WestlawNext was recently introduced to a Chicago audience at a gala breakfast presentation here in Chicago. A key point the speaker made was that a detailed examination and analysis of user behaviors, in addition to user interviews, had been employed in redesigning the Westlaw interface and search engine. Such a customer focus seems to have provided opportunities for significant improvements and enhancements to the online legal research process.
While the interface has been significantly simplified, the search engine behind it has powerful under-the-hood algorithms at work. In the words of the WestlawNext brochure, "The key is how we integrate intelligent information from analysis of each case by West attorney-editors, together with research history on the cases most cited, printed, and linked to, for your issue ..."
How well this may work in practice is evaluated by lawyer and blogger, Robert Ambrogi, in an article in the current issue of Law Technology News, "A Great Leap Forward". He examines many of the new features and comes up with a very positive assessment. "...WestlawNext is elegant, agile, easy to use, more precise, truly intelligent and intuitive. But behind the scenes, it has remarkably complex and powerful technology."
Not much has been disclosed about pricing for the new interface. While Mr. Ambrogi's review indicated greater efficiencies with WestlawNext, it may take additional information gathering over time, to objectively assess ROI. Will there be a beneficial trade off between the new premium pricing and the increased efficiency of the new product ? The economics are important since a more affordable traditional Westlaw is still available and a new product from competitor, LexisNexis, is just around the corner.
( Actual market place deployment of WestlawNext, should be sometime this year. )