Update: The following review was done using an iPod Touch 2G. LexisNexis Canada has confirmed that it was designed for Apple 3G and 4G products, which explains some of the results outlined below.
Legal publishers continue to lag in getting mobile apps to their users. Fastcase.com was first out the door over a year ago with an iPhone app which has garnered a lot of praise from users. WestlawNext has an iPad app but otherwise the Thomson Reuters approach seems to be mobile Web sites, rather than apps, although their presentation of mobile offerings doesn’t appear to actually show all of their options. Apparently, you can still rock it old school with Westlaw’s Palm OS clipping tool! Blackberry and Android users are still relying on mobile Web sites.
This is the environment into which LexisNexis Canada releases its brand new iPhone app for its legal research service Quicklaw. It follows the lead of the US LexisNexis app, which offers case name and citation look up. I was able to log in with my personalized LexisNexis profile as well as with a typical LexisNexis username and password.
As an app goes, it is pretty straight forward. You can either select to search by a case name or search by a citation. When you type in your search, it retrieves a document. Wait, did I say A? That was the odd thing. I tried a couple of searches based on a single party name (try Strother, for example) and retrieved one document. The case was formatted cleanly but I know that there are more results. In fact, when I received an error message that the document I requested was too large and I should retry my search on Quicklaw, I did retry the search at the full Web site. I retrieved 30+ hits using the same search-by-name form.
Once you have retrieved a document, you can share it (e-mail, etc.) or you can run it through LexisNexis’ citator, Quickcite. The screen automatically rotates to landscape mode and the results are displayed in a clean version of the full Quickcite screen.
And that’s it. It is a very basic app and, based on the single document retrieval, not a very useful one. The citation search may be more useful if you are pulling up a case and you know the cite, but I don’t see any value in the case name search.
It also seems to have time out issues. I was testing the app on an iPod Touch with a WiFi connection and expected it to come along pretty quickly. But I had a half dozen error messages, most of which seemed to be time out errors rather than the reasons included in the error (document too big, etc.). If I reran the search, I often was able to get the final result.