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LexisNexis is a corporation providing computer-assisted legal research (CALR) as well as business research and risk management services.[clarification needed] During the 1970s, LexisNexis pioneered the electronic accessibility of legal and journalistic documents. As of 2006 , the company had the world's largest electronic database for legal and public-records related information.
According to Trudi Bellardo Hahn and Charles P. Bourne, LexisNexis (originally founded as LEXIS) is historically significant because it was the first of the early information services to actually realize the vision of a future in which large populations of end users would directly interact with computer databases, rather than going through professional intermediaries like librarians. Other early information services in the 1970s crashed into financial, structural, and technological constraints and were forced to retreat to the professional intermediary model until the early 1990s.
The history of LexisNexis is quite complicated. In a nutshell, LexisNexis as we know it today was born when a team of enterprising New York consultants swooped in to reboot a promising but dysfunctional Ohio project, which in turn had been inspired by an entirely separate research project across the state line in Pennsylvania.
The LexisNexis story begins in western Pennsylvania in 1956, when attorney John Horty began to explore the use of CALR technology in support of his work on comparative hospital law at the University of Pittsburgh Health Law Center. Horty was surprised to discover the extent to which the laws governing hospital administration varied from one state to another across the United States and began building a computer database to help him keep track of it all.
In 1965, Horty's pioneering work inspired the Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA) to develop its own separate CALR system, Ohio Bar Automated Research (OBAR). In 1967, the OSBA signed a contract with Data Corporation, a local defense contractor, to build OBAR based on the OSBA's written specifications. Data proceeded to implement OBAR on Data Central, an interactive full-text search system originally developed in 1964 as Recon Central to help U.S. Air Force intelligence analysts search text summaries of the contents of aerial and satellite reconnaissance photographs. (Before computer vision was invented, text summaries were manually prepared by enlisted personnel called "photo interpreters"; analysts then used those summaries as a catalog to retrieve photographs from which they could draw inferences about enemy strategy.)
In 1968, paper manufacturer Mead Corporation purchased Data Corporation for $6 million to gain control of its inkjet printing technology. Mead hired the Arthur D. Little consulting firm to study the business possibilities for the Data Central technology. Arthur D. Little dispatched a team of consultants from New York to Ohio led by H. Donald Wilson. Mead asked for a practicing lawyer on the team, so the team included Jerome Rubin, a Harvard-trained attorney with 20 years of experience. The resulting study concluded that the nonlegal market was nonexistent, the legal market had potential, and OBAR needed to be rebuilt to profitably exploit that market. At the time, OBAR searches often took up to five hours to complete if more than one user was online, and its original terminals were noisy Teletypes with slow transmission rates of 10 characters per second. The original OBAR terminals were belatedly replaced with CRT text terminals in 1970. OBAR also had quality control issues; Rubin later recalled that its data was "unacceptably dirty."
In February 1970, Mead reorganized Data Corporation's Information Systems Division into a new Mead subsidiary called Mead Data Central (MDC). Wilson and Rubin, respectively, were installed as president and vice president. A year later, Mead bought out the OSBA's interests in the OBAR project, and OBAR disappears from the historical record after that point.
After Wilson was put in charge, he turned out to be too reluctant to implement his own study's harsh recommendation to entirely abandon the OBAR/Data Central work to date and start over. In September 1971, Mead's fed-up management relegated Wilson to vice chairman of the board (i.e., a nonoperational role) and elevated Rubin to president of MDC. Rubin promptly pushed the legacy Data Central technology back to Mead Corporation. Under a newly organized division, Mead Technical Laboratories, Data Central continued to operate as a service bureau for nonlegal applications until 1980.
