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What is Westlaw?

By Felicia Dye
Updated May 16, 2024
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Westlaw is an online research tool with international capabilities. The service caters to the needs and interests of legal industries. Westlaw claims to have the most comprehensive collection of legal content in the world. It maintains tens of thousands of databases that include court documents, treatises, and archaic legislation.

Westlaw is owned by Thomson Reuters, a large information corporation. The service is generally available only through subscription. This service can offer legal professionals around the globe access to an immense variety of current and past information. One aspect of the service is to provide a comprehensive collection of legal news. Westlaw collects information from news sources such as The Economist and Financial Times.

One of the most notable aspects of this service, however, is its immense legal database. This service has collections of case law and statutes from sources as diverse as the United States (U.S.), Hong Kong, and the European Union (EU). In many instances, the legal content available for a nation spans more than a century. Westlaw also provides other types of legal information, such as access to articles from prominent legal publications such as Harvard Law Review and Hong Kong Legal Journal.

This service enables a person to easily do a great deal of research that could otherwise require a lot of time, energy, and resources. For example, if a person is using the service to research a particular statute, in addition to the statute itself, her search results can yield other important information. This includes cases which have interpreted the law and citations for all of the information found. There are a variety of search techniques designed and based upon the needs and habits of legal professionals.

An advantage to using Westlaw as opposed to traditional research methods is convenience. Subscribers can access Westlaw at any time and from any place with an Internet connection. This service has many features that attempt to make it customer-friendly and efficient. These include Chargeback, which allows a customer to track his billable time. The service also provides legal updates, which can keep subscribers abreast of developing information or breaking news.

Westlaw is not only used by legal professionals. People from other walks of life may also use the service. Subscriptions to the service are often purchased by public and private educational institutions, public and private libraries, and government agencies.

MyLawQuestions is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By anon966228 — On Aug 18, 2014

Can I do legal research through Westlaw from my tablet? Or do I need a laptop with, for instance, Silverlight to be able to do it?

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