why i hate westlaw

I have had a seemingly irrational dislike for Westlaw for the last twenty years.

More rationally, I have found that Westlaw's vaunted keyword system is imprecise enough to be useless. The points I want to research always seem to have a keyword which runs to four decimal places.

As I think of it, the fundamental problem with the keyword system is that it was built a long time ago, not unlike Roget's Thesaurus, which acquired its basic structure in 1852. Distinctions and categories which once made sense no longer do, and new distinctions and categories come to be, but the old superstructure has to remain. In that respect, Westlaw is a directory system, like Yahoo!, going up against a Boolean system, like Lexis-Nexis.

In the hands of a reasonably skilled user, Boolean searches work better every time, another reason I love google. My issues, as they say, with Reed-Elsevier a/k/a the Borg are another rant for another day. Suffice it to say it's not their databases I dislike.

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