Lexis and Westlaw Mac Browser Lineup

March 22, 2008  (Jeffrey Kabbe)

Mac Law Students posted a nice review today of the current state of the Mac browser field. The focus of the review is how nicely each of the eight browsers reviewed plays with LexisNexis and Westlaw. Safari 3.1 seems to be the best of the bunch (which isn’t surprising given the effort put in to making Safari standards-compliant). Really, though, none of the browsers did poorly. It’s obvious that both Lexis and Westlaw are designing their sites now with more than just the Windows / Internet Explorer world in mind.

I like (and dislike) a variety of things about Lexis and Westlaw. During law school I primarily used Lexis because Westlaw has historically not played well with tabs. Westlaw’s frame interface throws a wrench into my use of tabs. Invariably, I would click on a Westlaw link in the current tab and nothing would happen – or so it would seem. What actually happened was that a page somewhere on one of my other tabs had been replaced because Westlaw decided that particular tab had the window the page should be loaded in.

One reason I do like running Westlaw on a Mac browser is that Westlaw prints and downloads work better. I am not sure if it’s a bug or a feature, but if I switch to another application while doing a Westlaw print in Internet Explorer (on Windows XP), the Westlaw popup window closes and the print stops. The same thing happens if I switch applications during a download. It’s irritating that Westlaw forces me to sit there and watch, unable to do any other work on the computer, while it’s building the pages. Westlaw doesn’t do this on any of the Mac browsers I tried. For some reason I haven’t tried Westlaw on Firefox for Windows. Does anyone know if Firefox for Windows has this “feature”?

One omission from the review is Firefox 3.0. The Firefox team recently released Firefox 3.0 Beta 4, and I haven’t encountered any problems with it (unlike with Beta 2). Firefox 3.0 is getting close enough to an “everyday browser” that it should probably have been included.


  1. Thanks for the link, Jeff. I thought about bringing the Firefox 3 beta into the review, but decided against it because I didn’t want to step into any “You included the FF beta, but not the X beta” arguments. But I think you’re right; I should have at least checked the FF 3 beta 4 against LexisNexis and Westlaw. Unfortunately I have a couple of papers to write, so I may not be able to do that for a while.


  2. Hey Erik. Re-reading my post with the clarity of a good night’s sleep, I can see that it came across a little critical there at the end, which wasn’t my intention. Keep up the good work.

    ps. I’m glad you liked my Mozy review – and thanks for the link. I have continued to use Mozy at home and will probably install it soon on my wife’s business computer.

  3. Cite with references doesn’t work with FF very well, how does it work with other browsers?

    I’ve always hated Westlaw’s small window pop-up. Because my firm is Westlaw only I use greasemonkey and a widely available script to force the popup to a new tab. Now I have an inconsistent interface, I don’t always remember which type of link I middle click or left click, but I’m glad be rid of the popup.

  4. So does the streamlined printing Firefox .xpi file work under Mac OS X?

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