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Case Law - What It Is & Where to Find It: Westlaw, Lexis & Bloomberg

Introduction

Introduction

Using databases online can often be done with more ease than using the physical reporters. However, there are some things to be aware of when starting your research. Always check what the jurisdiction of the case you are researching. You want to make sure you are using controlling authority when you cite to a case. Make sure you are citing to cases in the right state or that you are not citing a lower courts ruling over a higher court. Additionally, always double check to make sure the case is good law. The legal landscape is constantly shifting and a case that was good last week may no longer be good. Westlaw, Lexis, and Bloomberg all have different methods for checking the relevancy of a case.

Westlaw

Cases by Citation

  • Enter the case citation in the main search bar of the home page. Sometimes this will bring up the case as a suggestion in the pop up below the search bar. On the pop up, you can click on the left hand side to choose what type of source you would like the database to suggest.  
  • No spaces, punctuation or capital letters are necessary (i.e. 248ny339)
  • You can also search just by the parties' names by clicking "cases" and then "advanced search" next to the search bar
  • Click the orange magnifying glass next to the search bar when you are ready to search or just hit the "enter" key
  • Remember to KeyCite your case to confirm that it is still good law

Cases by Keyword

  • Either begin typing in the search bar on the main page or click "cases" below the search bar.
  • From the main page you can click the drop down menu to the right of the search bar to select a jurisdiction.
  • From the "Cases" page you can select a jurisdiction from the list.
  • No matter where you choose to search, you can start typing your keywords into the box then hit the search button or "enter" key
  • This will give you a list of cases to choose from and you can further refine your search by clicking the filter button to the left hand side of the results page

Lexis Advance

Cases by Citation

  • Enter the case citation in the main search bar of the home page. Sometimes this will bring up the case as a suggestion in the pop up below the search bar. On the pop up, you can look to the left side to see what type of source the suggestions are.  
  • No spaces, punctuation or capital letters are necessary (i.e. 248ny339)
  • You can also search just by the parties' names by clicking "cases" and then "advanced search" next to the search bar
  • Click the red magnifying glass next to the search bar when you are ready to search or just hit the "enter" key
  • Remember to Shepardize your case to confirm that it is still good law

Cases by Keyword

  • Either begin typing in the search bar on the main page or click "cases" below the search bar.
  • From the main page you can click the drop down menus to the right of the search bar to select a jurisdiction or category (such as cases) before searching.
  • From the "Cases" page you can select a jurisdiction or practice area from the list.
  • No matter where you choose to search, you can start typing your keywords into the box then hit the search button or "enter" key
  • This will give you a list of cases to choose from and you can further refine your search selecting one of the filters to the left side of the results page

Bloomberg Law

Cases by Citation

  • Go to: www.bloomberglaw.com
  • Sign in to your account by entering your Username & Password
  • Enter the case citation in the search bar at the top of the home page
  • Include spaces; but no punctuation or capital letters are necessary (e.g. 248 ny 339)
  • Hit enter, click "Go", or click the drop down link
  • Be sure to BCite your case to confirm that it is still good law

Cases by Keyword

  • Either begin typing in the search bar on the main page or click "court opinions" in the popular links section.
  • From the main page you can click the drop down menus to the right of the search bar to select a jurisdiction or category (such as U.S. Courts then Court Opinions) before searching.
  • After you click "court opinons" a pop up box will open which will let you choose from a variety of options such as keywords, citations, courts, or dates.
  • No matter where you choose to search, you can start typing your keywords into the box then hit the search button or "enter" key
  • This will give you a list of cases to choose from and you can further refine your search selecting one of the filters to the left side of the results page