With that out of the way, Rubin hired a new team to build from scratch an entirely new information service dedicated exclusively to legal research. He coined a new name: LEXIS, from "lex," the Latin word for law, and "IS" for "information service." After several iterations, the original functional and performance specifications were finalized by Rubin and executive vice president Bob Bennett by the late summer of 1972. System designer Edward Gottsman supervised the implementation of the specifications as working computer code. At the same time, Rubin and Bennett also orchestrated the necessary keyboarding of the legal materials to be provided through LEXIS, and designed a business plan, marketing strategy, and training program. MDC's corporate headquarters were moved to New York City, while the data center stayed in Dayton, Ohio.
As noted above, Lexis was the first information service to directly serve end users. Rubin later explained that they were trying "to crack the librarian barrier. Our goal was to get a LEXIS terminal on every lawyer's desk." To persuade American lawyers to use LEXIS (at a time when computer literacy was rare), MDC targeted them with aggressive marketing, sales, and training campaigns.
On April 2, 1973, MDC publicly launched LEXIS at a press conference in New York City, with libraries of New York and Ohio case law as well as a separate library of federal tax materials. By the end of that year, the LEXIS database had reached two billion characters in size and had added the entire United States Code, as well as the United States Reports from 1938 through 1973.
By 1974, LEXIS was running on an IBM 370/155 computer in Ohio supported by a set of IBM 3330 disk storage units which could store up to about 4 billion characters. Its communications processor could handle 62 terminals simultaneously with transmission speed at 120 characters per second per user. On this platform, LEXIS was able to execute over 90% of searches within less than five seconds. Over 100 text terminals had been deployed to various legal offices (i.e., law firms and government agencies) and there were already over 4,000 trained LEXIS users.
By 1975, the LEXIS database had grown to 5 billion characters and it could handle up to 200 terminals simultaneously. By 1976, the LEXIS database included case law from six states, plus various federal materials. MDC turned a profit for the first time in 1977.
In 1980, LEXIS completed its hand-keyed electronic database of all extant U.S. federal and state cases. The NEXIS service, added that same year, provided journalists with a searchable database of news articles.
In September 1981, Rubin and several of his allies (including Bennett and Gottsman) left Mead Data Central to pursue other opportunities.
When Toyota launched the Lexus line of luxury vehicles in 1987, Mead Data Central sued for trademark infringement on the grounds that consumers of upscale products (such as lawyers) would confuse "Lexus" with "Lexis". A market research survey asked consumers to identify the spoken word "Lexis". Survey results showed that a nominal number of people thought of the computerized legal search system; a similarly small number thought of Toyota's luxury car division. A judge ruled against Toyota, and the company appealed the decision. Mead lost on appeal in 1989 when the Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit held that there was little chance of consumer confusion. Today, the two companies have an amicable business relationship, and in 2002 implemented a joint promotion called "Win a Lexus on Lexis!"
In December 1994, Mead sold the LexisNexis system to Reed Elsevier for $1.5 billion. The U.S. state of Illinois subsequently audited Mead's income tax returns and charged Mead an additional $4 million in income tax and penalties for the sale of LexisNexis; Mead paid the tax under protest, then sued for a refund in an Illinois state court. On April 15, 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed with Mead that the Illinois courts had incorrectly applied the Court's precedents on whether Illinois could constitutionally apply its income tax to Mead, an out-of-state, Ohio-based corporation. The Court reversed and remanded so that the lower courts could apply the correct test and determine whether Mead and Lexis were a "unitary" business.
In 1998, Reed Elsevier acquired Shepard's Citations and made it part of LexisNexis. Before electronic citators like Westlaw's KeyCite appeared, Shepard's was the only legal citation service which attempted to provide comprehensive coverage of American law.
In 2000, LexisNexis purchased RiskWise, a St. Cloud, Minnesota company. Also in 2000, the company acquired the American legal publisher Matthew Bender from Times Mirror. In 2002, it acquired a Canadian research database company, Quicklaw. In 2002, LexisNexis acquired the Ohio legal publisher Anderson Publishing. In 2004, Reed Elsevier Group, parent company of LexisNexis, purchased Seisint, Inc, from founder Michael Brauser of Boca Raton, Florida. Seisint housed and operated the Multistate Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange (MATRIX).
