Most legal research is now performed online. Gone are the days when paralegals and associates had to pull all-nighters at their firm libraries to gather relevant legal information. With advanced legal research software at their disposal, their jobs have become substantially easier.
By leveraging these legal research tools, lawyers can dig out case law and prepare solid support for their arguments much quicker than before.
However, when it comes to picking a tool, there are a bunch of options to choose from.
Whether you’re from a major law firm or solo practitioner, keep reading. In this article, we’ll review some of the best legal research software to try in 2020 (along with their up-to-date pricing).
Let’s get right to it.
Why Casetext is the Best Legal Research Software Right Now
Primarily, legal research tools are meant to cut down the time it takes to physically go through case reporters to gather supporting legal data. However, today, they’ve become much more advanced and employ artificial intelligence to analyze the opposing counsel’s brief.
As of now, Casetext is one of the few tools that are packed with the most advanced features and a comprehensive legal research database at a reasonable cost.
Designed to cater to a wide range of practice areas, and packaged as a user-friendly solution, Casetext will help you find on-point authorities in the very first search (unlike other tools that can take forever).
And the best part — it’s highly cost-effective, making it the ultimate replacement for both Lexis and Westlaw.
Top Legal Research Software to Try in 2020
Selecting a legal research tool to empower your attorneys can be difficult, especially since there are so many options out there.
The following leading software are great choices:
An affordable software built for modern-day attorneys, Casetext is currently leading the market of legal research platforms.
Featuring cutting-edge capabilities, including an AI-powered tool, this legal research platform has everything you need to create solid arguments and win more cases.
Not only can you find on-point search results in your jurisdiction in less time, you will also get time-saving features like automatic copy-with-cite and annotated statutes.
Furthermore, Casetext charges zero out-of-plan fees. Unlike other legal research software listed below who charge out-of-plan fees if you search outside your jurisdiction, you’ll get coverage to all 50-state & federal cases and more all wrapped into the price.
Key Features or Capabilities
Here’s everything the tool has to offer:
- Comprehensive Coverage — 50-state & federal case law, statutes, regulations, rules, administrative materials, briefs, attorney analyses, black letter law and a holdings database — the comprehensive law library of Casetext has everything you need.
- Smarter Search — the search technology behind Casetext is why attorneys have been switching to Casetext from legacy tools. You can search by boolean, natural language, or a CARA A.I. search mentioned below. You can find on-point results faster with motion type, cause of action and party type filters.
- Reference attorneys — they offer live chat, phone and email support to all customers. They also have reference attorneys included in your plan if you choose to use them.
- Automatic copy-with-cite — you can click on any passage in a case and they will automatically create a Bluebook citation for you. They also have some state-specific citations if your state has its own formatting.
- Case summaries written by judges — other tools have attorney editors write a case summary whereas Casetext has case summaries written from the judges themselves. You can also search through a holdings database.
- CARA A.I. — you can upload any legal document (brief, complaint, etc), with or without citations, into Casetext’s artificial intelligence tool, CARA A.I, and it will find on-point results in seconds. CARA A.I. finds cases that have the same facts and legal issues as your matter. It’s used by attorneys to spot missing cases from their own briefs or your opposing counsel’s.
- SmartCite — ensure that your case is still good law with this powerful citator. You’ll get green flags, red flags and also orange flags. Orange flags will tell you if the case hasn’t been overturned, but relies on one that was. Smartcite is comparable to Shephard’s of LexisNexis Find cases based on similar issues — other tools will show you all the issues mentioned in a case, but Casetext takes it one step further. You can highlight any passage in a case and it will give you cases based on similar issues (even if they didn’t cite to your original case).
In addition to the above, Casetext also offers and research organization capabilities like highlights, notes, bookmarks and folders.
Casetext currently offers the following price plans:
- Solo — perfect for a solo attorney. This costs $65/month (billed annually) or $89/month (billed monthly).
- Small Firm — for 2 to 11 attorneys. This plan will also cost you $65/month (billed annually) or $89/month (billed monthly) per attorney.
- Enterprise — this plan is meant for larger firms. There is no fixed price. You can contact the sales team to get a quote.
2. Westlaw Edge
Next on the list is Westlaw Edge — another top-rated legal research product (by Thomson Reuters — an online legal research service provider).
Apart from a powerful search tool that provides access to an ocean of information, this legal research software offers litigation analytics, a powerful citator, and reference attorneys.
All in all, with Westlaw Edge, you can guarantee highly accurate research, without compromising on efficiency. The main con of Westlaw Edge is the price and extra fees which make it unreasonable for solo practitioners or small law firms.
Key Features or Capabilities
Westlaw Edge offers the following exciting features — good enough for both an attorney riding solo and an entire law firm:
- WestSearch Plus — this is a powerful search engine, built especially for lawyers, that can help you find the answers to all your legal questions (on any topic) in a matter of a few minutes.
