Jinfo BlogProduct Report: CODiE Finalists: Best Legal Information Product

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By Robin Neidorf

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Abstract

The CODiE Award for Best Legal Information Product saw four very different legal products gain finalist status, each demonstrating particular strengths for discrete areas of information work. FreePint reviewers put each of the finalists to the test: IA Watch, Lexis Advance, Web Preserver and Workshare. There's only one winner but all offer significant benefits to legal information professionals.

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The legal industry represents a kind of information product paradox. It is one of the few industries in which the term "librarian" remains an honoured - and universally understood - job title. It remains stubbornly addicted to paper products, when nearly all of its "sister industries" in professional services have long since moved on to nearly 100% digital options. Information plays a highly visible role in the legal world, giving information products and services the rare gift of intrinsic value to the profession.

Very 20th century in many ways. So when new ideas shake it up, the resulting leaps forward are dramatic and even jolting.

Four products were named to finalist status for the 2013 CODiE Award for Best Legal Information Product, with the winner presented by the Content Division of the SIIA in January 2013. They each address different elements of the information and access requirements of today's legal profession and offer the potential for changing the time-tested approaches to getting legal work done... in the best possible ways.

  • Lexis Advance truly advances one of the "must have" resources of legal research. Our reviewer, John DiGilio, calls it, "arguably the most inspired product the company has released since the launch of its original flagship system". He's a particular fan of the simplified yet powerful search, topic summaries and straightforward pricing. This new platform for serving up Lexis' deep and wide legal content deserves a closer look (and FreePint intends to commission a more detailed report later in 2013).

  • Web Preserver looks at a completely different aspect of legal work: the need to save and archive websites, as well as stay informed of changes. The applications of this product include competitive and market intelligence, but also due diligence, legal record-keeping and other legal tasks. Reviewer Barbara Fullerton appreciates Web Preserver's cloud-based system (a great improvement over the local solutions of yesteryear) flexible user-defined options, tagging and mobile applications. Equally as important, she found the product team accessible and open to user suggestions for improvement.

  • IA Watch picks up on a theme much on everyone's minds: financial compliance. An information portal for compliance officers of SEC-regulated firms and their service providers, IA Watch combines targeted news alerts, expert commentary, discussion forums, a resource directory and even a compliance toolkit to meet the unique needs of this audience. Penny Crossland reviewed and found it clean, straightforward and chock-a-block with useful and usable material.

  • Workshare addresses critical needs for secure collaboration on documents, within a firm and between a firm and its clients or partners. James Mullan's review documents the elegance of a tool that integrates seamlessly with Outlook when emailing documents, keeps those documents secure, organises and supports cloud-based collaboration on those documents, plays well with mobile devices, alerts collaborators to changes, and does it all without breaking into a sweat.

Four very different products, each addressing specific needs for and within law firms (and to some extent all professional services firms). Only one can take the CODiE, and from this group it was Lexis Advance. But as you'll see from the reviews in this report, legal information work changes too, even if "looseleaf updates" remains a line item in many a law firm content budget.

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