Friday, October 12, 2007

Why a Search Engine Company Needs to Fix LexisNexis

Most of us, at this point, especially people my age and younger, take searching on the Internet for granted. We've grown up with the technology, we have little issue with freely posting information (damning or not) for the world to see and generally assumed that if we type in keywords into a box, we'll get the results we want.

If you go to law school, you'll be given access to the well-known legal research tool called Lexis-Nexis, which will remain your archaic friend for as long as you pursue a legal career. And within your first few minutes of training, you'll discover that Lexis-Nexis is a horrible search tool by today's technology standards. You have to memorize a list of archaic commands, commands that used to be second nature when you had to use the library computer to figure out where on particular book was located in the millions of stacks. But, you have to string the commands together just right in order to get the result you want, which takes practice and lots of trial and error. And that is assuming you have started your search in the correct category.

Needless to say, finding anything in Lexis-Nexis is a time-consuming, tedious task. But as it is the definitive research tool used by the legal profession, using it is a necessity. And since technology permeates so much of the world today, and as the legal staffs of technology companies continue to expand, I am surprised that none of them, not even search engine companies, have done anything to improve the search capabilities of Lexis-Nexis.

If you think about it, Lexis-Nexis is a treasure trove of information. Any case from anytime, anywhere, is in Lexis-Nexis. Legal definitions. Statues. Ordinances. Any legal document at all, can be found in Lexis-Nexis. Now isn't that a database worth creating useful search algorithms? Think of the hours (as in $$) that would be saved by legal departments and law students everywhere if Lexis-Nexis had the search smarts of Google, Yahoo or even MSN behind it, not to mention how much more 21st Century Lexis-Nexis would be.

Everyone is on the hunt to organize information, which usually involves trying to talk various groups of people into sharing information so it can be compiled and indexed in one spot. Why not start in an area that already has the information complied and indexed, and improve the indexing process? What good is a wealth of information in one place if you can't easily find anything?

1 comment:

onaolapo1 said...

Nice Article! Although I am not a lawyer, neither am I a law student but I stumbled upon the Lexis Nexis site while I was searching for information on Computers, I immediately discovered the sequence of information was not so organized but I think sooner or later, the administrators will do something about it.