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Dear Lyo, Conrad, and everyone else:

At the risk of being peskily self-promoting, I will first beg your
collective pardons, and then ask for your comments on a brief piece that
I wrote for Mirela Roznovschi’s GlobaLex, wherein I attempt to bring
my poorly articulated version of the very useful considerations that Lyo
presents below to the scrutiny of databases that provide (or purport to
provide) access to legal material from Spanish-language jurisdictions. 
You can find that piece here:
http://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/Databases_Spanish-Speaking_Jurisdictions.htm#_B._Evaluation-related_Threshold_Iss

In short, I agree with Conrad’s criticisms of LEXIS’ and
WESTLAW’s offerings, but I am more critical of WESTLAW’s
offerings because I know that they have copyright in much more useful
material than they have made available online.  LEXIS, at the least,
does offer material from one of Henry Dahl’s English-Spanish
dictionaries; a work that may not rise to meet all of Conrad’s
reasonable expectations, but does, at least to me, seem to provide much
better (and more context-aware) access than most competing products. 
But West’s inability to bring Vargas’ Mexican Law Dictionary to
WESTLAW still baffles me.  Apparently they (both) have better audiences
to serve.  Oh well.  

I kind of really like the vLex material (and their interface) as an
alternative to LEXIS or WESTLAW, but I can’t honestly speak to their
pricing structure.  My guess is that at least someone from all of these
vendors is on this list, but my experience has been that all vendors
tend to hold pricing information rather close to the chest.  To that
end, we probably need someone on Int-Law to reproduce Ken Svengalis’
Legal Information Buyers’ Guide, tautly focused to the international
practitioner and researcher.  And I was going to put a cute little joke
in here, but on third thought, I think I’ll leave that statement at
that.  

But more seriously, to address Conrad’s excellent cost-benefit
analysis question, it’s hard for me to think of something that tops
GLIN.  Not because it’s easier to use, and not because it provides the
most access (because although they try very hard, it isn’t immediately
easy to use, and it just can’t provide more access than is donated),
but because it costs nothing, and is quite comprehensive given that
cost.  

But that’s just me talking.  And I know that both the little pinkie
fingers of Lyo and Conrad know more about this subject than I’ve
stored in vast, empty spaces of my brain.  But I think these are
excellent questions, and I hope these emails will spur the conversation
that so many of us are clearly eager for, about databases and reference
tools for providing access to the legal information of the world.  



Chau,

dkp




Dennis Kim-Prieto, J.D., M.S.L.I.S., M.F.A.

Reference Librarian
Rutgers School of Law -- Newark
123 Washington Street
Newark, NJ 07102

(v)++973.353.3037
(f)++973.353.1574

*****************************************************
Member, Copyright Committee
American Association of Law Libraries



>>> Lyonette Louis-Jacques <[log in to unmask]> 2/7/2008 12:52 PM
>>>
There's a research article here, Coen, so I'll just point out some
things 
I've thought of re this comparison over the years.  First, agreed that

LexisNexis does not equal WESTLAW (one of the many, many reasons why I
had 
the term that has been used in discussion groups for more than a decade

now and made its unfortunate way into the literature - it start with
"We" 
and ends in "xis" - I hate seeing the term).  But I digress...

Here are some considerations when comparing the two databases:

1.  User preference (this is huge - users might be more comfortable
using 
Westlaw over LexisNexis and just never think to look in the other 
databases for FCIL materials, and even avoid the database if it has the

resource they need.  Users can decide they don't need the resource that

badly;

2.  Uniqueness of FCIL content;

3.  Added value (e-mail alerts, blogs, saved searches for updating,
etc.);

4.  Volatility of FCIL content (foreign, comparative, and international

law databases get added and removed);

5.  Strength of FCIL content (is one database deeper and more 
comprehensive than the other in terms of foreign primary law, 
international tribunal decisions, treaties, and FCIL-related
journals?);

6.  Importance/relevance to user of database contents;

7.  Alternative sources of content besides LexisNexis and WESTLAW;

8.  Relative costs.

And a general question as to whether or not the two databases are 
responsive to how today's user does international legal research.

Good luck!

MvG,
Lyo.

On Thu, 7 Feb 2008, Conrad van Laer wrote:

> dear colleagues,
>
> Where it comes to foreign or comparative law research, IÆm in serious
doubt
> whether LexisNexis Total Research System or Westlaw International has
to be
> preferred.
>
> Both the LexisNexis Total Research System and Westlaw International
provide
> European Union cases and legislation. Apart from this, some
differences may
> be identified. Westlaw provides databases for fewer countries, but it
seems
> that the Westlaw interface is more user-friendly. Concerning Lexis,
> precision and recall of search actions have been appreciated, as well
as
> its direct access to the full text of its e-journals.
>
> What is your cost-benefit-analysis?
> Thanks in advance,
> Conrad
>
> CJP van Laer PhD
> Law librarian
>
> Maastricht University
> University Library
> PO Box 616
> 6200 MD Maastricht
> the Netherlands
>
> Telephone + 31 43 3885110
> Telefax + 31 43 3884888
> e-mail [log in to unmask] 
> http://www.linkedin.com/pub/4/510/342 
>
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