Whether you are BigLaw, MidLaw, or SmallLaw, the change that LexisNexis just made may have some significant effects on how you conduct legal research and plan your subscriptions for legal research services. LexisNexis is no longer offering “LexisNexis by Credit Card.” In order to access those legal research tools, you’ll need to sign up for a (long-term?) subscription to Lexis.

I talked to one subscriber last night who told me that her subscription that she uses for credit card access runs out at the end of the month, and “then I have to get a ‘subscription from sales’ or go to www.lexisweb.com.” The LexisWeb site is a minimalist version of legal information, and doesn’t contain the value-add products that a real LexisNexis site has. “The timing is suspect with its correlation with plunging market share; I think it’s a move to prevent firms from cancelling their subscription and just buying what they need.”

Many law firms have used the Credit Card option for LexisNexis in order to only buy “what they need” and will now have to re-evaluate that strategy. Other products, such as Fastcase, rely upon the credit card option for their users to access cite-checking resources such as Shepards. As of last night, the link to Shepards from Fastcase was still working, but I’m not sure if that will continue. If so, then it looks like all of those users will either have to sign up for Lexis, or will have to use KeyCite as their citation tool.

[UPDATE 8:50 CT] I emailed Ed Walters of Fastcase about this and he said that the change in LexisNexis by Credit Card, “Doesn’t matter much to our users: some have Lexis in their firms and can use Shepards under their firm subscription.  Those who don’t have Lexis passwords can just use KeyCite by credit card on Fastcase.” Ed says that the move may actually be a “Bigger deal for West.  For half a million Fastcase subscribers, KeyCite may have just become the #1 citator in America.”

Have you used LexisNexis by Credit Card? If so, how will this affect how you conduct legal research or your subscription strategies? Is this a good move by Lexis, or do you think it will end up biting them in the long run?

Here’s the announcement that Lexis had on the ending of the Credit Card site:

LexisNexis no longer offers the website LexisNexis® by Credit Card. This decision is part of our effort to create and support products that better meet those needs identified through collaboration with our customers, including tools that help our customers across markets to more efficiently find, assess and manage research findings.
LexisNexis continues to offer 10 years of free unenhanced federal and state case law via lexisONE, www.lexisone.com, our free open legal web service, via Lexis® Web at www.lexisweb.com and a wide variety of legal and business online communities at www.lexisnexis.com/communities which provide access to free up-to-date content and resources such as blogs, content, and news.
For continued access to convenient and affordable LexisNexis research content, please contact a representative at 888-285-3947 to learn more about LexisNexis subscription options.

  • This is not surprising. Credit card access enabled exactly the sort of a la carte licensing lawyers might want, and avoid full subscriptions to content they don't.

    What I wonder is why lawyers need to use Shepards or Keycite at all if they have access to Fastcase? Is there really a quality distinction between the updating services within LexisNexis and Westlaw and those in Fastcase, etc.?

    Or is it just a trust issue?

  • David,

    I would argue that there is a huge difference between what Shepards and KeyCite does, and what Fastcase does with its citator cross-reference system. But, you are probably right when you say that it really boils down to a 'trust issue', but that, in and of itself, is a huge deal.

  • I wrote about this last month when I received notice from Lexis. While it is not good news to small law firms and solos, there are workarounds.

    First. For those that do not have free access to online information retrieval services through a bar association, Fastcase is very affordable. LoisLaw offers a day pass for $40/day.

    Second. Any lawyer who does not Shepardize or use West's service is guilty of malpractice. A small law firm or solo may join Philadelphia's Jenkins Law Library (regardless of where s/he practices or is admitted) for $160/year. Membership entitles the lawyer unlimited access to Fastcase and 20 minutes of Lexis every 24 hours, just enough time to Shepardize a day's worth of legal research.

    IN THE LONG RUN, Lexis just shot itself in the foot. Google Scholar is getting better, at a very fast rate, and it is free. Moreover, Google's corporate philosophy is that access to legal materials should be free to anyone with an Internet connection. I wouldn't be surprised if those computer nerds (with their algorithms) developed a Shepard's substitute in the very near future.

  • I agree that Fastcase is good, but Google Scholar is quickly gaining ground even on Lexis and West. I just used Google Scholar to locate numerous cases from various jurisdictions at both federal and state levels. Google Scholar also contains links to law journals and reviews, some of which are premium (though you may subscribe to HeinOnline for a single day for about $30, which I have done a couple of times with excellent results). In addition, Google Scholar contains hyperlinks to other cases and "clipped," relevant citations to the case that you are viewing. Those "computer nerds" must have excellent legal research skills in addition to their programming prowess…!

  • Peter

    Has anyone had any experience with Casemaker's Casecheck Plus? I ma a Fastcase user now thinking about joining a state bar association (in a state not where I practice) just to get Casemaker and Casecheck Plus. Is it any good?

  • For those that do not have free access to online information retrieval services through a bar association
    While it is not good news to small law firms and solos