No, you can’t use your student Lexis account for work! (Well, except for when you can.)

Did everyone read the email a couple of weeks ago?  The one from Lexis on March 7th?  Did your students read it?

We have a problem every year explaining what students can use their Lexis and Westlaw accounts for in regards to school, work for credit, and just plain work – and now Lexis Advance has added a new wrinkle!

Here is the pertinent part of the email (in case you didn’t save it) –

“We have an exciting new Summer Access program this year for law students that will permit them to use Lexis Advance® not only for academic work, but any research conducted on behalf of their employer whether working in a paid or unpaid position at a law firm, court, government agency, or public interest organization.  They will have unlimited access using their Lexis Advance ID. …  We appreciate your assistance in ensuring that all law students working this summer know they have unlimited access to Lexis Advance for work and academic purposes and that they should take advantage of all training opportunities prior to starting their summer positions.”

Contrast this to  Westlaw’s User Agreement – which makes it clear that they still only allow use of Westlaw for educational purposes.

So, that means that there are now several levels of usage that students must keep in mind, depending on what or who they are doing research for. Where does that leave the student who has access to Westlaw and Lexis through their law school?  When can they use what?

Let’s review a basic synopsis of the possible ways that a student may want to use their accounts for research:

For academic purposes – examples: writing papers, researching for legal writing classes – students may use Lexis, Lexis Advance, Westlaw, and WestlawNext.

For educational purposes – examples: for credit internships, moot court competitions – students may use Lexis, Lexis Advance, Westlaw, and WestlawNext.

For not educational but not paid purposes (only for not for profit or governmental entities) – examples: working pro bono for a not for profit legal aid group for experience – students may not use Westlaw or WestlawNext.  Students may Lexis and Lexis Advance.

For 2013 summer work purposes (paid, not educational) – examples: working for a firm for the summer, volunteering for a firm but not for educational credit – students may not use Westlaw, WestlawNext, or Lexis.  Students may Lexis Advance. (Note: My representative told me that students can begin using both Lexis and Lexis Advance immediately for even paid work – but how would the students know that?)

For those of you with Bloomberg – they allow open access as well.  The competitive issues may prove interesting (and might – I am crossing my fingers – lead to more uniformity) in the long run.

Make sure you know the limitations of the student’s activities, especially as the rules change and different rules apply to different resources – things are changing quickly (don’t even get me started on the copier situation).

Why do we care? – To prevent things like this (click on the image for full size):


or to prevent a phone call to you from Westlaw or Lexis asking if you know what your students are researching.  Trust me, Lexis and Westlaw know what they are researching.  Librarians do get the call – “did you know so and so was researching something that looks personal?” or “was researching something that is currently being litigated.”

And finally, because attorneys will try to abuse it too, students need to know to protect themselves (and the library’s Lexis or Westlaw account).  Keep them informed – and make sure they read their email from Lexis!


About Shawn Friend

This entry was posted in Current Events, Legal Research and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to No, you can’t use your student Lexis account for work! (Well, except for when you can.)

  1. Reblogged this on Law Library of The Harry C. Moore Library & Information Centre and commented:
    Please read this article closely as it is related to the use of database for other purposes unrelated to school.

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