Friday, February 27, 2009

I'm a Westlaw Slut.

For those who are uninitiated into the magical world of legal research, there are two major players in the world of online legal databases: Westlaw and LexisNexis. They are what law students use when we can't find it on wikipedia  the source of free pizza at least twice a month basically they PubMed of the legal world.

Generally speaking, these two research engines have everything under the sun (except that one source you need for your journal cite check, obviously. That's in the microfiche): cases, ALR's, Black's, AmJur, assorted legal scholarship, etc, etc.* Moreover, they have all sorts of fabulous tools (Shepard's, Keycite) to make sure that you don't go off citing cases that will make opposing counsel point and laugh at you. As students, we have been given free online access to Westlaw and Lexis as part of the "perks" of law school.** Free actually means: "ha, ha, law school, you pick up the bill for once" but that's a story for another day.

In the real world, using Lexis and Westlaw can be very expensive, which is why every summer there's a horror story about a summer associate who wracked up thousands of dollars in Westlaw charges, and then had to go explain himself to a partner. At the end of the summer, when they pass out summer associate report cards, the firm will make him stand next to the girl who got too drunk at the firm mixer and vomited on the partner's wife. The moral of our legal research classes, in essence, is "don't be That Guy" when it comes to legal research.

Lexis and Westlaw, of course, would love for us all to be "That Guy," which is why they bribe us to use their services. Free points! Free food! Goodies every time you use our service! Look, there's candy in our sketchy van! There are points for quizzes and points for searches- you can do trainings for points and you can even do fun seasonal activities for points (Guess the jelly beans! How many seeds in the pumpkin?). We are constantly courted by the reps: isn't it pretty? Don't you looooove the nice keynotes? This BriefCheck looks terrific on you! Once you accrue enough points, you can buy all sorts of goodies. Internet, you know I am a fan of goodies.

Because I'm a sucker for compliments love free things don't like doing homework an equal opportunity kind of girl, I use both services quite a bit. My Westlaw points can buy the following:

Air mattress

Tent

Magic bullet

Digital Camera

Ugly purse

Hedge trimmer

Golf clubs

Knife block

ipod touch


I'm not one to neglect Lexis, of course: they'll be buying my Starbucks cards for a very long time to come.

 

I guess what I'm trying to say is: I'm not that kind of girl, unless of course you're passing out giftcards.

 

 


*If these things do not make sense to you, thank your lucky stars.
**Fact: Law school does not have perks. Law school has "less awful things."

2 comments:

adele said...

And now the Westlaw wedding nightmare makes sense. :P

I'm hoping to rack up enough points to get Le Creuset kitchenware by the time I graduate. I think I'm about halfway there.

JD Maybe said...

I really need to get on this Westlaw business. I had a bit of a security breach and had to change my blog. My indiscretion finally bit me in the ass, here is my new link...

http://jdmay-b.blogspot.com/

All rights reserved to my snotty and generally self-deprecating writing. And if your comments bother me, I'll delete them. That's right, pumpkin.
...How dreary—to be—Somebody!
How public—like a Frog—
To tell one's name—the livelong June—
To an admiring Bog!
-- Emily Dickinson