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BLAWg In Bloom

The Indiana Law Library Blog

Legal Search Engines

According to Hitwise, Google accounts for as much as seventy percent of online searching. Google is growing constantly, but there are other search engines out there—some from bigger companies like Yahoo! and Microsoft, and also startups like Cuil.

Recently, though, some legal publishers have started branching out into the world of search engines. Both West and Lexis now offer search engines with a legal focus—Westlaw WebPlus and Lexis Web. The West product seems to require a Westlaw account, but the Lexis product looks to be free for the moment at least.

It is becoming more and more common to see people do legal research using only Google (with mixed results), so it is interesting to see that major legal publishing companies are trying to follow that trend. Both these products have one search box, for example, which is one of the reasons that people love Google. The Lexis and West products don’t just search case law and other specialized legal products, they search the web. They do, however, seem to be a lot more selective than Google, and their add-ons have a legal focus—for example, Lexis Web lets you narrow your results by legal topic, and Westlaw WebPlus produces a tag cloud of important terminology it found in your search.

If you are using Google for a lot of legal research, why not check out these new products to see how they work? Google is a great resource in a lot of ways, but it is always nice to use something that was designed specifically for legal research.

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