Westlaw’s 1L Outline Shells

Looking for resources to prepare for your 1L exams?  You may want to consider checking out Westlaw’s 1L Outline Shells series.  This series provides a quick overview of black letter law, and may be a helpful resource to consult in conjunction with your class notes.  Covering the topics of civil procedure, constitutional law, contracts, criminal law, property, and torts, this series is available for free at: https://lawschool.westlaw.com/marketing/display/SG/28.  Good luck studying!


Westlaw Has a New KeyCite Flag

westlaw blue and white flagWestlaw now has a new KeyCite indicator, a blue and white flag that will alert users that a case has been appealed to either the U.S. Court of Appeals or the U.S. Supreme Court.  While this flag will be present on cases that have been appealed from state supreme courts, it will not appear if a case has been appealed from an agency.  As the flag merely serves as a warning that change could be on the way, it is considered to be a neutral flag.  For more information on this and other search tips, check out Westlaw’s Tip of the Week blog and Westlaw’s guide to Viewing KeyCite Information for a Case.



Using Westlaw for Court Documents

A previous post discussed the Bloomberg Law docket search feature and access to federal court filings from the PACER system. While provided in different way, Westlaw Next also provides access to many court dockets, briefs and other court filings.

If you were researching, for example, Young v. United Parcel Service, Inc., the pregnancy discrimination case decided recently by the Supreme Court, you could begin by retrieving the case on Westlaw Next. In the KeyCite information above the case report, the History tab provides information about lower court proceedings, in both list and graphical format. The Filings tab provides access to dockets, briefs and other court filings–not only for the case at the Supreme Court, but at lower courts as well. The Adobe icon indicates a document that is available in PDF; other documents are in HTML. (Click images below to expand.)

WLN-young     WLN-40 filings


Starting with a published case is the easiest way to locate court documents related to that case, but you can also find these documents by searching appropriate databases on Westlaw. From the main browse menu, Westlaw Next provides databases for briefs, dockets and argument transcripts, allowing the researcher to select smaller databases for those documents arranged by jurisdiction.

WLN-browse menu     WLN-search results

For example, an advanced search of briefs filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit retrieves three briefs from the Young case before that court.

While these databases on Westlaw Next do not provide the full list of all filings in lower court proceedings–and is less comprehensive than Bloomberg Law for current federal cases–it is a major source of dockets and other court documents for federal and some state courts.

For more information on locating court documents, consult our research guide or speak with a reference librarian.


Certification Class on Finding Court Documents

Many tools are available to you to locate dockets, briefs and other documents generated while a case is pending before a court–at any level. This session will focus on how to use some of these tools, including court web sites, Westlaw Next and Bloomberg Law, among others.

Sessions of this class are offered in Room 335 on:

Tuesday, Feb. 24, 9 a.m.  (LLM preferred) and 1 p.m.
Friday, Feb. 27, 12 p.m.

To register:  http://lawlibraryguides.bu.edu/certification/register

Class page: http://lawlibraryguides.bu.edu/cert2015_Court-documents


Alerts for Current Awareness

A previous post in this space noted email delivery of weekly or daily updates from Bloomberg BNA.

Another great tool that you can use to keep abreast of new developments is alerts, which you can create on the three big legal database providers: Lexis, Westlaw and Bloomberg Law. Alerts allow you to have a search run regularly (daily, weekly or monthly) and have new results delivered to you according to your specifications. Screen shots are provided below; click an image to increase its size.

After running a search on Lexis Advance, you can click the alarm clock button and fill out the resulting form to save the search to be run at a frequency you choose, with results to be delivered as you designate. As noted below, the saved alert would generate a monthly email message with any new Massachusetts cases that reference Mass. Gen. Laws. Ch. 93A.


Lexis_search     Lexis_alert


Creating an Alert on Westlaw Next is very similar. Simply click on the alarm clock button


westlaw_search     westlaw_alert


One of Bloomberg Law‘s great strengths is its Docket search feature. A user may create an Alert to receive periodic updates about filings in a case, including those accessible through the federal courts’ PACER system. For example, the image below shows a screen where an alert can be created by clicking the Blue button and filling in the form to select frequency of reports, etc. This Alert will provide regular updates about new filings in DeBoer v. Snyder, one of the same-sex marriage cases pending before the Supreme Court.


BLaw_docket search2


Alerts such as these are a convenient way to be notified automatically when new results that meet your criteria are discovered with the periodic searches that you request. If you’re not taking advantage of these, you could be missing out on a tool that could save time and effort.


Admiralty & Maritime Law

Looking to research admiralty and maritime law?  The Fineman and Pappas Law Libraries have some resources to help you get started.

Secondary Sources

Secondary sources are a good place to look if you want a broad overview of the law or references to laws and cases.  Here are a few books that you may want to check out:

 Searching on WestlawNext and Lexis Advance

WestlawNext and Lexis Advance include links to admiralty and maritime cases, statutes, court rules, regulations, administrative decisions, briefs, books and forms.  To access this collection on WestlawNext, you can search by headnote or browse the practice area of Admiralty & Maritime Law.  In order browse Lexis Advance’s collection, look under the topic of Admiralty & Maritime Law.

American Maritime Cases (AMC)

American Maritime Cases is a reporter devoted to maritime cases, which includes its own headnotes and digesting system.  This source is available online from Lexis Advance and WestlawNext, or as a separate database through the Libraries’ catalog.  It is also available in print in the Annex at call number KF1100 .A2 A4.

American Maritime Cases


Terms and Connectors

Struggling with a search on Lexis Advance or WestlawNext?  Consider using connectors to help define your query.  This will allow you to narrow your search, find variations of words, or search for a specific phrase.


Lexis Advance

  • Lexis Advance has summarized their search connectors and commands on its website
  • It has also created a tutorial video that includes general search tips



  • WestlawNext has created a guide to using terms and connectors
  • It also offers training on how to use terms and connectors and key cites to enhance your search


Curious about the differences between terms and connectors on Lexis Advance and WestlawNext?  Check out this helpful chart from Lexis.



Bloomberg, Lexis, and Westlaw Training begins the week of October 13th. Reserve your space TODAY.

Fall training by our vendor representatives begins the week of October 13th. These trainings are strongly recommended for ALL 1L and AmLaw LLM students to pick up where your Library Research classes left off.

Our vendor reps will introduce some of the “bells and whistles” unique to their individual platforms and will assist you in developing that most essential of your lawyering skills: research proficiency.

The reps publicize their training dates on their respective sties and all upcoming training can be found and registered for at the following links:


Bloomberg Law:


Lexis Advance:





(Remember, many employers expect that you will have completed the vendors’ research certification trainings BEFORE day one on the job.)

UPDATE: Bloomberg Law Training will be held on these two dates:

Oct 16 1-145 pm – Room 414

Oct 28 1-145 pm   – Room 414

You may email our Bloomberg Rep., Eric Malinowski, at emalinowski@bna.com to register.