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If Google IPOs, can it use the money to buy Lexis and Westlaw?

If you're a frequent Google user, check out the new Google Deskbar, an app which sits on your taskbar and lets you search without opening a browser window. Good for general research, and the hotkeys for definitions (Ctrl-D) and thesaurus (Ctrl-T) will eliminate any need for your dictionary. (Link from Inter Alia.

For a long time, I've admired Google's ability to thrive by continually getting the basics right. Their service is an excellent search engine, a model of usability, and yet manages to convey an identity through subtle branding. If these guys do IPO, I can only hope the money is used to buy out a service like Westlaw or Lexis, who could learn a lot from these guys.

For instance, instead of pointless rewards programs and endless bribes of free coffee mugs, how about putting $10,000 into development of a taskbar-based application that would let me search for citations quickly and easily without going through an endless and non-helpful succession of web-based forms? I mean, far be it from me to suggest that either corporation ought to have as their core-competency being an effective and efficient information service, as opposed to a distributor of marketing goods, but it's a modest proposal.

Googlespider, feel free to take this message back to your masters: I'll be looking for summer legal work, and if you're considering making life as good for legal researchers as you have for web searchers, I'd be happy to aid your cause.

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Comments

thanks for the google tips.
Wow. To think these services (Lexis and Westlaw) are free for use in law school, so that we can do searches from the comfort of our home, instead of having to go to the law library. In addition, they give us free stuff for doing research that we have to do anyway. And you're whining that they aren't as efficient as Google... damn.
Indeed. I used to design web systems for a living--poorly designed ones deserve criticism no matter what they give you. And somehow, being given free stuff in order to secure the market dominance of a major corporation doesn't instill a sense of gratitude in me. One advantage of being a free-market capitalist: I know they're not doing it out of the goodness of their hearts.
It's not really relevant what their intent is, we still benefit. Yes, a toolbar would be great, but Lexis and Westlaw have to spend resources on securing and updating content, whereas google is more of a laboratory setting for search engine ideas. I love Google, don't get me wrong, I just think Lexis and Westlaw have different priorities.
FWIW, I believe they do have similar items to what you're describing for law firms. We get Research Service Lite so we're hopeless little addicts by the time we are enmeshed in firms.

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