Which Is Better For Legal Research, LexisNexis or Westlaw? - JD Advising
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LexisNexis and Westlaw

Which Is Better For Legal Research, LexisNexis or Westlaw?

Legal research is one of the most important skills attorneys possess. As a law student, you’ll start learning how to do legal research in your first year of school. One of your first lessons will be on using the two main search databases, Westlaw and LexisNexis. While there are differences between LexisNexis and Westlaw, they should produce the same results. The choice between the two will depend on your preferences, or which your firm uses.

Which Is Better For Legal Research, LexisNexis or Westlaw?

Getting Started on LexisNexis and Westlaw

LexisNexis and Westlaw are powerful tools for legal research. Not only do they help you find particular cases, but they can help lead you to other relevant law. One of the differences between LexisNexis and Westlaw is how you find those other relevant sources. On Westlaw, “Citing References” for a particular case or statute will take you to other decisions on the issue. On Lexis, “Citing Decisions” shows you those additional references.

Learning How to Search

One of the keys to becoming an effective legal researcher is mastering search terms. While this is a skill that will come with practice, there are important tools to use along the way called terms and connectors. No matter which database you normally use, you should be aware that specific terms and connectors are one of the differences between the two. The more you practice using terms and connectors, the more refined your search results will become.

Other Differences Between Westlaw and LexisNexis

Again, using Westlaw or LexisNexis is a matter of preference. However, only LexisNexis offers a rewards system using research points. Each day you using LexisNexis to search, you get ten points. There are other opportunities for points too, like watching short videos and answering questions about research techniques. Once you begin collecting points, you can redeem them for all sorts of items and gift cards.

Think Outside the Box

While both are powerful legal research tools, they’re not your only options. Sometimes, the most effective way to begin legal research is with a quick Google search. For state-specific research, some states maintain their own state-specific legal research sites that can provide insight into developments in state law. For particularly thorny issues or roadblocks, asking another attorney or peer can help you get unstuck.

During law school, you’ll develop fluency using Westlaw and LexisNexis to conduct legal research. While the subtle differences between the two may lead to prefer one over the other, both are effective tools.

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