Tag Archives: Westlaw

Don’t Forget Secondary Sources

Librarians often tell students to start researching with secondary sources. Secondary sources are a great starting point for researching an unfamiliar area, providing a narrative explanation of complex concepts, giving citations to primary authority, and commentary on cutting edge legal issues. Something we don’t discuss that secondary sources can provide confirmation that there is no clear rule or guidance on an issue or common sense answer. In these instances, secondary sources are not our starting point, but rather our last ditch effort to find something, anything, to confirm that which is suspected as true. Recently a CLE (Continuing Legal Education) book confirmed for a researcher that there is no clear answer to a lien question. The book was found by using our catalog and searching for the larger concepts (association and Florida). Roaming the shelves is another great way to find secondary sources in print. We have a call number list on some of the shelves on the second floor that can help narrow this type of search.

Of course, secondary sources, including many CLEs, are available in Westlaw and Lexis, Hein Online, and sometimes in Google Books. It is important to remember that many secondary source titles are only available through one database. So, Tax Analyst titles are only available on Lexis, whereas WGL titles are only available in Westlaw. So it often a good idea as a student, who has educational access both Westlaw and Lexis, to search both vendors if information is still needed.

The oldest law library in the United States is a great resource for small firms and solo-practitioners!

The Jenkins Law Library located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is over 200 years old, but don’t let its age cause you to think that it is just a relic of the past. The Jenkins Law Library is still going strong and makes available a wealth of legal research tools and resources. Students, solo-practitioners, and law firms can become members of the law library and take advantage of the many databases and resources available. Even if you are not a member of the Jenkins Law Library, the law library offers services that may be useful to attorneys, such as legal research, copying, Shepardizing or Keyciting cases, and document delivery. The Jenkins Law Library is a great low cost alternative to other well-known legal information providers.

Do you need to keep track of a research subject?

If you are writing an ALWR this semester, there may be new developments on your ALWR topic before the due date. Your professor will expect that you research your topic diligently throughout the semester, and deal with any new developments appropriately in your paper.

If your ALWR paper concerns doping in sports, you probably heard about Lance Armstrong’s confession as it happened. But what if your paper concerns proposed SEC regulations, or the activity of the Senate Banking Committee? You can’t count on this material being big news, and you do not have the time or inclination to repeat the same searches in the same search engines every day. You might be thinking, “If only I could arrange for news on my topic to be delivered to me automatically!”

Congratulations. You can set up alerts to do exactly that. Go to the Google Altert page here: http://www.google.com/alerts, and fill out the simple form. Lexis and Westlaw also provide this service. See instructions on how to set up alerts in Westlaw here, and in Lexis here.

Have you read the fine print on your Westlaw contract?

If you haven’t, you are not using the skills you are using in law school to the fullest extent.  Misuse of your Westlaw (or Lexis) account can result in serious consequences.  Can’t read the full article?  If you don’t want to sign up (or if there is a fee for an article) remember that Westlaw and Lexis often have journal articles regarding legal issues.  For this article, log on to Lexis, use “Find a Source,” type in National Law Journal.  Once you choose the National Law Journal from the list of results, copy and paste the title in and you can access the whole article.  You should always check Lexis and Westlaw for journal articles – at least for now, while you have authorized access.

Summer Westlaw/Lexis access – NOT automatic

Students and Alumni do not have continued access to Westlaw/WestlawNext and Lexis.com over the summer without taking affirmative steps to extend access. The criteria for summer access are set forth below categorized by continuing student or graduate.

Continuing Students:
Westlaw
Full access to Westlaw will end on May 31st for the summer.  If you are enrolled and earning class credit this summer, in Law Review, working on Moot Court, or a summer faculty research assistant you can extend your Westlaw password for the summer by logging into Westlaw and click on the banner “Westlaw Password Extension?” Please note that Westlaw is only available to those working for a non-profit organization if you are receiving course credit and are not receiving pay.

Lexis
If you are enrolled and earning class credit this summer, in Law Review, working on Moot Court, earning Pro Bono hours for the Certificate, or a summer faculty research assistant, you can extend your full Lexis.com password for the summer by logging into Lexis and clicking on the “continue summer access” box. If you have not extended your access by May 31st, your access will be “limited.” However, you can still extend your access anytime during the summer and your access will be restored to regular access within a few hours. Your Lexis Advanced access will remain active with no action on your part.

Emails from Westlaw/Lexis
If you don’t want to receive emails from Westlaw and Lexis (and you are), please “Update” your password profile in Westlaw or “Manage your Account” in Lexis.

Alumni (Graduates):
Congratulations to our graduating students. Here is some Alumni and Summer Access Information.

Alumni Coastal Library Access
Alumni have FULL access (except for databases that require personal passwords) to the LTC for two semesters (ex. Summer and Fall semesters) after graduation. At the end of the second semester, we ask you to register as an Alumnus. See the full policy for more information about our continued services to alumni click here.

Lexis
You can extend full access to Lexis.com through the summer by logging into Lexis and clicking on the “continue summer access” box. If you have not extended your access by May 31st, your access will be “limited.” However, you can still extend your access anytime during the summer and your access will be restored to regular access within a few hours. All graduates’ IDs will be deactivated on August 1st. Your last day to earn LexisNexis points is May 31st and you must spend these points by July 31, 2012. Your Lexis Advanced access will remain active through the end of July with no action on your part.

Westlaw
Starting June 1, 2012, Westlaw student passwords are “active” for one year post graduation, but only for “Job-Related” databases. “Job-Related” is essentially the West Legal Directory, AFJ, Profiler-ALL and a handful of other directories. If a graduate tries to access anything else, they will get “not available under your subscription” message.

If you would like to have access to Westlaw to study for the bar in June and July, you must register for a Graduate Password. To request a Graduate Password, click on the ad for “continue summer access box” that displays when you logon at Westlaw. Students who register for a Graduate Password will have 10 hours of Westlaw per month (10 hours in June and 10 hours in July) to help them prepare for the bar.  Westlaw points for May graduates will expire on June 30th.

The Lighter side of Research!

Hope you enjoyed your spring break and are ready to get back into the swing of things!

Still working on your ALWRs, MSJs, or other legal research projects? Next week, we are offering Workshops in low cost legal research because sometimes Westlaw and LexisNexis do not provide all the answers.

Here is a fun look at legal research: Research tips; Why you should take breaks!; Westlaw vs.LexisNexis