Legal Research Databases and CD-ROMs

AuthorTed Tjaden
The impact of computer technology on the practice of law has been huge.
Its impact on legal research ha s been no less. With computers comes the
capacity to store and search a large body of textual information, which
has given resea rchers the ability to locate specif‌ic terms w ithin that body
of information. An increasing number of high-quality, easy-to-use com-
mercial databas es for conducting onli ne legal re search are now available.
These subscription databases usually contain one or more of the follow-
ing features: they have sophisticated search engines th at allow a number
of different ways of f‌inding information; they contain a variety of law-
related information, in most situations including case law, legislation,
journal literature, and news; they are available only by subscription for a
fee; they are increasingly made available to subscribers via the Internet;
and their publishers are constantly making value-added improvements,
including extra content and easier-to-use interfaces.
Access to the databa ses varies. For law students, your law school has
or can likely obtain passwords for you to use some of these databases
for academic research. For lawyers and other professionals, the vend-
ors of these online databases will negotiate access to their databases
through one of several methods (usually hourly rates, f‌lat-rate fees, or
transactional fees, the recovery of which is discussed in Chapter 1,
Section C). For members of the public, short-term access to these data-
bases is more diff‌icult, and it may be necessary to either hire a lawyer
to conduct research on these databases on your behalf or conduct your
own legal research using other resources discussed in this book.
This chapter will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of con-
ducting legal research using online law-related commercial databases,
followed by a brief review of some of the leading serv ices, discussed
alphabetically by resource in the following three categories:
Comprehensive ser vices:
» LexisNexis Quicklaw
» WestlawNext Canada
LexisNexis Quicklaw and WestlawNext Canada are included as com-
prehensive services due to the extent of their content for primary and
secondary legal resources, news, and other non-legal resources, and to
their domestic and international scope.
Canadian a nd civil law services:
» Droit civil en ligne (DCL)
» Maritime Law Book
» Répertoire électronique de jurisprudence du Barreau (REJB)
» Société québécoise d’information juridique (SOQUIJ)
The strength of the foregoing services is their strong domestic content
(Canadian and Québec), including both primary and secondary law-
related resources, depending on the product.
Specialized services:
» DisclosureNet (securitie s law)
» HeinOnline (journals, books, legi slation)
» (UK case law)
» Kluwer Arbitration Online (arbitration)
» Lancaster House First Resort (labour and employment law)
» PrivaWorks (privacy law)
» Taxnet Pro (tax law)
» Westlaw Business (business law)
The foregoing services offer speciali zed content for Canadian legal re-
searchers, depending on the focus of the research being conducted.
Although CD-ROMs are now an old-fashioned technology (and grad-
ually falling into disuse), legal publishers are still offering CD-ROMs for
some of their products. As such, law-related CD-ROMs are brief‌ly re-
viewed at the end of this chapter.

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