LexisNexis Competitive Overview
The legal side of LexisNexis provides industry information and analytics to law firms, their employees, law enforcement agencies, and businesses worldwide. Not only is the company’s massive legal database an indispensable tool for the legal community, they have also streamlined the research process to empower users of all kinds even more. Many LexisNexis competitors are trying to keep pace as well with features and benefits that also provide many advantages.
Legal research is often complex, which translates into the need for expensive resources. Remember when the size of a law school’s or firm’s legal library became a central selling point? With the advent of online research platforms, law firms and law schools transitioned from books to providing various online legal research tools.
Fortunately, there are a handful of LexisNexis competitors that offer similar tools and services, sometimes with a lower price tag. Here’s our review of the top LexisNexis competitors in the world.
The Largest LexisNexis Competitors
Known as one of the oldest competitors of LexisNexis, Westlaw debuted in 1975. Early online versions required dedicated terminals for dial-up modem lines. With the continued expansion of internet services, Westlaw now offers several levels of service, all with varying price points.
The company offers three legal research tools known as Essentials, Classic, and Edge. The primary differences are:
Westlaw Essentials is a “bare-bones” version designed to compete with the likes of Casetext, Casemaker, and Fastcase which are all detailed below. Rates start at $89 per month.
Westlaw Classic includes statutes and case law from a single state and its corresponding federal jurisdiction. Subscribers to this plan also receive secondary source state coverage that includes additional databases. Rates start at $248 per month.
Westlaw Edge, the company’s premier version, uses AI (Artificial Intelligence) for advanced legal research needs. The package also includes case and statute info for all states and federal jurisdictions. KeyCite (Westlaw’s answer to Shepard’s Citations) is available as an add-on feature in all plans. KeyCite Overruling Risk, a feature that flags overturned cases and bad law, is included in the Edge plan. Rates start at $396 per month.
Both LexisNexis and Westlaw offer plenty of bells and whistles. Westlaw offers the Key Number Outline, where access to LexisNexis headnotes requires input into the Topic Index.
Westlaw’s Key Number system debuted over 100 years ago. The Key Number System allows Westlaw editors to efficiently organize cases by topics and issues. Effectively using Westlaw’s Key Numbers allows users to more easily find topics.
Topics and Key Numbers can be used together when running an unrestricted Westlaw search which will reveal up to 10 possible Topics and Key Numbers that relate to the search term.
LexisNexis also features Wordwheel, which offers suggestions while typing. Westlaw recommends specific publications and will suggest relevant databases.
Reviewers give Westlaw a slight edge for extensive primary databases. Both services offer 24/7 live technical support for advanced subscriptions. Additionally, both are the only services that carry American Law Reports. Thomson Reuters owns Westlaw.
As with most legal research platforms, pricing varies. Prices start at $89 per month for solo practitioners, increasing with the number of attorneys. An online price quote may be higher than a rate quoted by a sales rep for the same plan. Comparing “apples to apples” is challenging when evaluating these tools.
As with any professional legal subscription plan, we recommend you speak with a sales representative to better understand the plans and their limitations.
Thomson Reuters/Practical Law
Offered as a “light” version of Westlaw, Thomson Reuters offers another service called Practical Law. Attorneys familiar with Practical Law say that it doesn’t provide the comprehensive services of his older sibling.
Practical Law offers several pricing plans, ranging from $150 monthly for a solo or small boutique firm to four-figures plus for mid to large law firms, corporate counsels, and government attorneys.
Features include practice notes, contract and agreement downloads, checklists for legal projects, automated documents, and matter maps.
Practical Law was originally developed as a resource for the European market, while Westlaw catered to American law. The combination of the two products is advantageous to lawyers and law firms with a global reach.
Known primarily as a business and financial research platform, Bloomberg branched out into the legal field in 2010. While the company touts itself as a direct competitor to LexisNexis, Bloomberg’s forte remains focused on providing business-oriented research.
Bloomberg Law is the only legal research platform to combine financial analysis with legal content. Law firms focusing on corporate work and corporate in-house legal teams may find Bloomberg law more appealing.
