Lawyers spend much of their time at their computers, and much of that time using Microsoft Word or Microsoft Outlook. In recognition of that, LexisNexis today is announcing a major new product that integrates search and other tools directly within Word and Outlook. Called Lexis® for Microsoft Office, the product is an add-on to Office that lets lawyers access these tools as they work within Office applications.

Simply put, the product splits the screen within an Office application and brings results and information right into the application, whether it is Word or Outlook. Notable about the product is that it enables powerful and intuitive search within Office not just of the LexisNexis database, but also of the open Web and of a firm’s own document management system, all simultaneously and all with just a couple of keystrokes.

The product adds three primary search components to Word and Outlook. Results are displayed alongside the document or e-mail, so you see both simultaneously. The three components are:

  • Search. From a single search box within Word or Outlook, run a search that spans LexisNexis, the Web and your firm’s internal database or DMS. Results from all sources are displayed in a pane next to the active document.
  • Background. Click this button to search for background information on “entities” within a document or e-mail. An entity could be a person, company, organization or case. The button automatically indexes the working document with hyperlinks to relevant information from LexisNexis, the Web and internal resources. Click the hyperlink to view the information in the side pane. The Background feature will also display full Shepard’s reports and apply Shepard’s SignalTM indicators directly to the cases cited within the text of the document. Full text versions of case law, news and information cited within an e-mail message or Word document can also be accessed through the® resources directly within the Microsoft software application.
  • Suggest. Similar to the Background function, this functionality interacts with any text in a Word document or Outlook message. By manually highlighting any portion or block of text, the user can prompt a search that will pull up relevant information from internal, LexisNexis and Web resources. The content is displayed in a side pane within the application.

For lawyers who are connected to SharePoint Server and Microsoft SharePoint Workspace, this tool also provides the ability to store, organize and share documents on a related topic from a SharePoint site. SharePoint can also act as an internal company database from which Lexis for Microsoft Office pulls information.

Although LexisNexis is announcing Lexis for Microsoft Office today at LegalTech in New York, the product will not immediately be available. It will launch for Microsoft Office 2007 in spring 2010, the company says, and will be available with Microsoft Office 2010. It will not work on older versions of Microsoft Offfice. To access and use the product’s capabilities, users will require a current LexisNexis subscription.

Lexis developed the product in conjunction with engineers from Microsoft Corp. It has been beta testing the product with law firms for several months and refining it based on their input. Lexis says the testers have been enthusiastically pleased with their ability to access key information about a document from directly within Office.

Even as Lexis readies this product for release, the company is engaged in a parallel effort to broadly overhaul its core research product, with changes in the works for its technology, design and functionality. The initial release of that will be later this year. A spokesman I talked to described the product being announced today as “the first step in our journey of reinvention.”

Photo of Bob Ambrogi Bob Ambrogi

Bob is a lawyer, veteran legal journalist, and award-winning blogger and podcaster. In 2011, he was named to the inaugural Fastcase 50, honoring “the law’s smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries and leaders.” Earlier in his career, he was editor-in-chief of several legal publications, including The National Law Journal, and editorial director of ALM’s Litigation Services Division.