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Some free legal research and costly CLE

A few weeks ago we reported that Lexis had forced Jurisline’s no cost caselaw database, but not Jurisline itself, from the Web. The big news this week is the grand opening of the no-cost LexisOne Web site, featuring state and federal appellate case opinions going back to January 1, 1996, United States Supreme Court cases back to 1790, 1,100 legal forms, and lots of law-related Internet links.

Tech Specs

Company: LexisOne

Web site:

Product: CLE CD-ROMs (various titles)

Requires: IBM PC or compatible with a Pentium II or better microprocessor running Microsoft Windows 95/98, sound card, CD-ROM drive, 80 megabytes free hard disk space. Also CLE4Me.


Address: 1700 Pacific Avenue, Dallas, Texas 75201-4675

Phone: (877) 896-1677 or (214) 969-4200

Fax: (214) 969-4343

Web: and

The most important part of LexisOne is the caselaw. While a search of the limited time period isn’t likely to hit the seminal case needed for a court brief or a legal memorandum to guide the senior partner, the search should provide the lawyer with enough information to update prior memoranda or to give some quick advice to a client on the latest learning on some vital question.

The site contains Lexis-edited material, with the same standard of reliability that one should expect from the paid databases, and includes features such as parallel citations and star paging. What LexisOne does not have shows how good CALR has become. While lawyers who haven’t been using Lexis or Westlaw (or or Quicklaw, for that matter) will find the LexisOne caselaw a very useful tool, lawyers wise in the recent ways of Web-based CALR will find a lot missing:

• LexisOne does not provide natural language searching and relevancy rankings and such.

• The site does not provide core terms or core concepts. We’ve come to depend on core terms, particularly when scrolling through a long Lexis hit list, to find cases that may be relevant to a specific legal problem. LexisOne users will have to formulate very precise search queries and take cues from the case caption.

• No hyperlinking is available. Even if an opinion refers to another case that is in the LexisOne database, you cannot “click” on the citation and immediately move to the other case.

• No Shepard’s symbols — if the case has been overruled or followed or criticized you’ll never know it from the cite list.

• No specific e-mail or print delivery. Users will have to use the “select all” browser command and copy the selected text to the word processor. (Be warned: this procedure seems to be in violation of the boilerplate “terms and conditions” posted on the LexisOne site. Select and copy at your peril.)

The researcher, if she wants more, can click on a link to enter the paid Web site, to get these or other enhancements, to take advantage of an existing Lexis account, or to research on plastic.


Then there are the 33 categories of forms. Most of the forms that we looked at accepted user input of names, dates, places and terms relevant to the document. LexisOne then assembled the document using the user input so the form could be downloaded in WordPerfect or Microsoft Word for Windows format. Other forms require a 3.7 megabyte download of something called HotDocs Player. Other forms are PDF downloads.

We couldn’t find any forms that let us take a quick look prior to the data input routines. Although some of the forms had very specific titles — “Official Supervisor’s Report of Employee’s Death” under the “Department of Labor” category or “Security Agreement – Equipment” under the “Secured Transactions” category — we weren’t sure, without looking, of the difference between the “Lease” and the “Lease Agreement” in the “Real Estate” section, and still have no idea when to use a “Complaint — Conversion Divorce” in the “Family Law” section. Better annotations, a quick preview of the first page of the document and perhaps a facility to conduct a full-text search of the form database would make the set a lot more useful.

The forms are free and easy to access and not a bad place to check if you need a specific form in a hurry.

LexisOne is an interesting concept, done reasonably well. Registration and use is free. We don’t expect a lot of current subscribers to Lexis or the other paid legal research databases to make extensive use of LexisOne, but we’ll certainly keep the site bookmarked. The URL, of course, is

A new CLE CD-ROM provider

Although Illinois lawyers are not required to earn continuing legal education credits to maintain a law license, we do report on national CLE providers delivering programs in technology-based formats., according to its Web site, “is a provider of multimedia, interactive, participatory CD-ROM and Web-based continuing legal education seminars and professional development programs in a variety of fields.” We’re told that the company is owned by the Akin Gump law firm, and is run out of space in the firm’s Dallas office.

The company’s Web-based catalog currently offers five CD-ROMs, each offering one hour of CLE credit in a variety of different jurisdictions, for $149.95, including one CLE license. The company does not mind if two or 50 lawyers work through each disk, but demands an additional $149.95 for each attorney who wishes to register the CD-ROM participation for MCLE credit.

We began by looking at confidentiality agreements and letters of intent.

The program claims to use Shockwave 8.0 and QuickTime 4.18, both of which are included on the disk, and we took the opportunity to install both to our computer. When we first launched the disk’s software, we got an error stating that Shockwave wasn’t available. A call to the company elicited the information that some computers required the installation of Shockwave 7, a multi-megabyte download, from the Macromedia Web site. Some time later, Version 7 was installed and we were able to begin the CLE program.

The disk’s production values are excellent, with soothing background music and space travel video scenes, pause buttons on the lecture and such. We agreed with most of the lecturer’s comments and the accompanying documents were usable. The $150 price tag for the disk seems reasonable, but $150 per MCLE hour seems high, at least in a state which doesn’t require CLE and therefore has program prices that are considerably lower.

The presentation, although good, could use some work. Although you can watch parts of the program at different times, you apparently have to watch the entire program at one time to
get the completion certificate. We don’t think much of the program’s “interactivity,” which seems limited to asking a ridiculously easy multiple guess question every five or 10 minutes through the lecture, but need not be answered. There are supposed to be Web-based discussion groups, but we couldn’t find any active discussion. The disk includes “handouts” referred to by the lecturer and which are designed to be printed before the lecture begins. We would have preferred to be able to view the handout online as the program proceeds, but the vendor’s software doesn’t permit that option.

At the end of the presentation, the program will print a certificate that the disk was viewed, and, if appropriately licensed, you can use the certificate to obtain your CLE credit.

The developer expects to have these and other programs available for Web-based delivery this fall.


The legalednet folks have another product at, a site that contains a database of information about CLE programs and maintains a database of the subscriber MCLE needs and coordinates with available programs. The CLE database can be used without charge. For $30 the site will store information about the MCLE you must take, courses taken, help you find appropriate programs and let you participate in discussion groups. For $40 per month the site will automatically match available programs to your needs, e-mail suggestions to you, and warn you of MCLE deadlines.

A year ago we reviewed Oceanalaw’s CLE Advisor,, a $50 per year subscription service with a searchable CLE database. Good CLE isn’t that hard to find. Of course, CLE Advisor didn’t track your individual MCLE requirements. Although $30 or $40 per month seems high to us, if CLE4Me can find that program you need, in a suitable climate at the right time of year, it may be worth the money.


Lexis is giving away free case searching and downloadable forms at Will the site pull revenue from Lexis? Or will it show us how valuable the high-priced CALR facilities really are?

LegalEdNet sells disk-based CLE programs at $150 per hour and a personalized Web-based MCLE coordinator for $30 to $40 per month.

Barry D. Bayer practices law and writes about computers from his law office in Homewood, IL. To contact him, write to P.O. Box 2577, Homewood, IL 60430, or send an e-mail to [email protected]

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