Google-Bloomberg Tsunami Hits Lexis & Westlaw

Lexis & Westlaw, the long-time standard-bearers in online legal research, are now facing a Google-Bloomberg tsunami. Over the past several years, Lexis and Westlaw have both felt increasing competition from lower cost electronic legal research providers and from free government and public interest websites.  Now they are being hit hard by the emergence of two formidable competitors, Google and Bloomberg.

In November, Google began offering free access to all federal court opinions dating back to 1923 (Supreme Court opinions from 1791), state appellate court opinions back to 1950, and a range of law reviews and journals.  (See our previous post about Google here.)  Meanwhile, Bloomberg was already in the process of unveiling Bloomberg Law, which provides access to federal and state case and statutory law, case dockets, legal and business news and analysis, and a growing collection of secondary sources.  Along with its own citator (BCite), Bloomberg Law also introduces elements of web 2.0 to the research process.  Among other things, researchers can collaborate through shared “Workspaces,” and can annotate research results using a “Memo Pad.” Lexis and Westlaw appear primed to respond with their own new platforms:  Westlaw is debuting WestLawNext on February 1 and Lexis is expected to unveil its New Lexis product later this year. For additional details see this January 24, 2010 New York Times article.

Stay tuned for what are certain to be ongoing developments.