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LN overhauls online legal services

LN overhauls online legal services

LEXIS NEXIS’ new global technology platform, LexisNexis AU, which will replace the Butterworths Online platform, is about to roll open its doors.LexisNexis is a global distributor of legal, news…

LEXIS NEXIS’ new global technology platform, LexisNexis AU, which will replace the Butterworths Online platform, is about to roll open its doors.

LexisNexis is a global distributor of legal, news and business information. The new platform will provide subscribers with new search, navigation and personalisation features and access to over 180 Australian, NZ, Asian and UK legal sources, ranging from court forms and laws affecting corporations to patents, trade marks and journals.

The platform will also provide content such as CaseBase, Halsbury’s Laws of Australia, Australian Encyclopaedia of Forms and Precedents, Unreported Judgments NSW and Australian Current Law.

CEO for LexisNexis in Australia (publisher of Lawyers Weekly) Max Piper said that “LexisNexis’ strategy has been to develop a single platform that will speed delivery of our portfolio of research and information tools to corporations, lawyers and information professionals, wherever they are in the world”.

Based on IBM’s WebSphere portal software, the new global technology platform was developed over two years.

More than 20,000 Australian subscribers will be migrated to LexisNexis AU from the existing LexisNexis Butterworths Online program between February 2004 and May 2005, all of whom will be trained by LexisNexis to ensure they are well-versed with the platform’s new features.

A global survey conducted by LexisNexis in 2003 in conjunction with the International Bar Association revealed that Australia is ahead of the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany and Canada in the adoption of new technologies.

Many Australians felt the quality of their legal work had improved because of the growth of online research services like LexisNexis. According to Piper, there had been a migration from the use of hard copy publications to online services, and this was a growing trend in the Australian legal publishing industry.

“Some people originally questioned how the legal profession would take to an online product, but many legal professionals were already accessing other general publications online, particularly US news services, so there was little resistance to either the concept or the technology,” Piper said.

Piper said the migration online included solicitors, barristers, legal counsel and librarians in the public and private sectors “The majority of these people grew up with hard copy publications,” he said.

The technical revolution is not just taking place in large legal practices, it is happening in small country towns, government agencies and legal counsel within commercial organisations.

Firms all over Australia are increasingly using online services. In the NSW town of Young, Gordon Garling Moffit is a general legal practice with offices in nearby towns Cowra and Grenfell. Finding that maintaining a hard copy library for the three offices was difficult, the firm decided to access all LexisNexis Butterworths Online publications. “This means that we are no longer shipping copies around the countryside. There’s no delay and no storage costs,” said Andree Rowntree of the firm.

The Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) is another organisation benefiting from the online migration. It began moving to online services seven years ago and the move has “streamlined the flow of information within the organisation”, said ASX Research Services Manager Tanya Honey.

“We began our online experience with a 10 seat licence for LexisNexis Butterworths Online. Growth from there was driven in part by the cost savings we found in not having to file loose leaf publications, and time benefits derived from various people being able to access the same information simultaneously, something that is quite impossible with hard copy material,” said Honey.

The Federal Government is also using online legal libraries and is gaining significant cost savings. Comcare, the statutory authority responsible for workplace safety, rehabilitation and compensation in the Commonwealth’s jurisdiction, claimed it has been able to save space and achieve higher levels of relevant access to information.

“With litigation, we need to access a lot of precedents and need to be able to assess relevant recent cases that apply to individual litigation,” said Comcare General Counsel Len Sorbello.

Although apparently steeped in tradition, the legal profession in Australia is finding it is benefiting from online services, as are other Australian organisations. “The next generation of this technology will further reflect the changing needs of the legal profession,” said Piper.

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