What Do You Pay for Westlaw or LexisNexis?

In two posts I wrote about Bloomberg Law — one earlier this month and one when it launched — I cited something that Bloomberg emphasizes as a key selling point, its flat-fee pricing of $450 per user per month.

My question to you is: How does that compare to what you pay for Westlaw or LexisNexis?

Pricing of these services seems to be all over the board, depending on any number of factors and on how good of a deal your firm is able to negotiate. Some firms expressly agree not to reveal their pricing terms.

I am trying to get a better sense of how Bloomberg’s price compares to those offered by Westlaw and LexisNexis. (And, yes, even Bloomberg offers enterprise pricing to larger firms.)

I’m not asking you to tell me specifically what you pay. (Feel free to if you want.) But is it more or less than Bloomberg’s rate? Is the difference in price small or large? What do you get for that price?

Let me know. Add a comment below or send me an email.

Posted in: General

30 Responses to “What Do You Pay for Westlaw or LexisNexis?”

  1. Lisa Solomon says:

    As I understand it, all Westlaw (and WestlawNext) contracts contain a confidentiality provision. That’s one way Thomson Reuters tries to divide and conquer its customers. Therefore, I’m happy to share with you what I pay for Westlaw. In fact, I posted the information on my blog last year: you can find it at http://is.gd/hwsMxY.

  2. John Craske says:

    We have the same issue in the UK … with bad behaviour from suppliers but no way of sharing actual amounts paid without breaching confidentiality obligations and no way of taking some consolidated action (it would be anti-competitive).

    So – early this year I did some generic benchmarking research with UK law firms on the spend on online research resources and other library/knowledge budget categories – generic enough so that the individual suppliers were not listed but specific enough to see some trends in terms of year-on-year increases.

    I got responses from firms accounting for more than 5000 lawyers and £8M of library/knowledge budgets.

    The trends very much supported the view that firms are focussing in on what they need and shedding books and services where they are ‘nice to have’ but that firmwide online resources still take up the lion’s share of budgets (50%) with year on year increases of around 6.5% (well above inflation).

    If you are interested here are the questions I asked: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/PY2SNPC

  3. Bob, I have used Lexis/Nexis for years at a cost of about 25% less than the Bloomberg price. That price includes everything that I need for my legal research needs, including case law and statutes from every U.S. jurisdiction and law review articles.

  4. Galen Avery says:

    We pay way more than that for Lexis. We don’t have West, but the quotes I’ve seen are also much higher.

  5. At one time, I paid $740/month for Lexis. Then, I went over to Westlaw. The services were greatly reduced. Westlaw cost me $300/month. Once that subscription ran out I went back to Lexis for $330/month. Now, I am with Jenkins Law Library.

    For $160/YEAR I get unlimited Fastcase and 20 minutes of Lexis per 24 hour period. I used to use Lexis by credit card for various libraries for a specific amount of time. Lexis by credit card has been discontinued.

    In my opinion, Lexis by credit card was discontinued in an attempt to force attorneys to pay for monthly subscriptions. … The very idea that it was discontinued at the suggestion by lawyers that they would rather conduct legal research by reading Lexis’s blog is not only a joke, but insulting.

  6. I’m an attorney in sole practice. Given that my practice involves both business transactions and intellectual property (primarily trademark, some copyright), I’ve never found a pricing scheme that is affordable on any of the services. Last time I checked, Westlaw Next did not offer IP content. That is the issue with many of the services; access to “specialized” IP content is prohibitively expensive. However, it’s been a while since I looked into it, so it’s possible the situation has changed.

  7. Jeff says:

    Used to pay $500 a month for my state and fed case law with Westlaw. Now I get same from Lexis for $180 a month.

  8. Gary S. says:

    I wish I could renew my “old” Westlaw plan! As a Westlaw student rep in during law school in the late 80’s, I had an unlimited use password, which Westlaw didn’t shut down until last year.

  9. JS says:

    For some reason today I decided to stroll down memory lane. I was a branch (sales) manager for LEXIS in the 90s. It looks like nothing has changed. Back then, no one understood pricing except the moles in Dayton who set the schedules. In the field, the idea was to pick a number the rep & the manageer could live with then throw in stuff (within *some* reason) until the customer bought.

    Two people five minutes apart would get entirely different quotes. Remember, once a databse is developed, there wasn’t (even then) a real incremental cost to giving it away.

    Now nothing about this is bad. It’s called capitalism. Unfocused capitalism, but still. Thanks for the thread. I got a chuckle.

