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.