Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Lexis Practice Advisor and Practical Law

Lexis Practice Advisor (LPA) and Practical Law (PL) are two products sold by LexisNexis and Thomson Reuters. Members of the Western New England University School of Law community have access to both of these products. The advertising literature for both of these products suggest they are intended to be practice oriented. Both companies employ attorneys who maintain these materials constantly. Both products offer forms with integrated practice notes and checklists. The products seem to have quite a bit in common so I am going to look at one form covering the same subject from each and discuss differences.

Since, each service mostly has the same coverage in terms of practice areas,* I will look at a form from a practice area common to both products—real estate.  In particular, I will be looking at a ground lease under each system.

In LPA, I was able to drill down to ground leases. From the LPA front page I selected Real Estate, then scrolled down and selected Ground Lease. The top item displayed is an expert form titled “Ground Lease (Tenant Constructed Improvements)” and this is the one I am using. In PL, I drilled down as follows: from PL’s main page I selected Real Estate and then selected Commercial Leasing. From there I searched for “Ground Lease.” The top document returned is a Ground Lease classified as a Standard Document.

Both offer a usable form with comparable download options. Most striking about LPA’s form is it includes information about the form’s authors by name and links to bios of each author. LPA also includes section specific drafting notes throughout the form. You can view the drafting notes by hovering over the icon. LPA’s form also has optional clauses that can be inserted in the form and editable fields,** both of which are included when the form is downloaded.

LPA's icons

The first thing I noticed about PL’s form is a box at the top of the form labeled “Note: Read This Before Using Document.” Clicking on it revealed an outline of important considerations for drafting a ground lease. Other notes embedded throughout the document are related to the sections in which they are found. Another great feature of PL’s form is that it has a Table of Contents on the left hand side of the window. Clicking on a topic within the Table of Contents will bring the user to that place within the form.

PL's note icon

In comparing the two, I felt both products could be improved by implementing the best features of the other. LPA was easier to navigate from the front page to the form.  I also liked LPA’s ability to download a customized document. Most of all, I really like the explicit statement about who is creating the content. The document itself on PL is a bit easier to navigate. I also liked the overview of the law embedded at the top of PL’s form.
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* PL has a few more categories listed as practice areas than LPA.

** Unfortunately, the editable fields are not linked (i.e. filling in the first landlord field does not insert the landlords name into subsequent fields.)