Legal Research Software
Legal Research Software Overview
What is Legal Research Software?
Legal research software helps law firms find useful information for building cases and drafting documents. Software vendors offer access to searchable databases of legal documents. They may also provide analytical tools to help interpret search results.
The existing body of legal documentation is large and can be difficult to navigate. Adequately preparing to argue a case or advise a client requires extensive research. Using legal research software can reduce research times for attorneys. Supplemental tools help attorneys evaluate the strength of their case or plan their court strategy.
Vendors actively curate and update their databases to include new decisions, overturned cases, and other changes to existing law.
Legal Research Software Features & Capabilities
Most vendors offering legal research software include:
Access to databases of legal information
Active database curation to keep information relevant
Relevant articles and analysis from newspapers and journals
Updates on current events and changes to the legal landscape
Research support teams to assist users with searches
Some software includes additional tools to supplement and interpret the information in the vendor’s database. These tools add features such as:
Analysis of public records to find information on companies, people, and assets
Validation of citations to ensure that cited decisions are still considered good law
Infographics showing relationships between cases relevant to a search
Assisted document drafting
Analytics for specific judges, firms, and case types
The price for legal research software varies depending on the number of users and the features included. Most vendors use a monthly subscription plan. Per-month costs range from $50 per month to over $600 per month.
Some vendors also offer pay-as-you-go plans, charging per minute used or per document viewed. Vendors may also charge extra fees to view documents outside the scope of a subscription. For instance, some subscriptions only include legal documents from a particular state or region.
Legal Research Products
Westlaw, now supported by Thomson Reuters is a legal research software and database, emphasizing access to a breadth of case law.
LexisNexis supports legal research with Quicklaw, its Canadian legal research database acquired in 2002.
Thomson Reuters offers Practical Law, a research assistance tool containing up-to-date legal intelligence decisions, aimed at providing strategic advantage to legal teams.
Legal software specialist Aderant offers Handshake, the company's Sharepoint compatible knowledge management platform specifically for law firms featuring access via intranet and extranet portals and an enterprise search tool for locating documentation and expertise, and general KM analytics.
LegalZoom Business Advisory Plan is a legal service offering for small businesses.
Walters Klower offers Clarion as a legal research aid, an application dedicated to supporting due diligence and information of use to understanding mergers and business relationships, and client advisement assistance by providing information locating and understanding potential acquisitions.
Lexis Advance from LexisNexis is an online legal research database providing access as well as commentary to an extensive library of legal resources, Shepard's Citation System, smart content discovery with Lexis Answers machine learning search and answer system, among other features.
Lexis Search Advantage is a document search and indexing application; platform agnostic, Lexis Search Advantage is meant to integrate with a firm's document management system to make internal knowledge and relevant documents more accessible.