNexis is apparently running scared and taking direct shots at Casemaker, Fastcase, and Google Scholar.
— LexisNexis (@LexisNexis) May 1, 2017
It’s a weird bit of framing. Basically, the attack is “only LexisNexis has what LexisNexis has”—summaries, headnotes, etc.1 But that overlooks the idea that many lawyers don’t actually need or want those things, and they certainly don’t want to pay for them. If your practice is concentrated in one area, if you don’t need cases from every jurisdiction imaginable, if you don’t use law reviews, then something like Lexis can be overkill.
Additionally, if you’re running your small firm to be sustainable and lean, the lower monthly cost of a Fastcase subscription might trump the wider resources of a Lexis.
Outside the realm of legal research, LexisNexis would also like those darn college kids to stop Googling and start … paying LexisNexis instead.
What LexisNexis seems to overlook in their eagerness to go after everyone else is that it merely highlights how much they see things like Fastcase and Google Scholar as competition. If you’re scared enough to mount an entire campaign about how great you are and how terrible other services are, you’ve pretty much already acknowledged that they represent a legitimate threat. Fastcase and Casemaker should be nothing but proud to be highlighted in this fashion.
Of course, Westlaw has all those things too, but they didn’t make it into the chart. ↩