Is the old saying “you get what you pay for” applicable to low cost research providers? What your colleagues are saying about this topic.

Posted on 06-10-2015 by
Tags: How-Tos & Guidance , legal research , research

We all have bought a product with high expectations and when we used it we were left disappointed; however, when it comes to low-cost research providers, does this old saying apply there as well?

And, if you are occasionally solicited for these services and wonder whether the cost savings is worth it you may be on the fence about taking the possible plunge. To help ease some of your questions, we asked the question to LexTalk community members, and we received an outpouring of feedback. Almost all responses sided with on the side of “yes” that you do “get what you pay for” when it comes to lower-cost research providers, but a few think exploring this option is worth the value.

Take a look at their comments below.

 What are your needs?

Depends what you are looking for; some basic controlling standards can be found readily at low cost. More sophisticated research likely requires the high-pay sources.

Depends on the subject matter and what tools they are using for the search. In IP law it is also very important that the searcher understand the concept to be searched. Sometimes you get what you pay for.

It all depends on what your needs are. If you just search for statutes and cases in a single jurisdiction, then they may be sufficient. But if you often research nationwide or in complex areas, then the low cost options sometimes lack the resources to give comprehensive (and correct) analysis.

The value of a brand name

I do not think any of these low-cost options would be worth it ... and I don't think it would ever be worth it to leave them for less reliable yet cheaper alternatives.”


If you are not familiar with the law or don't have a specific resource in mind when you begin, then I believe it is not wise to seek to use a low-cost provider for that all-encompassing first time search, when the provider does not have the resources and breadth of a Lexis or Westlaw.

Often, the lower cost options do not provide the breadth of research -- both subject matter and all over the country.

Take a trial run?

“I would think any research provider worth the price would allow you to test them out for free on an issue first. Try to negotiate that opportunity to see if you like them.”


“I would think depending on your geographical location, the lower cost options may be sufficient. In a small state like Mississippi, with just one court of appeal in addition to our state supreme court, we often look to other states for guidance on issues, but in a larger state -- such as Texas, Florida, NY, and CA -- there may be sufficient state law that 80% of the time, your research can be limited to that geography. If there is a less expensive option that works for you, I would be tempted to take it for a spin.”

“It takes a lot to get comfortable with outside counsel and allowing them more control, and would take a tremendous amount of testing to get to that point with a non-lawyer.”

While the majority of the attorneys surveyed do believe that lower cost research options are not reliable, a couple attorneys did believe exploring this option is worth the value.


“Not necessarily. There are some very good free legal research resources available on the internet.”

“There are some areas outside of case/statutory research that sometimes are only available from a low cost/free provider.”

“I think that low-cost providers are fine if you are already familiar with the field of law and are just looking for a specific case or resource.”


Now we pose the question to you – Is the old saying "you get what you pay for" applicable to low cost research providers?

Feel free to share your thoughts by including your comment in the ‘Join the Conversation’ text box at the bottom of this string. Register to LexTalk and join the conversation. 



Posted on : 29 Jun 2015 7:43 AM

It all totally depends on the branding of the company! The research should be qualitative and not quantitative. Although most of the times, the quality of work can be trusted for low-cost services. Therefore, before plunging in completely, it is good if take a trial or test run!

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