Taking the Reins: Teaching Lexis and Westlaw the Librarian Way

By , February 2, 2011 5:03 pm

by Kristine Lloyd

Even though it’s a little like taking exams after the holidays, I must admit that I like the January start dates for our new associates. It makes the long, resolute month a bit more ceremonious. It’s like a houseful of new guests to whom you get to show your wares and tell your stories.

As part of our first-year associate orientation, I teach Cost-Effective Strategies for Using Lexis and Westlaw. While I have met many a rep who can conduct a mean training class, we decided a couple of years ago that it might be an interesting experiment to teach our own cost-effective research class. After smoothing out the process in Seattle, we were able to offer the training firmwide this year, with local librarians available to answer follow-up questions. I thought I’d mention a few of the reasons why I enjoy teaching this class and why you might consider incorporating such a class into your first-year orientation program.

The greatest advantage to teaching the class in-house is the preexisting relationship you have with your first-years. They are comfortable asking you questions that they might not want to ask a rep. We always enter into a fruitful discussion of our contract.

Another advantage is that you can address contract pricing specifically, as opposed to speaking in vagaries the way the reps are forced to. We conduct test searches and show a chart of pre- and post-discount charges to give new associates an idea of the actual database and research costs. It’s also a great way to provide them with a concrete visual of the differences between hourly and transactional pricing.

Addressing both Lexis and Westlaw in one class is a challenge to be sure, but it also presents an opportunity to highlight the similarities between the two, especially for those who have had a tendency to use only one system during their law school tenure. I encourage them to at least familiarize themselves with both research systems, especially for the different treatise coverage.

As with all of the classes we teach, the real gain is marketing ourselves as experts on these services. We have great, knowledgeable reps, but I ascribe to the “see one, do one, teach one” surgical dogma. I like to watch, learn, experiment and then teach our attorneys. It’s a great way to inspire confidence and insure that you have loyal customers for life.

One Response to “Taking the Reins: Teaching Lexis and Westlaw the Librarian Way”

  1. Jan Lawrence says:

    I agree! (Belatedly…) It is also works well to let the new associates know about other cost effective resources the firm has in place of some portions of Westlaw or Lexis.

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