Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Practice, practice, practice

practice makes perfect
Whoever thought practice makes perfect never worked in a law library.  I've been doing this legal research stuff for over 8 years now and I'm still learning something new everyday.  Everyday I have people coming into our law library asking all sorts of questions.  Everyday I have to be on my toes able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.  Everyday I have to deal with questions from Animal Rights to Corporations to Eminent Domain to Forclosures to Personal Injury to Zoning and at all times I have to look like I know what I'm doing all the time.  Well,...uh...actually that's not all that hard given that I'm an information god and all...but sometimes it's like walking on broken glass.

Anyway, back to the practice thing.  So, I've been on vacation for the last week and when I get back today I find that our law library purchased rights to use WestlawNext.  The problem is that for the last 8 years, I've been using Westlaw.  Now, Westlaw is awesome in its own right and is head and shoulders above the competition.  But as Will Rogers noted, "Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there."  So, here I am learning the intricacies of WestlawNext - the next generation of legal databases.  Thing is, WestlawNext is a significant step up from Westlaw and is infinitely easier and better than LexisNexis or...what do they call it...uh...Lexis Advanced?  Yeah, for the record, Lexis Advanced is not all that advanced or even that much better than Westlaw (which is simple web 1.0).  It's only advanced because Lexis had to come out with something and the best it could do was add the word "advanced" at the end of its old product (it's still the same old boring lexis with a different package job).

So, you want a quick demonstration on WestlawNext without being on WestlawNext?  Imagine sitting down to Google.com.  Now, type whatever it is you're looking for in the search field at the top of the screen.  Dog bite cases?  Foreclosure?  Breach of Contract?  Fraud?  Landlord Tenant?  Roe v. Wade?  Whatever your heart desires - type away and hit enter.  In mere seconds, the WestlawNext algorithm cranks out all possible results to your search and posts them to the left of the next screen.  You can then limit your searches based on whether you're looking for cases or codes or regulations or primary authorities or secondary authorities or whatever.  I mean, this thing is slicker than sliced bread!

Does your university or public law library have WestlawNext?  If your university or public law library doesn't have WestlawNext yet (and is merely hoping you won't notice that it is locked into a long term contract with Lexis - which by all things legal is a sorry excuse for a legal database), stand up and demand that they get WestlawNext post haste.  Faster than a speeding bullet, WestlawNext will do what you've always hoped a legal database could do but was unable to do because, well,...all you had was a second string legal database that wished it had the power of WestlawNext.  Yeah, baby - it is that good!