- Statutes Compare & Regulations Compare — want to see if a statute or a regulation has changed over time? Simply use the Statutes Compare & Regulations Compare feature.
- Quick Check — this feature allows you to analyze your briefs for more relevant authority. You can also use this tool to look for drawbacks in the opposing counsel’s argument.
- Litigation Analytics — gather intelligence on your judge, courts, opponents, and more, and get a head-start.
Furthermore, Westlaw Edge offers jurisdictional surveys, advanced legislative analytics, and a citator (called “KeyCite Overruling Risk”).
Westlaw Edge Pricing
Westlaw Edge is available as pre-made plans for different sizes and courts. However, Thomson Reuters haven’t shared any fixed prices for these.
The plans are available for small and large law firms, corporations (aimed for in-house counsel), and state and federal courts.
Visit Westlaw Edge
3. Lexis Advance® (LexisNexis)
Lexis Advance® is the flagship product of LexisNexis — a legacy provider of legal research tools and services.
This legal research software offers comprehensive coverage, including case law, regulations, statutes, and regulations, along with extensive secondary sources.
Additionally, Lexis Advance® offers some of the most advanced legal analytics capabilities to help you create airtight arguments.
Key Features or Capabilities
Here are the features that make Lexis Advance® such a powerful platform:
- Premium Content — get access to public records, legal sources, and news sources, which aren’t offered by a lot of tools.
- Shephard’s® Citation Service — get a comprehensive editorial analysis and make sure you’re not missing out on anything important to support your argument.
- Ravel™ View — visualize top relevant cases, see how they connect with each other, and easily find out how they can support your stance.
- Practice Centers — these are special pages that provide access to highly trusted legal sources.
Lexis Advance® Pricing
Like Westlaw Edge, LexisNexis doesn’t come with a fixed price tag.
Furthermore, the pricetag is best for big law. Their small firm and solo plans can be become expensive due to out-of-plan fees..
To get a quote, fill out a sales form on their main landing page and get in touch with a rep.
Visit Lexis Advance®
4. ROSS Intelligence
ROSS Intelligence specializes in offering artificial intelligence-powered solutions that empower lawyers.
One of the smaller tools in the market with coverage is ROSS Intelligence.
The tool is the ease-of-use, which doesn’t require any training.
Key Features or Capabilities
ROSS Intelligence offers the following features/capabilities:
- Question-Based Search — this tool allows you to seek answers without constructing complex queries. Simply shoot a simple question and get the answers you need.
- Find Similar Language — easily find other cases that use similar language to support your argument.
- Document Analyzer — upload your document and ROSS will review citations and point out negative treatments.
- Case Treatments — worried you’re using a case that has been questioned? ROSS will make sure that your preparation is bulletproof.
- Question-Focused Case Overviews — this is an exclusive feature that can summarize cases according to your queries.
ROSS Intelligence Pricing
ROSS Intelligence is available in 3 different pricing plans, with all offering the same features (the only point of difference is how they’re billed):
- Annual Billing — $69/month
- Quarterly Billing — $79/month
- Monthly Billing — $89/month
Visit ROSS Intelligence
5. Practical Law
This is another popular legal research software by Thomson Reuters.
However, unlike Westlaw Edge, which is a full-fledged legal research platform, Practical Law empowers lawyers to keep up with the changing statutes and regulations, and support their legal research.
With this platform, you get access to over 280 seasoned attorney-editors, well-versed in a wide range of practice areas.
Key Features or Capabilities
Here’s what Practical Law has to offer:
- Research Notes — if you ever find yourself in unfamiliar territory (or a case in an area you haven’t worked on in a while), you can use these resources to get up-to-speed with everything.
- Checklists — don’t miss out on anything in your case with Practical Law’s comprehensive checklists.
- Contracts and Agreements — learn from experts and get coverage for a wide range of topics/practice areas.
- State Q&As — confused how certain laws differ across states? Use this search engine to find the answers you seek.
- Toolkits — a set of templates, articles, documents, and more that offer the head-start you need in your research process.
In addition to the above, Practical Law also offers a large library of publicly filed deals.
Practical Law Pricing
Like Westlaw Edge, Thomson Reuters hasn’t disclosed any fixed price for Practical Law, and has pre-made packages for different needs.
Visit Practical Law
How to Select the Right Legal Research Software
Legal technology has certainly come a long way.
With the help of all the tools, justice can be rushed (or fast-tracked, if you will) after all.
Again, whether you’re a solo practitioner, medium-sized firm, or an Am Law firm, it’s important that you pick the right legal research platform.
While the requirements vary from user to user, at the very least, the tool should offer ample coverage, a strong citator, and advanced search filters to make your research more efficient.
And out of all the tools, Casetext is the only platform that ticks all those boxes — without breaking the bank.