If you know the citation to a case, statute, law review, or treatise, or the name of a party in a case, you can use the Find feature. Click on Find which is located on the navigation bar at the top of the screen.
There are several databases available for you to conduct your legal research. However, there are some databases that do not fall within our subscription plan, which if selected will show the message: Your request to access _____ cannot be processed because use of this database is not authorized under your subscription agreement.
To select a database:
Use search terms that relate to the important issues and facts involved in your research. Do not use a common word such as “law.” Think of unique terms or phrases that describe your topic.
There are two types of searches that can be done:
You can join search terms by using connectors and expanders, restrict your search so that search terms only appear in specified fields, and limit by date.
Using Connectors Between Words & Phrases: Connectors specify the relationship between two terms. The chart below provides the connector, symbol used, and what it retrieves.
All the terms must appear in the same document or field.
At least one of the connected terms must be in the document.
Search terms appear in the same order as in the quotation marks.
Search terms appear in the same sentence.
Search terms appear in the same paragraph.
First term precedes the second term in the same sentence.
First term precedes the second term in the same paragraph.
Search terms must appear within n words of each other. (n is a number).
First search term must precede the second term with n words of each other.
Documents do not contain the term or terms following the % symbol (Caution: this may eliminate relevant documents).
Root Expander (!) retrieves words with variant endings. When an exclamation point (!) is placed at the end of a root term, you retrieve all possible endings. For example, obey! yields obeyed, obeying, etc.
Universal Character (*) represents one character. It can be placed within or at the end of a term. When you place an asterisk within a term, it requires that a character appear in that position. For example, wom*n retrieves woman or women . When an asterisk is placed at the end of a term, it specifies the maximum length of that term. For example, educat*** retrieves educate, educated, and educating, but not educational.
Turning Off Plurals: Westlaw automatically retrieves plurals when you enter the singular form of a term. You can turn off plurals of a particular term by placing the # symbol in front of the term. To retrieve damage but not damages, type #damage.
Field Restrictions: You can limit your search by restricting your terms to specified fields. Field restrictions vary according to the type of source being used. Below are examples of some field restrictions that can be used.
Date Restrictions: There are pre-set date choices which range from Today through Unrestricted (all available dates). The default is Unrestricted. Alternatively, you can customize the dates using the After, Before, Between, Specific, and Last options.
Think about the purpose of your research before using a date restriction. Here are some factors to consider:
Natural Language searching allows a researcher to use plain language when looking for materials on a legal topic. The search screen default is Terms and Connectors. To search using natural language, click on the Natural Language tab. In the text box, type in your search request as if you were writing a sentence (e.g., Do noncustodial grandparents have visitation rights?)
You can further customize your Natural Language search by using the thesaurus, control concepts, date restrictions and other applicable restrictions.
KeyCite is a citation research service. When you enter the citation to a case, statute, administrative decision, or regulation, KeyCite, using colored flags and letters, will indicate whether that document is still good law and also provide a list of citing references.
Red Flag—indicates that a case or administrative decision is no longer good law for at least one of its points. For statutes and regulations, it indicates that it has been amended, repealed etc.
Yellow Flag—warns that the case, statute, regulation or administrative decision has received some negative treatment.
Blue H—indicates that a case or administrative decision has received some history.
Green C—means that a case or administrative decision has citing references but no direct or indirect negative history.
Star Ratings—indicates how much the citing case discusses the cited case.
Quotation Marks—indicates that a citing case directly quotes the cited case or administrative decision.
Printing in the Law Library requires the creation of a print account. Please see the Printing and Copying Page for instructions on setting up a print account and printer locations.
You have two printing options:
After you select Quick Print or Print, a print box will appear on the screen. Click on OK to print the whole document: if you only want some of the document, then change the page range and click OK .
Enter the User ID from the back of your Print Anywhere card when prompted to do so.
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