The Lexis® HD Mobile Legal Research App from LexisNexis
The Mobile Surge
Mobile applications for legal research are rapidly becoming as ubiquitous as the smart devices on which they run. For traditional vendors of legal research technology, the race is on to capture the attention and the screens of today’s mobile lawyers.
The Web version of Lexis has certainly won its share of accolades, but can its award-winning functionality be replicated on the small screen?
With a clean, streamlined interface, Lexis HD is optimized for the modern mobile experience. From access to primary and secondary legal sources to document editing directly within the app itself, Lexis HD is a powerful entry in the company’s suite of products.
Review of Lexis HD
Lexis HD is the mobile app version of RELX Group’s flagship legal research platform, Lexis. Designed to offer much of the same lauded functionality of the Web-based version, it is currently available for the Apple® iPad®. (There is a different app, just called Lexis, available for the iPhone®.) A free download from the iTunes Store®, it works in both online and offline modes. Though the offline mode offers less functionality than when the app is connected to the Internet, Lexis HD is designed to assist users in taking legal research on the road.
Ease of Use
Upon launch, the Lexis HD app presents users with a clean interface and two simple choices. Users can sign in using their existing Lexis credentials or they can choose to work offline. By signing in, one is given access to the LexisNexis® content universe for searching and browsing. The offline functionality only works if the user has saved documents and chosen to make them available for offline reading and editing. Actual searching requires the user be logged in. It is really fairly intuitive at this early stage.
After signing in, things get a little more complex, but not so much so that the intuitive feel of the interface is lost. In fact, once a user starts playing around with Lexis HD, it becomes rather straightforward. They should prepare to do a lot of swiping, mind you.
Not everything that is available on the Web version of Lexis is available via the mobile app, and, of course, the user’s subscription dictates access to what is available. Lexis HD is designed to give lawyers and researchers what they are likely to need most while on the go.
The number of sources, over 19,000, includes primary and secondary legal materials, news (which appears to be the largest single source category), scientific materials, forms, dockets, jury instructions and more. When it comes to browsing and narrowing these materials, multiple source groups within the same category can be selected.
The search functionality of Lexis HD is really quite outstanding. When users start typing terms in the search box, the app will begin predicting the terms and sources the searcher may want to include in a handy pull down. For instance, typing “statute” presents legal phrases such as “statute of limitations” and “long arm statute” among others. Sources such as state statute collections are also included in the list. It is just a matter of users clicking the phrases or sources they want included.
Results Presentation and Delivery
The results presented include everything one might expect of the LexisNexis experience—the status flags, parallel and linked citations, and even term browsing. Results can be viewed as a side list with full view in the main window or singularly in a full-screen format. Headnotes, footnotes, summaries, core terms and prior history are all right there with applicable hyperlinks. Cases and statutes can be Shepardized™ directly from the viewing pane as well.
Accessing Lexis HD requires a Lexis subscription. A Lexis user ID and password is necessary for conducting any kind of research with it. Accordingly, the materials presented as being in- and out-of-plan are governed by that subscription. Institutional users will be bound by the contracts of their firms and organizations. The out-of-plan listings are particularly helpful for those looking to keep their research cost-effective! With the exception of setting favorite topics and sources, however, the app functions powerfully and robustly all on its own.
Continuity Between Site and App
There is quite a bit of interplay between the Lexis site and its accompanying mobile app. As mentioned above, users have to use the actual site to set favorite sources and topics. The same is true of creating alerts.
Usage Reporting and Billing
One final area of importance for most users, especially those in law firms, is the question of how using the mobile app factors into usage reporting and billing. This is fairly straightforward. Usage of the Lexis HD app is reported along with the charges incurred on the site. Billing is the same whether users accessed the content from their desktop browsers or mobile devices. The charges do not differ. Just as users are asked to set a client billing number while on the site, the same prompts appear within the app. Here again, the interplay between the two platforms is pleasantly seamless.
In a market that is becoming quickly saturated with application possibilities and alternatives, the challenge for vendors like LexisNexis is to create a tool that truly distinguishes itself from the rest.
Success in this market seems to hinge as much on practicality as it does on functionality. Fortunately, Lexis HD packs a healthy dose of each. The information a user needs most is a few taps away and the functionality to make it useful on the fly and when not connected to the Internet is powerfully evident.
Get your hands on the award-winning Lexis® mobile app that was identified by eWEEK and the Consumer Electronics Association as the only innovative mobile app designed to support job efficiency for lawyers. Please note you must have a current Lexis subscription and valid ID/password to utilize this app.
To download the full FreePint Lexis HD app review, which includes illustrative screenshots, click here (PDF).