Performing a Law Review/Journal Preemption Check on WestlawNext

December 12, 2013

document reviewOne of the hardest decisions you’ll likely make as a member of a law review or journal is selecting a topic about which to write. There may be no worse feeling as a new member of your publication than the lead weight that plummets into your stomach when an editor says “Well done! This is an excellent topic for an article. Unfortunately, someone else wrote about it last spring in another publication.”

Knowing where to look on WestlawNext can help you choose both a timely, relevant topic and one for which there exists no prior scholarship. Of course, there is always the risk that you and another law review or journal associate are writing concurrently about the same topic. There may be little you can do about that, other than formulating what you believe to be a nuanced, creative argument on an emerging trend or area of the law.

Here are some tips about where to look on WestlawNext and Westlaw Classic to ensure you’re not wasting precious time having to select a topic other than your original choice:

  • News on WestlawNext: News articles can be a great place to start if you’re looking for recent cases. Try doing an “Advanced” search on WestlawNext by using a date restrictor to only yield results after a certain date:

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  • Secondary Sources on WestlawNext: You need to find out if there is another article already on this topic. One quick way is to go to Secondary Sources from the WestlawNext home page and then run a plain language search using the keywords for your idea. Your search will include results from all journals, law reviews, and other secondary sources on WestlawNext. Again, try using the “Advanced” template on WestlawNext to restrict by date.

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  • The Legal Resource Index (LRI) on WestlawNext: This content (available by clicking “Secondary Sources” from the home page and then clicking “Legal Resource Index”, under the “Tools & Resources” section on right side of the screen) provides abstracts for over 850 journals from both U.S. and International journals.

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  • Westlaw Classic’s Current Index to Legal Periodicals (CILP): The database identifier for this content is CILP. This database will contain the last eight weekly issues of the index. The index contains a list of article titles and the journal/law review in which they appear. After you enter CILP, ignore the word “READ” that appears in the search box and just click search. Click on the first result in the list and run a search using your keywords in the “Locate in Result” link on the upper-left side of the screen. Please keep in mind that you will be searching recent article titles with your keyword search.

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Once you’ve selected a topic and found other potentially helpful articles, do not forget to keep all of your research organized in one place using WestlawNext’s “Folders” feature. When you find a helpful article, just click the “add to folder” icon at the upper-right side of the screen. You can then create a folder for your research project and place subsequent content you find on WestlawNext into that folder to help keep your research secure and easily accessible at a later time. Please see the October 7, 2013 blog article by David Hollins entitled Using WestlawNext Folders to Separate the Wheat from the Chaff for more details about creating and organizing folders.