WestDockets Takes Aim at Lexis
West Group and LexisNexis are the McDonald's and Burger King of the legal tech world. When one rolls out something new, the other usually isn't far behind. Now the companies are competing on another front: electronic docket access.
Lawyers often check dockets from cases they're not involved in. They monitor opposing counsel's cases or watch how lawyers are handling cases similar to their own. Both companies think lawyers will pay big bucks for the ability to search and retrieve court docket sheets online.
LexisNexis drew the first sword last fall when it bought the Bellevue, Wash.-based Courtlink Corp. At the time, Courtlink was the leader in electronic docketing. It offered the ability to search dockets in all of the federal courts and more than 3,000 state courts.
Now West unveils its own docketing service, called WestDockets. It's not as comprehensive as LexisNexis' product (now called eAccess). WestDockets covers about 70 percent of the nearly 200 federal courts and one state system: New York.
Lexis' eAccess is cheaper than WestDockets. West charges $30 per search; eAccess charges $5.50. "When we bought Courtlink, we bought the crown jewel of this industry," says Ann Fullenkamp, the chief operating officer of LexisNexis/Courtlink. "And right now, West is playing a big game of catch-up."
Maybe so. But West knows what this battle holds. The company that builds the stronger brand-name in docket access will likely gain a leg up in the race to sell access to other court documents, like motions and briefs.
-- Ashby Jones
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