[Update — since publication of this post, Lexis has raised their prices by $240 per year (!) This post now reflects Lexis’ new, higher pricing.]
LexisNexis has taken an extraordinary step important for most lawyers, and there hasn’t been much coverage of it.
LexisNexis has released transparent, self-serve pricing for their core legal research product for smaller firms. This is a big deal—it might represent a way that your firm can save thousands of dollars a year, and it’s a shift in the way LexisNexis has been doing business for a very long time.
This article details the new pricing, a few “gotchas” to watch out for, and how you can take advantage of the new plans whether you’re a LexisNexis subscriber or not.
But first, to address a question that might be on your mind: why would we at Casetext, a new competitor to LexisNexis, cover this news? We’re doing so for a few reasons. First, we want to help attorneys like you get access to affordable legal research—even if it’s from our competitors. Quality representation often requires quality legal research, and to the extent it’s now more affordable through LexisNexis, that’s great news for the profession and our clients. Second, now that LexisNexis is finally transparent with their pricing and offerings, a real apples-to-apples comparison on price, content, and feature-set between Casetext and LexisNexis is for the first time possible. For many attorneys, we believe we’re the better option.
How LexisNexis and Westlaw traditionally price legal research
To understand why this is an extraordinary move by LexisNexis, it’s worthwhile to briefly cover some history.
Traditionally, the legacy legal research providers negotiate each legal research contract in secret, requiring you to sign an NDA about the pricing and other terms of your contract. They do this to extract that maximum price from you possible. If you don’t know what the market rate is, they’ll keep on upping the price until you cry “uncle.” You might end up paying twice as much as a peer for exactly the same service and coverage, and you’ll be none the wiser.
According to publicly available data regarding LexisNexis and Westlaw contracts, the same service can range wildly—we’ve seen contracts from $1,200 to $14,000 per year per attorney for very similar plans.
Most attorneys absolutely hate this business practice. It’s unfair and done solely to take as much from you as possible. But LexisNexis and Westlaw are able to get away with it because, until very recently, there has been no real competition for legal research. Most attorneys swallow the bitter pill of unfair, opaque, and high pricing.
Why LexisNexis is pricing transparently now
So what changed? Over the last few years, new entrants providing innovative new solutions have shifted the market dynamics. Casetext is one of them. We are open and transparent with pricing—and you can buy with a credit card, online, without needing to deal with a salesperson (unless you want a training or walkthrough, which we’re happy to provide). Our pricing is $65 a month if you subscribe to an annual plan, or $89 a month if you subscribe month-to-month. There is only one price for the platform, and it gets you everything—all federal, all states, briefs, articles, and more; and advanced artificial intelligence technology, CARA A.I. search, which no other platform has.
The pressure put on LexisNexis and Westlaw by competitors like us is immense. Over the last 9 months alone, over 3,000 law firms have switched from LexisNexis and Westlaw to Casetext for legal research—and we are just one competitor. Fastcase and Casemaker, free with membership with many state and local bars, are getting increasingly better, and must be chipping away at the traditional legal research platforms.
The large providers needed to do something before they lost all their customers. Old and bad business practices couldn’t withstand the pressure that companies with transparent, affordable, all-inclusive, and self-serve pricing was placing on them.
The new LexisNexis pricing plan
Recently, attorneys started seeing online ads promoting new pricing from LexisNexis. Curious, attorneys clicked through and found the new pricing.
The pricing plan is available online here. It isn’t easy to find on their website—indeed, as far as we’re aware, it’s only accessible through online ads, not from the LexisNexis website. Which is a shame, because this pricing is better than what attorneys were used to seeing from LexisNexis.
For example, for a single attorney getting access to just their state’s laws, it can be as little as $75 a month. We have heard of similar plans that were nearly twice as much for the same coverage—a savings of $600+ per year, per attorney, compared to standard LexisNexis plans.
Three “gotchas” in LexisNexis’ new pricing
The offer is truly great and worth evaluating. But before you leap at it, there are a few things to keep in mind.
- The best prices require a three-year commitment with LexisNexis. If you’re certain that this is the right fit for you—take it! If you’re not certain, you might want to consider their single year plans, or an alternative like Casetext.
