I had planned on writing an extensive review on the new release of LexisNexis’ “Lexis Advance” platform like I did back in March on their Advance for Associates platform. However, Bob Ambrogi did such a great job of it over at his LawSites blog, that I really didn’t want to re-hash what Bob already covered.

Last week, I got a preview of the product and what I wanted to focus on was a couple of things that I think Lexis got right, or at least is moving in the right direction on in the ways to release big products without shoving the release down the throats of their customers and the future of searching massive amounts of data.

Enticing Customers into New Product

First of all, the new platform is not being sold as a “modest premium” product. Instead, Lexis is enticing customers to move over to this product as part of their existing contract (a contract addendum will need to be signed), with the expectations that once they’ve been exposed to the new features, they will become more comfortable with Advance and will migrate themselves off of the Lexis.com product. In other words, they are trusting the customer to make the decision to move when they are ready, rather than attempting to push the customer into the new platform through high-pressure sales and hinting that staying with the old platform is somehow akin to malpractice as we have seen with other big launches.

Lexis is also working with the customer to roll out the new platform in a way that doesn’t just throw everyone in the deep end of the pool and asks them to learn to swim. Lexis is offering extensive training for the individual firms before they roll out the product to the users of the firm, and Lexis will also work with the firms to make the transition a little more seamless, especially if the firms have established “bill back” procedures, so that firms aren’t scrambling to create new processes to fit the new platform. In the novel approach, Lexis is making the new product fit the firm’s existing processes.

Handling Big Data and using Data Analytics Through HPCC

A little over a year ago, LexisNexis announced that it was splitting into a Risk and Legal division, and I think we are seeing one of the first success stories coming out of this split with the integration of the High-Performance Cluster Computing (HPCC) analytics tool into the legal platform. Lexis Advance is applying the work that HPCC has performed on the Public Records side of the Lexis house, and create a method for identifying entities automatically in the legal content. For example, lawyers and law firms are now automatically identified and an additional 80 million links now exist for an estimated one million lawyers and 60 million new links for law firms. The HPCC process isn’t like the old “best guess” method used in the past, however. It is extremely accurate and creates a potential for achieving what one of my favorite “Big Data Thinkers”, Jeff Jonas of IBM, calls the process where a system is created “where the data finds the data, and the relevance finds the consumer.” Through the establishment of Enterprise Control Language (ECL), no longer does Lexis need to create distinct databases and tables for specific information like attorney names, judges, law firms, etc. The ECL process will now organize this on the fly and in a way that produces a faster update for the new content Lexis ads, plus a faster search process for the consumer.

For a geek like me, the HPCC integration will lead to much more relevant ways of the data finding data [PDF] and relevance finding the customer than just on proper nouns. At this time, I’m not sure even Lexis realizes all the potential that can be accomplished in the HPCC platform. With all of the data at the fingertips of Lexis’ parent company (Reed Elsevier), just think of the possibilities of adding in news, science, technology, and other seemingly unrelated data clusters and allowing the data to discover each other.

Lexis Advance Fact Sheet

For those that didn’t go over to Bob Ambrogi’s review (you should), here is a quick fact sheet on Lexis Advance

Further information and videos about Lexis Advance are available at: www.lexisnexis.com/newlexis/advance/

Launch: December 2011

What: Lexis Advance is an innovative, all-new online legal research solution from LexisNexis that promises to transform how legal professionals conduct research.

Why: LexisNexis developed Lexis Advance with input and participation by more than 36,000 lawyers, law librarians and other legal professionals to create a solution that meets their specific needs in today’s dynamic legal sector.

Users: Lexis Advance is primarily targeted for use by professionals within a law firm, corporation or public institution who conduct the majority of legal research for their organization.

What’s Different Now: LexisNexis launched Lexis Advance for Solos in 2010 and Lexis Advance for Law Schools BETA earlier in 2011. These two solutions were specifically built with and for small law and law students respectively.
The Lexis Advance product launched Dec. 5 builds on those products and introduces new features and innovations specifically designed for researchers in law firms, corporations, government and academic institutions.
LexisNexis announced in March 2011 that this product would be given the name Lexis Advance for Associates. After continued dialog and interaction with customers, it became clear that other legal professionals beyond associates would use the product. Therefore, based on customer input, LexisNexis shortened the name to Lexis Advance for release.

Key Features: Lexis Advance contains innovative new features desired by legal researchers:

  • Integrated results from the open Web: Users can search the open Web along with premium content from the LexisNexis® services simultaneously in one step. 
  • Workplace Carousel: A visual and intuitive carousel interface that allows the user to store search history, save recent and favorite filters, access work folders, set up alerts and access customer service. 
  • Legal Issue Trail: LexisNexis intelligence helps users find and cite connections between cases that may not be obvious – ensuring that research is complete.

Mobile: Users can access Lexis Advance on the go via mobile browser or through native Apple® iPhone® and iPad® applications.

Premium Innovations: Lexis Advance also includes two premium innovations:

  • Research Map: A graphical depiction of prior research history that quickly helps a user visualize searches while validating the completeness of search results.
  • Shepard’s® Graphical: Shows the history of citing decisions in an easy visual grid or map format so users can quickly ensure they can identify valid law versus what has been overruled.

User Benefits: Lexis Advance helps legal researchers find the right information faster, uncover and assess key insights more efficiently and managed their results with ease. These gains in speed, efficiency and relevance translate into the ability to create better outcomes for a professional’s firm, company or client.

Content: Content available through Lexis Advance corresponds to a customer’s lexis.com subscription. For many customers, this includes:

  • Comprehensive and fully enhanced primary law from all states 
  • News – top titles from the most comprehensive collection of news sources in the industry. 
  • Matthew Bender – a wide range of industry-leading treatises and expert legal analysis. 
  • Jury verdicts, briefs, pleadings and motions 
  • LexisNexis CourtLink content 
  • Expert witness transcripts, depositions, and curricula vitae

Pricing: Customers with a subscription to lexis.com will be able to access and use the core functionality of Lexis Advance and the two new premium innovations – Research Map and Shepard’s Graphical – at no additional cost for the life of their contract.
Subscribers can always search all content on Lexis Advance at no additional charge, even if the content searched is not part of their subscription plan. Before accessing a document outside their subscription, Lexis Advance shows a free preview of the document and its actual price prior to ordering. Over time, LexisNexis will develop more premium innovations that build on the Lexis Advance core functionality that customers can add to their service for an additional cost.

Roll Out Schedule: Lexis Advance launches starting Dec. 5, 2011 with initial customer activations are being scheduled from December through February with LexisNexis sales teams already working with customers to set up appropriate dates for activation.

lexis.com: lexis.com continues and is not changed as a result of the launch of Lexis Advance

PC/Mac: Lexis Advance will work on both PC and Mac computers.

What’s Next: LexisNexis will announce further innovations in the first quarter of 2012.