University of Akron’s Westlaw / Lexis Nexis Guide

August 18, 2010

We’ve been reading a bit about the University of Akron School of Law Guides for WesltawNext and LexisNexis Online Research (pdf). Although Westlaw User Guides are free, I love the idea of librarians putting these together for all the reasons articulated in the guide. Of course, I’d not be doing my job, though, if I didn’t point out the following correction:

Section IIA(2): In fact, Westlaw searches irregular plurals unless you use the pound symbol (#). So, your search for “goose,” should deliver “geese.”

and, the following clarification:

Section II Searching Concepts: This section describes standard boolean searching on Westlaw. There will always be room for traditional boolean searching. Very often, traditional boolean logic is essential to complete a research task (e.g. how many times was the phrase “conceptual separability” used in the Ninth Circuit?). This, you can do on WestlawNext. And, I think it’s important for students to understand boolean logic. So, without interfering with the pedogogical concerns of our librarians, let me say that I usually begin my WestlawNext research with a plain language query that takes advantage of the new WestSearch algorithm. The benefit here is primarily efficiency. If I needed to know about the doctrine of conceptual separability, for example, I simply run the phrase in the search box:

and, this tip:

Section IIA(3): If you are using boolean, the pound symbol is also very useful for searching terms typically too common to be searched. Using the pound symbol forces Westlaw to run a search to otherwise would prefer not to run. For example, if I’m often looking for variations of the phrase “before trial”, try, #before +2 trial.

Submitted by
West Reference Attorney
Mike C.