T-4 weeks. And counting.

The librarian in me was fascinated to note that there does not seem to be consensus on what the T stands for in T-(whatever). Might be time, might be test, or might be takeoff. There is an X- as well, possibly. And note that T- is pronounced ‘T minus.’

That aside, all of the above terms work in my concerns about what happens in four weeks – the official end of Westlaw Classic for law schools. You all have seen the notification by now:

The move is on….

As of Tuesday, July 01, 2014, WestlawNext will be your research platform and Westlaw Classic will no longer be accessible for your account.

We trust you will find WestlawNext a more powerful and efficient platform for your research. If you have any questions or need research help, please contact the Reference Attorneys at 1‑800‑733‑2889 (1‑800‑REF‑ATTY).

At least, I have seen it. And I admit, I did not do my due diligence. I stopped showing Westlaw Classic (I hadn’t been showing it much anyway), I concentrated on process (see my last rant for more on that and for equal opportunity Lexis criticism), and I didn’t question that I would be doing my students a serious disservice by accepting the limitation on my account to only include WestlawNext.

Until about ten days ago. The day I learned that although law schools will be losing access to Westlaw Classic, law firms and offices will not. The afternoon that a student, who is working all summer (and yes, that includes days in July and August) in a major prosecuting office still ONLY has access to Westlaw Classic. And, according to West, that office is going to continue to only have Westlaw Classic for the foreseeable future.

My student needs research help, and believe me, that student is not the only one. Process is great, and the student really did adapt quickly to using Westlaw Classic. But that was facilitated by the fact that I could send screenshots indicating where items were located. I could push information to that student to get the research on the right track. Why?

BECAUSE I COULD SEE THE SAME THING THE STUDENT WAS LOOKING AT. As of July 1, I will no longer be able to do this. At all. West suggests instead that students access ‘tutorial videos’ that will be available on how to use Westlaw Classic. I am super, super angry about this, in case the all caps did not tip you off. This is unacceptable. I don’t expect to have Westlaw Classic forever, but I do need it while lawyers are still using it in large offices.  I don’t need Westlaw Classic because I want to use it; I have actually become a convert to the cult of WestlawNext. I do need it, however, to be a good teacher and a good librarian. When West takes away my ability to help struggling, nervous, working, summer law externs, they make a potent enemy. I can show my students process on much more workable, stable, and available systems that are more economical anyway.

Fastcase and Casemaker – you will be my new BFFs. Sorry it took me so long to be a good friend.

Do any of you support West’s decision to terminate academic access to Westlaw Classic at this time?  If so, please share your thoughts on why it’s a good idea.



About Shawn Friend

This entry was posted in Legal Research Instruction, Patron Services, Teaching (general) and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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