What You Need To Know About Online Legal Research Tools
Over the last 25 years, there has been significant growth in the use of internet search engines. How many of us these days actually refer to a book to find anything out? On the whole, we pick up our phone, tablet or laptop and google the internet. In a similar vein, online legal research tools have been around for as long I can remember.
LexisNexis was the front-runner during my university days and offers online legal research. The group now owns the world’s largest electronic database for legal/business information and public records, risk management, market intelligence and business insight tools. Access is via paid subscription and it’s won several best business information solution awards.
The company is currently embarking an aggressive growth strategy and recently reported its intention to further increase its content and technology solutions offering by acquiring Jordan Publishing, a leading UK legal publisher, this year.
Thomson Reuters has several online sites which offer integrated legal solutions. With a $3.4bn revenue for its global online legal services, and shares are listed on the Toronto and New York Stock Exchanges, it’s one of the market leaders for online research. Its UK online legal research tools target every level and cater for professionals, business owners and researchers alike. All of its services are subscription-based and there are several packages aimed at business owners.
Practical Law delivers hands-on legal know-how and Westlaw UK provides legal research and authoritative commentary. Lawtel offers online precedents and covers legislation, cases and judgments, articles and media coverage. The main attraction of Lawtel is its’ same day coverage of cases and legal news in a straightforward and easy to use format.
On the plus side, the cost of using these online legal research tools should be less than employing a team of legal advisors to physically search out possible legal solutions. Equally your legal advisors will probably access these online legal research tools themselves when researching on your behalf.
However it’s worth remembering that with all online legal research tools, the devil is in the detail. As with all internet search results, it is the interpretation of your research which is key.
Lawyers have the technical knowledge and expertise to place your legal research in a specific context. They have first-hand experience of how to practically apply research into a commercial environment. They have stood in your shoes: they understand the nuances and possible range of consequences in taking a certain course of action.
Businesses should also think about some of the free online resources out there.
Twitter offers bite size chunks of advice and inspiration from key business influencers.
Online blogs are a practical (and free!) way to keep up to date with breaking legal news and business law issues. Law firms and legal procurement and comparison services – like ours – publish articles and blogs with legal insight, upcoming legislation and useful commentary.
Online tools can be a great way to optimise legal research for your business. But be cautious. A failure to weigh up the risks may increase your legal costs in the long run.
Article written by Rachel Furniss.
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