Searching in the Case Law Periphery

June 24, 2015

Reference Attorneys 30Despite the huge universe of cases available on Westlaw, occasionally one just cannot be found with discussion specific to an issue.

If that problem arises, a favorite tip I like to share is to pay attention to the appellate briefs, trial court orders, and filings. It can be easy to forget to search the content in the periphery of the case law, but it often contains facts and arguments we may not see referenced in the actual opinions. Plus, they are usually filled with citations to cases or other authority. And if we see a trend in the briefs that there isn’t much authority to cite to, that can be a reassuring confirmation that we are not the first to find there is just not much law on our issue.

A relevant brief is a valuable resource and we have more briefs online (millions!) to search than anywhere else. So searching that extra bit often gets us beyond where our initial research takes us and frequently saves time putting together what we ultimately need.

(Editor’s Note: Each day in June we will be highlighting a post from our reference attorney team.  See more entries in our 30 Days of Reference Attorneys series here: #30DaysofRefAttys)