Law Students Can Learn More About WestlawNext By Playing FantasySCOTUS

February 14, 2013

law school graduatesSunday February 3, 2013, marked the end of the NFL football season. However, for millions of fans — approximately 24.3 million of them according to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association — the “real” football season probably ended at some point in December when a fantasy football league champion was crowned, leaving these football fans a long wait for fall. Other than studying, what is a fantasy-football playing law student (or non-fantasy-football playing law student) to do until fall?

Here’s an idea: play FantasySCOTUS! That’s right; use your knowledge of the law and WestlawNext to play in a fantasy Supreme Court league. You might even win Westlaw Rewards Points or a Visa gift card.

Two law student fantasy Supreme Court competitions are being sponsored this winter: a school level individual competition and a national team competition. All you have to do is sign up — it’s never too late to sign up! — and make your predictions. See the contest rules for more information.

At this point you may be asking yourself a very important question: “Do I just blindly guess how the Supreme Court will rule?” You can. But, if you do a little bit of research, you will give yourself a better chance of making accurate predictions.

Here are a few WestlawNext research tips to help you best make your predictions:

  1. Use the links provided — Links to briefs, petitions, and other documents on WestlawNext may be listed on the predictions page. These links will provide a good starting point for researching the cases and issues before the court.
  1. Case History — It’s helpful to understand a case’s journey to the Supreme Court. Try running a search for the case title through a broad database such as All State & Federal to find lower court opinions. For instance, on February 9 the court heard arguments for the case of Missouri v. McNeely. Try a search such as: ti(missouri & mcneely)

Or, once you’re in a case-related document such as a petition or lower court opinion use the “History” tab or Graphical KeyCite.

  1. How have the justices ruled on the issues presented in the past? — How a justice has ruled on an issue in the past may provide an indication as to how the justice may rule in the future. Try a narrow search by using the judge field restrictor. For instance: ju(thomas) & [issue]    

For predictions on four upcoming decisions and more tips, please read Prof. Josh Blackman’s blog – he’s the creator of FantasySCOTUS!