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Bloomberg Law, Lexis and Westlaw Compared: Overview

A comparison of the three largest legal databases, Bloomberg Law, Lexis and Westlaw. Lexis Advance and WestlawNext. Shepards, Bcite and Keycite Compared. Tips and tutorials. Search language charts - terms and connectors & field searches.

Employment Tip

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Law students should strive for proficiency in all legal research platforms. It's difficult to predict which platform a prospective employer may license, so having expertise in all systems increases your skills and attractiveness as a prospective employee.

This guide is designed to help users easily switch these platforms.

Westlaw Classic

Bloomberg, Lexis and Westlaw Compared

There are three major legal databases:

  • LexisNexis
  • Westlaw
  • Bloomberg Law

What is the difference between Lexis, Westlaw and Bloomberg?  In a nutshell:

  • All three systems are similar because they contain cases, statutes, regulations, law review articles, legal books and practice materials, and news. However, the books and practice materials are different publications by different authors on each system. At the moment, Lexis and Westlaw contain more books and practice materials than Bloomberg.  The systems mostly contain the same cases, but there may be a case that is on one system and not the others.
     
  • Lexis and Westlaw have some editorial features to aid legal research which Bloomberg does not. Lexis and Westlaw have annotated statutes and more cases have headnotes. However, Bloomberg will show cases that cited the statute.
     
  • Bloomberg is better for searching court dockets, and has great news coverage.
     
  • Students may use Bloomberg for employment purposes.  Westlaw is for academic use only, with some exceptions.  In the summer  students may use Lexis Advance for any purpose, including employment.
     
  • All of the platforms allow for terms and connectors searching (and, or, phrase and proximity searching).  Bloomberg Law does not have natural language, Google-like searching, while the other two platforms do.   The terms and connectors (search language) used by each system vary. 
     
  • All these systems have a means to check and see if a case is still good law - Shepard's on Lexis, Keycite on Westlaw and BCite on Bloomberg.
     
  • All three services have an all-in-one search box, ability to post notes on cases and other documents, ability to save documents in folders, and alert searches. (This applies to the new systems - WestlawNext and Lexis Advance, as well as Bloomberg).
     
  • Each system has different features or "whistles and bells".

Lexis Advance and WestlawNext being more similar to each other than Bloomberg, we prepared a summary of the Differences Between Lexis Advance and WestlawNext.