What’s in an Answer on Westlaw and Lexis Advance?

Following, albeit rather slowly on the heels of Westlaw Answers which launched in February 2016, Lexis recently released Lexis Answers. Both are designed to help the legal researcher get quick answers to simple legal questions.

Specifically, Westlaw Answers provides:

  • Specific answers to common types of legal questions.
  • Links to authoritative court decisions.
  • Questions appearing in type-ahead display, with the answers shown above the search results.

Lexis Answers provides:

  • Ability to start typing
  • Ability to start typing a query in the Lexis Advance Red Search Box — you can begin in question form (e.g. “What is …”) but it’s not necessary.
  • Suggested questions as you type and can select and go to the answer.
  • Two types of results: Lexis Answers Card with a concise answer from an authoritative source such as a legal dictionary or case law along with links to go directly to the precise answer passage in the source or to explore topical links to related concepts.
  • Comprehensive search results from all Lexis Advance content.

The main differences between the two is in the display of results upon selecting the desired question.

In Westlaw Answers, the suggested question the researcher selects determines the content set of the result list that displays (i.e. cases where a term is defined, statutes/courts rules, regulations, administrative decisions or secondary sources that cover the concept) with no option to explore the larger universe of Westlaw content unless the same search is repeated.

 

Lexis Answers on the other hand is less cumbersome in that it offers both the answer and the ability to filter and select the additional content sets (i.e. statues, administrative  materials, secondary materials etc,) discussing the concept in a single results display screen.

The Answers feature is a great addition for both providers. However, in a head to head comparison, Lexis Answers wins on the results display side of things by saving the researcher time by allowing for ease and quickness in exploring a legal concept more fully.

About Cheryl Niemeier

Cheryl Niemeier is Director of Knowledge & Research Services at Bose McKinney & Evans LLP. Ms. Niemeier received her Master of Science in Library Science from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana in 1986 and her Bachelor of Science in Education from Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana in 1981. Ms. Niemeier has held multiple professional leadership positions in local, regional and national library associations. She frequently speaks at professional association conferences and continuing legal education seminars. Ms. Niemeier has authored multiple articles and seminar publications.
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2 Responses to What’s in an Answer on Westlaw and Lexis Advance?

  1. Hi Cheryl, thanks for doing the comparison of Westlaw Answers and Lexis Answers. A quick comment to clarify the functionality available on Lexis Answers. This feature covers several different types of common legal questions including definitions, doctrines, elements of, standard of review, and burden of proof. And with Lexis Answers, you can conveniently include a jurisdiction in your question to get relevant results faster, such as “What are the elements of res judicata in NY?”.

    I do work for LexisNexis on Lexis Answers, so I am little biased, but very proud to be a part of a talented multidisciplinary team working with advanced cognitive computing technologies to improve legal research.

    • Cheryl Niemeier says:

      Thank-you Michael for your comment clarifying the expanded capability of the Lexis Answers feature.

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