  10. Phil says:

    I am a long-retired Westlaw account manager (I escaped shortly after Thomson’s takeover). I used to manage gov’t accounts (municipal, state, & federal) & would always try to help my customers get the biggest bang for their bucks! In the state agencies, I understood that when the Westlaw budget was exhausted, they’d just pull the plug. So I made it my mission to teach uber-effective Westlaw usage, help agencies negotiate excellent flat-rate, multi-year pricing deals, & teach them how to drive usage down before the contract ended so as to make for better future pricing negotiations. I was a concerned taxpayer, after all! ;-)

    The days of extraordinary customer service, excellent products, & total customer satisfaction are long gone. These days, the bean-counters & performance metrics managers rule. I miss the old West Publishing Co. That said, hurrah for the internets & various services which have grown over the past decade, forcing Westlaw & Lexis to to face real competition for some of their market share!

  11. Laura says:

    It’s hard say as it depends what you are doing. For us we really need to track a lot of dockets and Bloomberg gives us unlimited docket tracking for what West charged for 198 tracks (you can only get tracks in packs of 99 if you are a corporate client). And as we have over 500 tracks now it’s a significant savings for us even with the PACER pass through (that west and lexis does not do). But the pass through does add several hundred dollars per month to our bill, so it is not insignificant. Even with that, it is still considerably cheaper than our west or lexis contracts were. Also sometimes their pass-thru charges are less. For example what PACER (and thus BLaw) charges for the acutal documents are 25-50% of what lexis and west charge for the same documents. But with that said, there are things I can do on west and lexis that I can’t do on blaw. So it’s not apples to apples really.

    • ALF says:

      Yes, they do. Even you register but don’t wind up ever logging into your account even once to use the service. Just got a copy of the complaint for $1000+ they will be filing if they don’t get their money.

  12. John R says:

    I can’t believe, as an attorney, I actually agreed to Westlaw’s contract! Does anyone know if they actually sue attorneys? It sickens me to actually pay them every month.

  13. Sheogorath says:

    According to my understanding of U.S. copyright law (admittedly, I live in the UK), you shouldn’t have to pay anything to access court transcripts because they’re all in the Public Domain just like anything else produced by individuals directly employed by the U.S. government.

    • Adam says:

      that true, you don’t have to pay to access these documents. However what you are paying for is the search function, and most importantly sheperdizing function (where you can see all cases that cite such a case, which is a pain to do without lexis or westlaw).

  14. […] What Do You Pay for Westlaw or Lexis? (July 13, 2011). […]

  15. European Lawyer says:

    Always surprise me how in the US these 2 companies (maybe 4, I know) have a de facto monopoly of legal information. In some small countries of Europe there are 5 or 6 companies competing for a small market, and the fees are about 50 to 100 USD.

    And what happens in countries where attorneys are not able to afford these fees?.

    What about people who want to know more about his/her legal situation?.

    I think some of the later are using blogs, but specially they are using encyclopedias, like Wikipedia or the Encyclopedia of Law (lawin.org).

    In some European law schools the cuts have been so hard than they also are not able to afford Weslaw-like systems.

    And students prefer to make their legal research online rather than to go to the library. So online encyclopedias will stay with us for a long time.

  16. European Lawyer says:

    Another question. May Wikipedia displace the use of Westlaw or Lexis in the future?.

  17. Tom says:

    So attorneys in the US are willing to pay hundreds of dollars a month for access to a compiled and indexed database of what are essentially public records? I need to get into that business.

  18. Roberts says:

    We’ve been with Lexis for a few years and their pricing kept going up every year. This year they were asking for $440 a month. When i wrote them that i am cancelling the contract and not renewing the rep said is $300 ok for you? I found other providers for less cost considering my search volume isnt that much. I am switched to TLO search.

  19. Roberts says:

    It upsets me to know that Lexis was willing to come down from $440 to $300 but only after you tell them that you’re not renewing the contract. I could have gotten them more down but i was too upset that they wanted to rob me for that much. They first throw at you a really high number and say oh i can give you a discount, and you end up paying more than last year as always. I’m not a fan of pricing inflation, because as another person said here once the database is created its there. There is no incremental cost to keep it. Why rob people in these tough times? They really need to understand and work with folks these days, instead of being trained so much like a sales person. I guess thats their job, but my job is to be efficient in business costs and not overpay. I dropped Lexis and im relieved.

  20. Jake Witmer says:

    This is very interesting. I am working on a software project and need raw data from courthouses. The county clerks are often a mess, but I may just wind up using their systems that are byzantine and different in every U.S. State. A few years ago there was a federally-funded project to put cameras in all the courthouses, for transparency purposes. A big supporter of that effoer was the anti-racial-profiling activist Edward Lawson. Lawson, though he seemed young and healthy, then suddenly died of pancreatic cancer. I don’t know anyone else who was part of the camera push, which now seems stalled.

    Putting camera feeds in the nation’s courthouses would solve my problems, once a speech to text function was added. There are AIs out there which could then do heuristics analysis of the speech to give me the data I need.