Interestingly, some reviews give Bloomberg Law a slight edge in search features, which the company has spared no expense in developing. Most industry insiders consider Bloomberg Law the third leg of the “big three” legal research companies, behind LexisNexis and Westlaw.
In 2019, Bloomberg altered its pricing plan, opting for a single platform dependent on the number of attorneys in each practice account. Moving forward, Bloomberg Law subscribers will receive access to all their legal browser research features.
While expensive, some users give Bloomberg credit for reverting back to a transparent pricing structure. Bloomberg doesn’t publish rates for their legal research plan online. However, several articles reference an annual price tag of $6k per attorney.
Affordability is the focus of Fastcase. Straightforward pricing, combined with a comprehensive law library, and free mobile app, appeal to solo and small law practices. The major downside is the lack of secondary sources.
Fastcase offers two plans. The more affordable option costs around $695 annually (when paid in full), or $65 per month, with the more advanced plan costing $995 per year, or $95 monthly. The major difference is the lower-cost option doesn’t include cases from federal or bankruptcy courts.
A more advanced subscription called the Enterprise Plan is also available. Contact the company through their website for pricing and details. Additionally, most U.S. bar associations offer a free version of Fastcase.
Fastcase plans include some secondary sources and offer access to law review articles through HeinOnline, a leader in secondary source databases. However, additional charges through HeinOnline may apply.
Hoping to maintain a steady future client base, most law schools provide access to legal research databases for a reduced price. Casetext excels in this area since the company offers its services to law school libraries at no cost.
Casetext is known for its user-friendly platform with advanced AI features. Casetext is short on analytical research tools and only offers PDF downloads. Secondary sources are not available with Casetext, so firms requiring secondary sources will need to find another alternative.
Graduating law school students receive a low, $65 flat rate (billed annually) when starting their law career, including unlimited database access. If users prefer paying monthly, the cost increases to $89 per month.
The crown for king of secondary resources belongs to HeinOnline. Law library collections from the U.S. Supreme Court, Federal Registry, Legal Classics, and others are available.
Contained in its vast collection of legal sources are early-edition law journals, along with U.S. treaties and international agreements. Keep in mind that HeinOnline doesn’t offer primary source databases, and the platform’s search function is basic at best.
Annual subscription plans for partial or unlimited access are available. HeinOnline pricing has remained elusive, so you will most likely have to call them in order to get pricing for your exact needs.
Another minor LexisNexis competitor is Wolters Kluwer, which offers legal research tools for most practice areas. A multi-billion dollar international company, Wolters Kluwer key business units focus on providing advanced technology solutions.
Released in 2015, Cheetah is the company’s research platform for lawyers. The Cheetah platform offers different legal specialties and the tools needed to perform in-depth research quickly and effectively.
Cheetah gives users access to in-depth expertise from WK attorney specialists, including news, webinars, blogs, and white papers. This Wolters Kluwer legal research tool is available for desktop and mobile devices.
Subscription rates for Wolters Kluwer legal research products and services aren’t published online, so you’ll need to call a customer service representative for assistance.
What Is the Best Legal Database?
Competition in the legal research industry remains stiff. LexisNexis still sits atop the hill. However, services offered by Westlaw match or exceed LexisNexis in some areas.
Costs of legal research platforms absorb a more significant percentage of solo and small law firms’ budgets than their larger neighbors. Few attorneys will argue against the price if the research obtained helps them win cases and keep clients though.
Determining which of the LexisNexis competitors have the best legal database for you or your legal practice often comes down to the size of the firm and the primary type of law practiced. Both of these factors will also affect a plan’s annual price tag.
Legal Transcription Services Are Also Important
Just as legal research companies work hard to maintain a competitive edge, so does Ditto Transcripts.
The fact remains that not all transcription services are alike. Ditto Transcripts takes pride in using U.S.-based, experienced legal transcriptionists who must undergo criminal background checks before starting work with us. In addition, Ditto Transcripts is CJIS and HIPAA compliant.
For a free trial and to speak with a real person, call us at (720) 287-3710 or visit our legal transcription services page.