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VERALEX 2: A Computer Assisted Legal Research Service

Magazine article Information Today

VERALEX 2: A Computer Assisted Legal Research Service

Article excerpt

VERALEX 2: A Computer Assisted Legal Research Service

Law offices have many computer assisted research services from which to choose. Some are specifically legal (e.g., Lexis or Westlaw), while others carry information that is generally tangential to legal research (e.g., Dialog). Some distinguish themselves by content, while others distinguish themselves by access. VERALEX 2 is a computer assisted legal research (CARL) that distinguishes itself primarily by access and the costs of using the service.

VERALEX 2 is described as "electronic affiliate" of the Lawyers Cooperative Publishing Co. (LCP), Bancroft Whitney (BW), and the Research Institute of America (RIA). These three firms have combined resources to create a CALR product that some law offices may find useful.

Through VERALEX 2 (VX2), online legal researchers can access several specialized legal information services (e.g., SHOWME, AUTO-CITE, the American Law Reports, and VUSTAT). VX2 also provides access to the Lexis research service.

The SHOWME, AUTO-CITE, American Law Reports (ALR), and VUSTAT portions of VX2 have four major functions. SHOWME is one of the document retrieval portions of VX2. Once online, researchers can request any document on the system by simply entering its citation. The body of information available through SHOWME is approximately the same as what is currently on Lexis.

AUTO-CITE is a citation verification service. Generally speaking, most legal researchers use citation services like AUTO-CITE for one of two reasons. The first is to make certain the court decision they have found and that they cite in a brief or opinion is still good case law (meaning that it has not been reversed or otherwise changed by a subsequent court decision). AUTO-CITE is one of the citation services whose primary purpose is to tell legal researchers whether or not the precedential authority of the case is still good.

Another major reason legal researchers use citator services is to locate other cases or legal information that may be relevant to the legal issues at hand. While AUTO-CITE does not provide researchers with a list of every case that has cited a particular case, it does tell them whether or not a case was cited in an American Law Report annotation (ALR).

The ALR portion of VX2 gives researchers access to the full text of the annotations of ALR 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and Federal. ALR annotations are complete statements of all the case law on a given legal topic or issue.

VUSTAT is similar to LEXSTAT on Lexis. Researchers with citations to federal and selected state statutes can use VUSTAT to retrieve the full-text of federal and state statutes.

VX2 also offers access to Lexis, Mead Data Central's massive computer assisted legal research system. But potential subscribers should be aware that the search costs for Lexis research conducted through VX2 is more expensive than Lexis research conducted by users who subscribe directly to the Lexis service.

VX2 differs from Lexis and Westlaw in three important ways: overall purpose, cost, and flexibility. VX2's most prominent purpose is as a case or legal material retrieval tool. The SHOWME, AUTO-CITE, ALR, and VUSTAT portions of VX2 do not provide full-text computer assisted legal research in the same breadth and depth as Lexis or Westlaw.

But the costs of using VX2 as a cite verification or online retrieval service can in some instances be lower than using Lexis or Westlaw for the same purpose. The SHOWME, AUTO-CITE, and ALR portions of VX2 cost $40.00/hour online time (or $.67/-minute), plus a per document request charge.

Like Lexis and Westlaw, VERALEX 2 also charges .02/line for printing or retrieving documents.

In many respects, VX2 is very similar to a Lexis Membership Group subscription. With Lexis, membership group suscriptions have a fixed monthly fee ($10.60 or $25.00--though these costs can vary according to the group). …

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