    How much would the info I need cost? Noone at LN or WL can give me a straight answer. Leaning toward county clerks right now. Here’s what I’m looking for, and I don’t want to pay a lot for it:
    What I want, at the moment:
    1) The State and Federal criminal court dockets, in electronic form for all 50 States. If not a part of the docket information, I am trying to get the following data, in as close to field format as possible.
    a) the number of cases presented,
    b) number of cases that go to trial,
    c) number of plea bargains,
    d) results of plea or trial,
    e) the specific criminal codes defendants are charged with breaking, as a data field

    2) The legal precedents for free speech in all 50 States, up to the minute (such as “Marsh v. Alabama” etc.)

    3) The legal precedents for police protocol in all 50 States, to the extent it even exists, and they don’t just “shoot first and make up stories later,” as they recently did in the Abdelal case on Chicago’s West Side.


    Jake Witmer

  21. […] Early on, law students are taught how to brief cases and frequently refer to case notes or case summary books. While briefing a case is not the same as writing a legal brief, the same core principles apply: by virtue of reading through and summarizing (aka briefing) cases, students learn how to look for, and extract, the most meaningful parts of a case.  These include the citations, the procedural history, the facts, the issues,and the applicable rule or rules of law. As graduates, lawyers include these very same principles within the briefs they author in order to further their client’s position. While case briefs for students are offered by a variety of publishers including Aspen Publishing, West and Lexis, legal briefs or court briefs authored on behalf of their clients for actual cases, are much harder to come by for practicing attorneys. Though West and Lexis do provide the most comprehensive database of legal briefs, their access fees can be prohibitive. […]

  22. Byron says:

    There is clearly value in the services. My company collates public records and turns them into statistics on lawyers. The amount of effort required is enormous. However, the way these companies do pricing is absurd.

  23. […] What Do You Pay for Westlaw or LexisNexis? (July 13, 2011) […]

  24. […] near $14 per search on Google? Or a subscription that costs $450 per user per month like some firms pay for Bloomberg? It may be the case that the costs are significantly lower per search for Google than for […]

  25. […] near $14 per search on Google? Or a subscription that costs $450 per user per month like some firms pay for Bloomberg? It may be the case that the costs are significantly lower per search for Google than for […]

  26. Travieso Bailey says:

    Why not simply sublease your westlaw or lexis nexus subscription to others?
    Law Students get there subscription for free.
    Why not just pay a law student $50 a month for their password?

  27. Lisa Hollister says:

    I use Ohio Bar Association and it is free with my membership. It provides almost everything I need.

  28. A forest for the trees view of Westlaw.

    Imagine the sum of all legal knowledge ever created on the internet, free for anyone to access and build. A Wikipedia of law.

    The technology exists to put the sum of all human knowledge on the internet today, all that is needed is the political desire.

    Why all books, scholarly journals and media should be free for anyone to read and develop.

    In April 2006, while in school for a joint international relations master degree and juris doctorate (law degree) I wrote a wikipedia article called “Predictions of Soviet Collapse”. For years I had studied the historical trends of declining empires and noted that the United States was in rapid and inevitable decline. (China’s GDP passed Americas in late 2014). I wanted to know who had predicted the fall of the Soviet Union.

    With fifty six sources, and no comparable article anywhere online or print, this is the most comprehensive article on the subject of predictions of Soviet collapse ever written.

    The article shows what collaborative volunteers on the internet can accomplish. Wikipedia, a completely volunteer project, is now the top 10 most visited site in the world. It is so successful it put the Encyclopedia Britannica, the most respected encyclopedia in the English language out of print. Study after study shows that wikipedia articles are equal to or better than Encyclopedia Britannica articles in accuracy.

    Since 2006, over 70 other volunteers have built upon my original work on the predictions article.

    The problem I faced writing this article was that so much of the sources were not online, or I had to pay to see them. I spent my own money researching this article.

    I have written hundreds of original articles like this for Wikipedia. I have collaboratively helped build thousands more existing articles. Again and again I am faced with media being out of print, never digitalized, or behind expensive pay walls, some like westlaw, cost $500 to access.

    This prediction article could be a hundred times better if there was no copyright. Times that by 7.8 million articles on wikipedia, and we are talking literally about a revolution in knowledge.

    The technology exists in which we can have every article, video or book on the predictions of soviet collapse EVER written on one page! Volunteers from all over the world could then work together to build an exhaustive history of this fascinating subject.

    Traditional authors and creators would be compensated throughhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternative_compensation_system
    What is even more promising is volunteer hobbyists like me could be compensated a little too, although I would gladly continue to do it for fun, along with the millions of others who are building wikipedia today.

    The technology exists to put the sum of all human knowledge on the internet today, all that is needed is the political desire.

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