Lexis+ Review: Initial Impressions
Lexis recently upgraded its Lexis Advance legal research platform by tweaking the visual interface and by adding a few substantive tools to its platform. Lexis+ acts more like a quality of life update rather than a revolutionary overhaul, which is a welcome improvement to its current user base but so overwhelming to alienate fans of the older platform.
(For fans of dark mode, Lexis+ has updated their landing page to be sleeker.)
Lexis+ will be a phased and optional roll out for law firms later this fall. Law students automatically receive access to the platform beginning this month. Since Lexis+ will be the first interface for incoming 1Ls, legal research instructors should make some contingencies for somehow still using Lexis Advance as it may be very possible that law students could work with recalcitrant law firms refusing to make the switch.
One new addition to the landing page is the quick tabs on the left, which allow you to quickly access the practical guidance and brief analysis sections. Practical guidance results are also included in the search results if you select the “legal research” option
(New sidebar dock for quick access to the Legal Research, Practical Guidance, and Brief Analysis tools.)
Another feature is the “missing” and “must include” term search in the results list. By clicking the “must include” term, it re-runs your search to require that specific term in the results. This tool was somewhat useful, as it helps visualize key terms in the context of your search results.
(‘Missing’ and ‘Must Include’ features.)
One great feature (for law schools) is the new graphical display, which visualizes how operators and terms affect your search. This is a great way to demonstrate Boolean searches for legal research classes. The tool can also visualize Boolean search issues, for example, typos will be easier to spot given the document counts. You can also hover your cursor to view specific sequences in the Boolean search.
(Lexis+ graphical search query display.)
Lexis is also introducing Shepard’s at Risk, which appears to work just like Westlaw’s Overruling Risk indicator. One difference is that the At Risk cases pop up within the case itself, allowing you to quickly determine whether the At Risk symbol effects the reasoning for your case, which is a simple but effective quality of life improvement over its competitor.
(Shepard’s At Risk.)
Lexis+ also released their Brief Analyzer, playing catch up to other major legal research databases like Bloomberg and Westlaw. One unique aspect of Lexis+ Brief Analyzer is pulling in similar briefs based on the analysis, a valuable resource for smaller firms without expansive brief banks and newer attorneys looking for sample language and arguments.
To test its capability, I used a redacted motion for summary judgment. There were a few hiccups likely due to the optical character recognition (OCR) and the formatting of my PDF. However, the organization of the case recommendations was clean, and the case recommendations were extensive but not overwhelming.
(Lexis+ Brief Analyzer’s dashboard.)
(Recommendations appear next to the sections in your brief.)
Overall, the visual tweaks, search tool enhancements, and results visualization have elevated Lexis+ to finally match its competitors’ offerings. While Lexis+ has narrowed the gap, only time will tell whether these improvements can convince users to make the switch. The underlying theme of this update however is to make the improvements demanded by its user base, but not so revolutionary to alienate new users. I enjoyed my experience with the new platform and look forward to what the future holds for legal research.