On March 9, 2005, LexisNexis announced the possible theft of personal information of some Seisint users. It was originally estimated that 32,000 users were affected, but that number greatly increased to over 310,000. Affected persons were provided with free fraud insurance and credit bureau reports for a year. However, no reports of identity theft or fraud were discovered to have stemmed from the security breach.
Sheshunoff Information Services, A.S. Pratt, & Alex Information (collectively, SIS), founded in 1972, is a print and electronic publishing company that provides information to financial and legal professionals in the banking industry, as well as online training and tools for financial institutions. SIS was founded in 1971 by Alex and Gabrielle Sheshunoff. The company became recognized for providing guidance and analysis to the banking industry. In 1988 Thompson Media, a division of Thompson Reuters, acquired the company. Separately, the Sheshunoffs began publishing Alex Information products.
In 1995, SIS acquired A.S. Pratt & Sons. Established in 1933, Pratt's Letter is believed to be the second oldest continuously published newsletter in the country behind Kiplinger's Washington Letter, which began publication in 1923. A.S. Pratt is a provider of regulatory law and compliance work tools for the financial services industry.
Gabrielle Sheshunoff returned in 2004 to unite the AlexInformation, Sheshunoff, and A.S. Pratt brands before it was sold to Thompson in 2008.
In November 2014, LexisNexis Risk Solutions bought Health Market Science (HMS), a supplier of data about US healthcare professionals.
In 2000, Lexis began building a library of briefs and motions. In addition to this, Lexis also has libraries of statutes, case judgments and opinions for jurisdictions such as France, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, South Africa and the United Kingdom as well as databases of law review and legal journal articles for countries for which materials are available.
Previously, LexisNexis had a stripped-down free version (known as LexisOne) but this has been discontinued and replaced by Lexis Communities, which provides news and blogs across a variety of legal areas.
In France, the UK and Australia, LexisNexis publishes books, magazines and journals, both in hard copy and online. Titles include Taxation Magazine, Lawyers Weekly and La Semaine Juridique.
The organization that eventually became LexisNexis UK was founded in 1818 by Henry Butterworth (1786-1860). He was a pupil at King Henry VIII School, Coventry. After leaving Coventry he was apprenticed to and, for some time, worked for his uncle Joseph Butterworth, the great law bookseller of Fleet Street. In 1818, however, disagreement between them as to the terms of partnership made Henry set up on his own account at the corner of Middle Temple Gate (7 Fleet Street), where he became the well-known Queen's Law Bookseller.
Butterworths was acquired by International Publishing Corporation in 1965; IPC was acquired by the Reed Group in 1970.Heinemann Professional Publishing was merged with Butterworths Scientific in 1990 to form Butterworth-Heinemann. The Butterworths publishing business is now owned and operated in the UK by Reed Elsevier (UK) Ltd, a company in the Reed Elsevier Group. Publications continue to be produced by RELX (UK) Ltd using the "LexisNexis", "Butterworths" and "Tolley" trade marks. Such publications include Halsbury's Laws of England and the All England Law Reports, amongst others.
The Butterworths name is also used to publish works in many countries such as Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.
LexisNexis also produces a range of software, services and products which are designed to support the practice of the legal profession. For example, case management systems, customer relationship management systems ("CRMs") and proofreading tools for Microsoft Office.
Business Insight Solutions offers news and business content and market intelligence tools. It is a global provider of news and business information and market intelligence tools for professionals in risk management, corporate, political, media, and academic markets.
In November 2019, legal scholars and human rights activists called on LexisNexis to cease work with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement because their work directly contributes to the deportation of undocumented migrants.
Pursuant to instructions from Chinese authorities, in 2017 LexisNexis withdrew Nexis and LexisNexis Academic from China.
"Earlier this year LexisNexis Business Insight Solutions in China was asked to remove some content from its database," LexisNexis said in a statement. "In March 2017, the company withdrew two products (Nexis and LexisNexis Academic) from the Chinese market."