LexisNexis has quietly introduced transparent, flat-rate pricing for one- and two-lawyer law firms, with plans starting at $75 a month. This is good news for solo and small firms, and reflects the increasing array of legal research options they can choose from. But exactly how do those options stack up?
The long-established legal research companies LexisNexis and Thomson Reuters face growing competition from alternative upstarts, especially in the small-firm market. Last year, seeking to expand its sales among smaller firms, Casetext introduced Casetext for Small Law, featuring a reduction in its monthly subscription price to as low as $65 for the first attorney and then $55 for others.
Meanwhile, Fastcase and Casemaker continue to offer free access to their services through affinity deals with bar associations and low subscription rates for attorneys who want to purchase access. Both companies continue to add content and features designed to make themselves more competitive with Lexis Advance and Westlaw.
Given this, I wondered how these subscription deals stack up against each other. Here is what I found. Scroll down further for a chart comparing prices.
Let’s start with the new pricing from Lexis Advance. That $75-a-month plan comes with a couple conditions. First, to get that price, you need to sign up for three years. If you want to sign up for just a year, it is $108 a month. Second, it covers only your state’s cases and statutes. To get both state and federal, you will need the next pricing tier, which is $125 a month for three years, or $148.84 a month for one year. A premium plan adds expanded access to law reviews and journals and costs $200 a month for three years or $246 a month for one year.
If your research takes you outside your plan, then a whole other pricing schedule kicks in, with document charges for accessing different types of research materials ranging from $10 to $289.
On top of that, there is a monthly “administration charge” of $25 for firms of up to five attorneys. It appears that this is a per-firm charge, not a per-attorney charge.
Interestingly, it appears that LexisNexis raised these prices since first introducing this plan in April. An April 25 Casetext post about the new Lexis plans showed lower prices, with that $75 plan I mentioned above costing just $55.
Westlaw’s pricing page shows that its lowest-tier plan for solos, called Essentials, is $96 a month and requires a one-year contract. For two attorneys, that plan is $130 a month. It includes only cases and statutes for your state. The next tier, Plus, adds federal cases for the federal circuit in which you practice and various other federal and state materials.
The cost of the Plus plan varies according to the state in which you practice. In Massachusetts where I am, it costs $292 a month for one attorney or $393 a month for two, with a one-year contract. In California, the monthly cost is $356 for one attorney or $481 for two. In Idaho, the monthly plan is $230 for one attorney and $309 for two.
If you want a plan that includes all state and federal caselaw, Westlaw offers “custom” options that allow you to choose the materials you need. I created a custom subscription that includes all federal and state cases, but no secondary materials such as treatises. The cost of that in three states I checked — California, Idaho and Massachusetts — is $277 a month for one attorney with a one-year contract or $374 for two attorneys.
All of these prices are for “classic” Westlaw, not the new Westlaw Edge, and apply only to new customers.
The pricing introduced last year by Casetext is straightforward. For one attorney, it is $65 a month if billed annually, or $89 if billed monthly. Each addition attorney (up to 10) is $55 per month annually, or $73 if billed monthly. Paralegals and support staff are free.
The Casetext subscription includes unlimited access to all its databases and features, including all federal and state case law, federal and state statutes, federal regulations and — as of this week — all state regulations, some administrative agency decisions, its CARA A.I. service and its new SmartCite feature.
Many lawyers are entitled to free access to Fastcase and Casemaker through affinity deals the companies have with bar associations. Here in Massachusetts where I practice, for example, I get free access to Fastcase as a member of the Massachusetts Bar Association. But if you do not have free access to Fastcase or Casemaker and want to subscribe, both companies offer options.
For lawyers in smaller firms, Fastcase has two plans. Its Appellate plan is $65 a month or $695 a year (about $58 a month) and includes federal and state appellate cases, statutes and regulations. Its Premium plan is $95 a month or $995 a year (about $83 a month) and adds federal district and bankruptcy courts.
Fastcase has been developing an expanding collection of secondary content from bar associations, legal publishers and other sources. Access to these materials is not included in its monthly subscriptions, but users can purchase individual subscriptions based on their interests through the Fastcase eBook Store.
For those who wish to purchase access to Casemaker, the price depends on the state in which you practice. For most states, there are two subscription options. The base level gets you basic Casemaker for $60 a month or $600 a year ($50 a month). The higher level, with access to the full CasemakerPro, costs $95 a month or $950 a year (about $79 a month), and adds features such as Casecheck+, Citecheck and Casemaker Digest.
For Massachusetts, where I am, the price is lower, with access to the full CasemakerPro for $30 a month or $300 a year ($25 a month).
Comparing this plans is not apples to apples, since each varies in the coverage and materials provided. But if a one- or two-lawyer firm wanted a plan that provided access to all federal and state appellate cases and legislation, here is what it would cost per month for a monthly subscription or per year based on a annual subscription.
|One Lawyer||Two Lawyers|
Some notes about these numbers:
- Lexis Advance. The minimum plan is annual, so there is no month-to-month subscription. Access to federal and state materials requires the Enhanced plan, for which the minimum one-year contract is $148.84 a month for one attorney or $228 a month for two attorneys, plus a $25 per month administrative fee. So the monthly cost is $173.84 for one or $253 for two. The annual cost are those amounts multiplied by 12.
- Westlaw. I used the cost of the custom plan that I created to include all federal and state case law and statutes. Additional materials are also included.
- Casetext. The monthly cost is $89 for one attorney and another $73 for the second attorney, for a total of $162. The annual cost is $65 x 12 for one attorney plus $55 x 12 for the second attorney.
- Fastcase. All Fastcase pricing is monthly, with no minimum contract required. The price shown above is for its lowest tier Appellate plan.
- Casemaker. The prices shown are for its lowest tier and apply in the majority of states. It appears that attorneys in states where the bar offers Casemaker are not able to purchase it on their own.
I cannot emphasize enough that price is only part of the comparison among these services. Each offers different collections of materials and different tools to assist in your legal research. If you are in the market for a legal research service, you should carefully evaluate what each offers and whether it matches your needs.
Related: LawNext Episode 3: Casetext’s Founders on their Quest to Make Legal Research Affordable.