I don’t often occupy that position, but I apparently do on this issue. Stanford University conducted a survey of law librarians and found respondents generally prefer Westlaw to LexisNexis as a research tool. Not surprisingly, Thomson Reuters proudly trumpets the results on its own blog. Evenso, the numbers are interesting:
Law school respondents preferred Westlaw at a rate of nearly four-to-one
78% of federal court/government respondents preferred Westlaw
60% of the law firm respondents preferred Westlaw
Of course, this is Thomson’s summary of the results. You can read them for yourself here.
My shorthand response to the Westlaw vs. LexisNexis debate traditionally has been that Westlaw has the edge on case law and legal research, while LexisNexis has the edge on newspapers, periodicals and other publications. I think these differences have been collapsing over the years. The ultimate winner of this debate will be the one who packages the information (the same information, mind you) in a manner that is easier to locate, assimilate and manipulate. I always found Westlaw easier to use but that may have owed more to my first Westlaw representative than to any other factor.
And when the free online resources for this essentially public information improve their interfaces and accessibility, watch out Big Two!