Legal research is difficult, but your product experience doesn't have to be

LexisNexis launches Lexis+ Canada, a solution 'unlike anything else on the market'

Legal research is difficult, but your product experience doesn't have to be

This article was produced in partnership with LexisNexis Canada.

Mallory Hendry of Canadian Lawyer sat down with Jeff Pfeifer, Chief Product Officer, LexisNexis North America, UK and Alan Votary, Head of Product Canada to discuss the launch of its newest product, developed specifically for Canadian lawyers.

Though Lexis+ Canada was only recently launched, the concept for it began several years ago with a comment from a client: “I know legal research is difficult, but does the product experience have to be as well?”

“And we thought, no it doesn’t – and it doesn’t have to be dull and boring either,” says Jeff Pfeifer, Chief Product Officer, LexisNexis North America, UK. “That became an aspirational target for us.”  

LexisNexis began researching what, exactly, users wanted in a legal research solution and three core drivers emerged: integrated work experiences to minimize context switching, a more modern visual design taking cues from best-in-class consumer products, and cutting-edge technology such as artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities to mine data for new insights. Ultimately the big picture objective was to build the next-generation product around how lawyers work.

To that end, the LexisNexis team assessed the workflow of legal professionals in all segments, industries, and areas of practice to ensure they addressed the unique needs of lawyers’ business, from those in large multinational firms to sole practitioners. Alan Votary, Head of Product Canada, says the result is a simple interface with multiple integrated experiences and next to no learning curve, meaning a faster ramp up and quicker integration into users’ workflows.

“It’s intuitive: we hear comments along the lines of, ‘I just looked for where I thought something should be and that’s where it was,’” Votary says. “Hearing we met our objective in aligning Lexis+ Canada with how lawyers work is the ultimate endorsement.”

Key features

Lexis+ Canada delivers an improved user experience via modern design elements that reduce visual clutter, but it’s not just a pretty face: it delivers unparalleled data-driven legal insights.

The new product provides enhanced functionality through the “Experience Dock” which serves as a starting point for legal tasks. Pfeifer notes that this holistic experience guides users from one place to next “so they can be more confident in the research they’ve conducted and not be concerned there’s a ‘needle in the haystack’ somewhere that was overlooked.” Lexis+ Canada also introduces enhanced search capabilities such as a Boolean Search Tree and Search Term Maps which both visually depict search terms to enable users to easily navigate results, identify trends, and refine searches.

“We’ve simplified the process by providing the greatest control in the least number of steps,” Votary says. “Users can edit the search without going back to home screen, refine by searching within results, and run a new search from the same window.”

Lexis+ Canada weaves in other features that bolster its efficiency, such as Practical Guidance to help users accomplish tasks with practice notes, precedents and task lists, a Legislative Pulse experience to monitor bills as they progress through federal and provincial legislatures, and Brief Analysis, which is new to the Canadian market and which they “expect to be a bit of a gamechanger,” says Votary.

Users can upload a document and receive a data-driven analysis that, among other things, extracts citations, identifies legal concepts and suggests other relevant cases that the brief does not include that might make the argument stronger. This saves considerable time in the legal research process and ultimately serves as a check to the research, building confidence that the user is putting their best information foot forward and improving the chance of a positive outcome for their client. Again, visual tools help with the navigation of these results, with Lexis+ Canada’s use of advanced data visualization representing an expansion of analytics capabilities in the Canadian legal market.

Building on technology-aided insights, there’s another feature that’s relatively new in market ­– the ability to ask a question. With Lexis Answers, a custom AI machine learning model scans all content and pulls out direct, relevant answers from the case law. This takes users a step beyond traditional research, serving as a sort of legal-specific Google, where the answers are curated and highly specialized for the legal market. LexisNexis expects this feature to have a significant impact.

“This speaks to multiple of the key points driving the development of this product: simplicity, efficiency, and an example of where we’re using data driven insights to make a better experience for our users,” Votary says.

Lexis+ Canada also brings to market a new set of application programming interface (API) capabilities, an extension of the Lexis+ capability and important technical enabler. Essentially “a pipe that connects our world to the client world, allowing them to do things with our data they weren’t previously able to do such as ingest it for use on a local data project,” Pfeifer notes that the ability to support in-house projects “is something we’re hearing about a lot from big government entities and larger firms.”

Customized to the Canadian legal landscape, the application interface was expanded to offer French for many of the solutions and, respectful of feedback from Canadian lawyers specifically, “we took extra technical steps to build certain parts of our technology infrastructure in Canada so that data stays in-country,” Pfeifer says, adding users can “feel confident they’re compliant with national laws around data management and that privacy standards are maintained when using Lexis+.”

Global reach

Another major objective for LexisNexis was the unification of its product experiences across the board. Lexis+ Canada lives within a family of products across many countries and the organization and presentation of information is consistent across them all, meeting the needs of users who wanted greater consistency and the ability to move seamlessly between jurisdictions.

Canada has historically trailed some other legal markets in access to certain technical capabilities that drive a significantly improved research experience, and LexisNexis’ focus on developing product solutions with a global focus that bridges that gap. Lexis+ Canada introduces a technology framework and a modern, cloud-based infrastructure that allows it to grow as technology affords new opportunities in the space.

“We see a tremendous opportunity to leverage ongoing development and continue enriching and refining the product experience for subscribers,” Pfeifer says. “That’s the goal going forward. We already have some exciting things planned for later this year that will further expand the Lexis+ Canada experience and bring more value to our customers.”

For Votary, seeing Lexis+ Canada hit the market was seminal for his customers. The concept was a fully integrated product in an easy-to-use format that brought desired content to Canadian lawyers’ fingertips – and that’s exactly what they’ve delivered.

“This is the work I get to do that makes me excited: it hits on all the right notes,” he says. “It’s innovative, you know users are going to achieve better outcomes with it, it’s visually appealing, and it works well.”

LexisNexis Canada is committed to delivering information and workflow solutions to Canadian legal professionals to make their work lives easier. LexisNexis®Canada is part of LexisNexis® Legal & Professional, a leading global provider of information and technology solutions that enable professionals in legal, corporate, tax, government, academic and non-profit organizations to make informed decisions and achieve better business outcomes. Try Lexis+ Canada today.

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