Rare Free Offerings from the Behemoth(s)

Free content from legal publishing giants Lexis and Westlaw? It can\'t be
true... ahhh, grasshopper, but it can. Will it last, is the
real question. Interestingly, both Lexis
and Westlaw (legal
publishing
giants, each of whose parent companies have managed to
consolidate the majority of their competitors under their
respective umbrellas)
appear to be offering some free and/or more-accessible
options for use of their services. New post-modern
internet-age generosity, or a visionary agenda?? The
content
is somewhat limited, but users have the option of hopping
into the
full services for additional fees (something that was up
until recently not available at ALL without having an
expensive contract and passwords in place at your firm).

Lexis\' LexisONE
product, which launched this past July, allows free
access to selected caselaw and forms. Registration is
required, but a minimum of personal information is
requested. Searches are indeed free, though if content
beyond the \"free\" range (1996- for state caselaw) is
selected, users are prompted to enter a credit card number
for access. Users may also link into the full Lexis.com
service with the use of a credit card. Very very cool,
IMHO.

Westlaw\'s version of
the season of giving is to offer a f
ree
14-day trial
of the full (yes, full, as far as I\'ve been
able to tell) Westlaw.com product. Users must register,
entering name/address/phone etc., and the password is only
good for 14 days. Similarly very interesting.

Can anyone think of a reason why librarians shouldn\'t
promote these tools to our pro se patrons?? My sense is
that these two companies may have just knocked down a huge
wall for those \"non-affiliated\" patrons who don\'t otherwise
have access to the wealth of legal information tools that
attorneys/law students/law faculty have such ready access
to. Which would be a pretty cool thing.

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