Monday, February 1, 2010

Something Useful From LexisNexis

At LegalTech in New York today, the world was introduced to LexisNexis for Microsoft Office. In an attempt to jump in on the "single search box" inside Microsoft Office applications, and the enterprise search wagon, LexisNexis may have just stumbled on something that will keep it in the game a little longer. The following is taken directly from their material:

How it Works

While reviewing a Word document or an Outlook e-mail message, Lexis for Microsoft Office users can seamlessly access content and resources from LexisNexis, the open Web, or their law firm or corporate files. Key features include:

"Search" - A single search box that delivers one-click access to the vast collection of legal content from LexisNexis, the open Web and the user's internal company information database. Results from all sources are displayed in a window next to the active document.

"Background" - This function provides background information on "entities" such as people, companies, organizations and cases mentioned in the text of a Word document or Outlook message. It automatically indexes the working document with hyperlinks to relevant information from internal, LexisNexis and Web resources. Upon clicking the hyperlink, the information is displayed in a side pane within the Microsoft Office applications. The Background feature will also display full Shepard's® reports and apply Shepard's® SignalTM indicators directly to the cases cited within the text of the document. Full text versions of case law, news and information cited within an e-mail message or Word document can also be accessed through the® resources directly within the Microsoft software application.

"Suggest" - Similar to the Background function, this functionality interacts with any text in a Word document or Outlook message. By manually highlighting text, the user can prompt a search that will pull up relevant information from internal, LexisNexis and Web resources. The content is displayed in a side pane within the application.

The critical factor in all of this of course (and where LexisNexis typically stumbles) is....cost and pricing models. We'll wait to see what the strategy is across the globe with this, while also being interested to see what actual search technology is behind the scenes.

This will either be seen as a useful addition, or yet another search tool fighting for the attention of the firm's wallets. The product ships for Microsoft 2007 later in the year and is only available to those with LexisNexis subscriptions.

What it isn't though is innovative - remembering that other search engines who focused on the lawyer experience and knowledge related working practices within law firms (such as Recommind and Autonomy) have embedded single search boxes with Microsoft Word for a number of years. The difference is that subscription services historically made it difficult for firms and vendors to access their content.

Looks good - and can

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