I suspect that most attorneys know this is a time for next generation legal research. Westlaw's new Westlaw Next product has been out for some time now and is a fabulous service that makes it much easier to find relevant authorities. The Westlaw Next app for the iPad was released in August of 2010, and it is a useful, well-designed app. At the same time, Lexis has been working on its next generation Lexis Advance product. Lexis has been releasing the product in stages. For example, in October of 2010, Lexis released Lexis Advance for Solos, a limited version of its next generation research product that was geared for — and only offered to — law firms with only one or two attorneys. Lexis also released a version of Lexis Advance for Solos for the iPhone in 2010, but unless you are a solo practitioner or in the smallest of law partnerships, you haven't been able to use the app.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with some of the folks at Lexis who are responsible for the upcoming Lexis product releases including Marty Kilmer (VP of New Lexis Strategy) and Clemens Ceipek (VP and Manging Director of New Lexis). Here are some details of what Lexis has in store for the iPad and iPhone.
The next major release of Lexis Advance was, until recently, called Lexis Advance for Associates. The "for Associates" part meant that not every feature of the original Lexis.com was going to be ready for the next generation platform, including some of the company research tools that are most useful for partners interested in client development, but the core research tools such as searching for and finding cases and Shepardizing would be ready. Because this type of legal research is how most associates use Lexis, the thinking was that the product would first be called "Lexis Advance for Associates" and then in the future as more features are added, the "for Associates" part could be dropped. But apparently, many attorneys — including me — were confused and frustrated by the "for Associates" designation. To be sure, many partners use Lexis for legal research. Thus, Lexis now plans to call the next release of its product simply "Lexis Advance." It still won't have every feature currently on Lexis.com, but those features will be added over time without changing the name.
Lexis recognizes that smartphone and tablet sales are now higher than desktop and laptop sales, so Lexis is very interested in releasing a top-notch product for the iPad and iPhone. The goal has been to create an iPad app that feels like an iPad app, emphasizing what attorneys are most likely to use in an app on a tablet device such as pulling up cases and Shepardizing cases while on the go, whether it be in a deposition, in court, etc. At initial release, the iPad app will not include every feature of Lexis Advance, but the key features will be there, such as research trails and the ability to store research results in work folders and annotate those documents. Lexis is still finishing up the iPad app and is not ready to disclose all of the upcoming features, but did agree to share this one screenshot with iPhone J.D. readers to give you a taste of what is coming. (Click the picture to enlarge.)
In addition to the Lexis Advance for Solos app that is currently on the App Store but can only be used by a limited group of attorneys, Lexis also currently has an app available for any attorney to use called LexisNexis Get Cases & Shepardize. I reviewed that app in late 2009 and, frankly, I was not impressed. Indeed, recently I've been having trouble getting that app to work at all. Fortunately, talking to the folks from Lexis this week gave me the impression that they are much more serious about Lexis Advance for the iPad. In addition to the 1.0 release that will come out soon, they are already working on features to be added later such as the ability to use the app when you don't have an online connection to Lexis (for example when you are in a courtroom without Wi-Fi or a good data signal), and the ability to share work folders between the website version of Lexis Advance and the iPad version.
Lexis was not able to give me a firm release date for the Lexis Advance iPad app or for the web version of Lexis Advance, except to say before the end of this year. A few weeks ago, Evan Koblentz of Law Technology News reported that Lexis Advance for iPad will be out October 15. The Lexis folks told me that this is incorrect; there is no specific release date for the app. It could be finished by Lexis and then approved by Apple next month, but it could be November or December. [UPDATE: I talked to Evan Koblentz about this, and he tells me that the October 15 date is the date that the current version of Lexis will work in the Safari browser on the iPad, not the date that the new Lexis Advance app will appear on the iPad. Now that I read his article again, I see that when I read his reference to the "flagship" Lexis product I thought he was referring to Lexis Advance. Sorry about misreading your article, Evan, and I look forward to trying out the regular Lexis.com on my iPad on October 15.]
Lexis is also working an a Lexis Advance for iPhone app. It will be an updated version of the current Lexis Advance for Solos iPhone app and will be a separate app from the Lexis Advance for iPad app.
Lexis is currently behind Westlaw with its great Westlaw Next product, but Lexis seems to be headed in the right direction. The Lexis folks pointed out to me that five years ago, nobody would have predicted the current popularity of iPhones and iPads. Lexis hopes that the work that they are doing now on Lexis Advance will meet not only the needs of attorneys today but also allow Lexis to continue to evolve to meet the needs of attorneys five years from now, even if we don't currently know what new technology we will be using then. I look forward to seeing the upcoming iPad and iPhone Lexis Advance apps, and I hope that they are great products that help attorneys make the most of their iOS devices.