This guide focuses on subscription based legal research databases. See the Franklin County Law Library's guide on Free Websites for Legal Research for free internet sources. Also, remember that it is often cost-effective to start your research in books. Central Ohio attorneys can obtain a Franklin County Law Library library card and check out books from us. We are also open to the public for in house use of books. We have free access to Lexis and Westlaw in our computer labs. The Ohio Primary Law and Ohio Secondary Law Guides give thorough descriptions of what is available for researching Ohio law. Also see the e-Books via OverDrive libguide for information on borrowing ebooks from the Franklin County Law Library.
In academia, students have the luxury of free LexisNexis and Westlaw. In the practicing world, firm economics limit the resources available to clerks and associates. While most firms pay a flat fee for Lexis and Westlaw (amount paid by the firm does not increase with usage), cost effectiveness is still important because:
1. A firm may purchase only part of Lexis or Westlaw, for example, Ohio materials, and must pay extra for off-plan materials accessed.
2. Firms may bill back to the client based upon the number of searches or number of documents retrieved.
3. The usage rates for Westlaw may impact the amount Westlaw will charge for next year's contract. Lexis says they no longer do this. Ask your sales representative whether this applies.
The techniques and tips offered here should help you conduct legal research in an efficient and cost-effective manner.