As of November 1st, JMLS students, staff, and faculty now have access to LoisLaw. LoisLaw is a “tier-two” legal research service. By “tier-two,” I mean that it has less content and fewer editorial enhancements than commercial services like Lexis, Westlaw, BNA or CCH. But it has far more coverage and is far better for legal research than a random Internet search engine. Tier-two research products are becoming popular search tools at law firms because the costs are fixed. Searching Loislaw will not generate any “suprise” client charges. Services like Loislaw, FastCase and VersusLaw are becoming the new “secondary sources” in the real world. I think it is fair–at this point in its development–to describe Loislaw as the “cadillac” of tier-two services.
Loislaw provides access to cases from every jurisdiction. For Illinois, state court coverage begins in 1925; This coverage should be sufficient to answer most questions. It also provides searching and browsing access to statutes and not just a link to a state legislature website as some tier-two services do. One great feauture is the access provided to Aspen treatises in a number of areas related to business, employment, and civil practice. In fact it provides access to Cleary and Graham’s Handbook of Illinois Evidence, an invaluable resource for Illinois practitioners.