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I have been writing about WALR (Wireless Access to Legal Research) for more than a year. Westlaw offered, and has apparently abandoned, limited access through the Motorola PageWriter 2000. It then promoted a Palm Pilot-based WCA (Web Clipping Application) that could access West Legal Directory (WLD), and gave limited access to the rest of the Westlaw database. (A WCA is a small program for Palm and Palm-compatible handhelds with wireless Internet access that lets the handheld use a specific Web site.) Lexis tried limited access through RIM (Research in Motion) handheld Internet Browser and GoAmerica wireless service. I’m told that Lexis access is no longer available through these early efforts, but that new wireless availability is under development. This week I look at West’s latest WALR capability, available for Palm-compatibles, RIMs, and HP, Casio or Compaq versions of the Pocket PC (PPC). Wireless Westlaw works, but WestGroup could make it more valuable. NEW WIRELESS WESTLAW If you have a wireless Palm or Palm-compatible, download the WCA from wl-w.com. The download comes in two parts — one WCA for Westlaw access and another for WLD access. (The WLD WCA is usable without a Westlaw contract.) Install either or both of the WCAs using the usual hotsync installation procedure. If you’re using a RIM or wireless-enabled PPC, just point the handheld’s Browser to wl-w.com and you are ready to begin. (I tested Wireless Westlaw with a Palm and a RIM, but not with a wireless PPC.) The procedure is similar whether using Browser or WCA. The initial screen gives the user the option to “Find a Document,” “KeyCite a Citation,” “Research Westlaw” or “Search West Legal Directory”. Experienced Westlaw users will know that “Find a Document” really means “Find a Document by Entering a Citation”. Select that option, and you will be given three lines to complete: citation, Westlaw password, and client ID. Enter the appropriate information, activate the search, and Westlaw sends the first five kilobytes of the document, which is likely merely preliminary headings and some headnotes. The user can KeyCite a headnote, directly from the handheld screen, without going into the KeyCite menu. The KeyCite menu works the same way as the “Find a Document” menu; enter the citation, password and Client ID and hit the Go button. However you get to KeyCite, by the way, the KeyCite display has the Westlaw warning flags, although they aren’t quite the same in monochrome as they are in living color. The “Research Westlaw” option leads to a screen that lets the user input the Westlaw designation of a specific database or choose from a list of “popular databases.” Enter the appropriate database name, and either a “Terms and Connectors” (standard Boolean) or “Natural Language” query, password and Client ID, activate the search, and Westlaw sends the first five kilobytes of the requested document. Whichever the research path, the user can read the selected document in five kilobyte chunks, or e-mail a link to that document. The e-mail recipient, accessing e-mail in wired mode, clicks on the link, enters password and client information, and then proceeds directly to the selected document. WLD doesn’t require the password or Client ID, and lets the user find a lawyer, law firm, courthouse or “legal vendor” — the last presumably a vendor of products related to the practice of law and not merely any vendor who conducts business within the law. The documents are not very long, and you can’t e-mail links. POINTS OF QUIBBLE The new version of Wireless Westlaw does work, and gives access to the Westlaw database. I can, however, suggest a few improvements: � Make the system password friendly. The Westlaw password must be entered each time you use the system, and often disappears so you might have to enter it again when you request a second document in a session. Entering 11 numbers and letters with a handheld’s scribble reader or software keyboard is never easy. I object to being required to enter this information every time I search. Why not let the user store the password somewhere? If you’re using a RIM (or, we suspect, a PPC), the situation is worse, as the Web page data-entry form picked up by the Web Browser covers the password digits with asterisks, making it impossible to determine that you misentered the password until Westlaw rejects the request due to a bad password. Westlaw has recently permitted a user to set an alias logon/password combination to be used in place of the arbitrary long combination of letters and numbers. I find the logon/password combination much easier to use on a desktop computer and recommend that any Westlaw user that has trouble remembering the assigned Westlaw ID should take advantage of this easy-to-configure option. I thought that it might be easier to set up a short logon/password combination for use with Wireless Westlaw; alas, there’s no place to enter logon and password in the Wireless Westlaw scheme. � Let the user designate a fax destination for the selected document, rather than merely an e-mailed link. Even a lawyer on the road is seldom far from a fax machine, and this would make it easy to actually read the documents in question. � Let Westlaw store the last few databases that the user has accessed and send it to the handheld after logon, making it easy to select a particular state’s cases, for example, than merely selecting the all states or all federal megadatabases from the dropdown list. � I would still like to see Westlaw with interactive e-mail based research capability. Such a system should be easier to do than what West has done, and would be usable anywhere you can send and receive e-mail. Even with all of the above, I applaud Wireless Westlaw folks for the job they have done. I hope that other CALR folks get busy and implement similar service. DETAILS Wireless Westlaw WestGroup 610 Opperman Drive Eagan, MN 55123-1396 Phone: (800) 937-8529 www.westlaw.com/wireless.

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