- There appears to be a $25 a month “administrative fee.” This means that their lowest plan—$75 a month—will actually be $100 a month. Not quite as good! Indeed, that’s a difference of $300 a month.
- Especially if you get a limited plan, like a plan that only covers your state’s cases, you risk incurring additional out-of-plan charges. You get charged for out-of-plan penalties if you click on content outside of your monthly plan. Those charges can get expensive, fast. This puts you in a difficult position. Sometimes you need content outside of your state, for example, to build a case to the court because your jurisdiction hasn’t ruled on an issue and another jurisdiction’s precedent can be persuasive authority. If you don’t look this up, opposing counsel almost certainly will—and you risk losing. (This is why we offer everything in our database for a single price, so you don’t have to make decisions like these.)
If you’re OK with the three-year lock-in, aware of the $25 a month extra fee, and ready to limit your research strictly to your plan—you should take advantage of the offer.
How to take advantage of LexisNexis’ new pricing (even if you’re stuck in a higher contract)
If you aren’t in a LexisNexis or Westlaw plan now, it’s easy: just go here, select your plan, enter your information, and you’re done.
If you’re currently in a plan with a legal research provider, there’s still hope. You should call your sales representative, let them know you are aware of the new pricing, and press them to match. Sales representatives often have wide latitude on pricing (more than they’re willing to let on at first), and the last thing they want to do is lose a client. Use the same negotiating skills you use in your everyday lawyering work. It’s unpleasant, but it can save you thousands.
Here are the phone numbers for the sales lines for LexisNexis and Westlaw:
- LexisNexis: 1-888-836-8116
- Westlaw: 1-800-328-4880
How LexisNexis’ pricing compares to alternatives
Another option is to switch to one of the new legal research providers like Casetext. You may find, as have thousands of law firms, that the newer products have a lot more to offer for a lot less money.
Indeed, part of why LexisNexis’ new pricing is such a big deal is that it finally lets you compare legal research tools on pricing, contract terms, coverage, and features transparently and easy.
Here’s a breakdown of how Casetext stacks up to the new plan:
- Pricing: Casetext offers all jurisdiction and all content, including briefs, for $65 a month (with an annual plan). For $420 more per year, you can only have one state’s laws with LexisNexis.
- Hidden and out-of-plan fees: With Casetext, there are none. You pay one price and get everything. LexisNexis will charge an additional $25/month administrative fee and charge per-use fees if you go out of plan that can add up to thousands of dollars.
- Term: With Casetext, you can subscribe either annually or month-to-month (for $89 a month). The idea is to give you flexibility and not lock you in to unnecessarily long terms. Practices change, especially at small firms—does it really make sense to lock in for three years? By contrast, the most attractive LexisNexis pricing requires a three-year minimum commitment.
- Coverage: With Casetext, you get everything in our database, which you can explore here. LexisNexis carefully circumscribes what you can access.
- Research technology: Casetext uses modern technologies to help you research easier, faster, and more accurately. CARA A.I. search, available only on Casetext, enables you to find cases that are on-point to the matter you’re working on, simply by dragging and dropping a PDF or Word document from your matter. You can see which passages in a case have been quoted or even italicized by subsequent precedent. You can find similar language to any paragraph you’re reading with a single click. And you can copy the correct citation every time for any case. There’s of course much, much more—we pride ourselves on innovation. (To learn more about these features, click here or, if you’d like to get a demonstration, click here.) LexisNexis and Westlaw are older, slower-moving companies and are rarely on the cutting-edge.
- Ease-of-use: Casetext was built more recently and with modern design considerations. Using it should feel as effortless as using Google—and as fast, too. As a result, those switching from LexisNexis have found the Casetext dramatically more usable.
But don’t take our word for it—give it a spin yourself here with a two-week free trial. If you like what you see, we have a plan that enables you to essentially get Casetext free for the time remaining on your LexisNexis or Westlaw contract.
LexisNexis’ new pricing is a major move for the legal research industry, and an intelligent response to pressure from newer legal research providers. We encourage you to take advantage of it if you want to work with LexisNexis—or even if you want to use it to reduce the pricing of your pre-existing contract.
But this might also be the time to evaluate alternatives. Even with LexisNexis’ new low pricing, there are still hidden fees, limited content, long terms, and you’ll be missing out on new technologies that make research easier, faster, and more on-point.