Monday, March 7, 2011

Who can afford WestlawNext?

Ronald E. Wheeler, Jr. of the University of San Francisco School of Law has posted an article entitled "Does WestlawNext Really Change Everything: The Implications of WestlawNext on Legal Research." The entire article is worth a read, but a key point is this one:
WestlawNext charges researchers $60 per search, and additional searches to focus or locate within the original search result also cost $60. . . . WestlawNext charges approximately $15 for each document opened within a search result.
The truly unfortunate thing is to suppose the use of WestlawNext or any other search engine constitutes research. But it also is unfortunate that law students have the use of WestlawNext for free. To use it instead of using the entire range of research resources is to become dependent on a service that one's clients will not be able to afford. And one will not be competent in the use of the resources that clients can afford.

It's interesting too, I think, that I don't use WestlawNext (despite the fact it is free to me too for educational purposes). I'd far prefer to delve into an area through secondary sources and annotated statutes, and I know where to find those (both online and off).

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