lawlibrary Legal Technology

Online Databases in the Limelight – WestlawNext*

Here’s a snapshot of one of the computers in our computer room with WestlawNext access.

Online databases can be invaluable, time-saving  tools to any legal researcher as they provide organized access to a wide array of legal resources as well as sophisticated search tools.  Many online databases, including fee-based databases, are available at the Law Library, free of charge, to library patrons.  This month, the blog will feature six of the online databases available at the Law Library.

Thomson Reuters is one of the biggest players in the world of legal publishing and online legal research and is the publisher of WestlawNext, a platform for searchable databases with access to a wide array of primary resources, such as federal and state statutes, federal and state regulations and case law, as well as secondary resources, such as encyclopedias, treatises, journal articles and form books.**

There is a myriad of tools, resources and services available through both WestlawNext.  One of the most popular services provided through WestlawNext is KeyCite, which is an online case citator service. KeyCite identifies all published cases and other sources that cite (e.g., refer to) the case being reviewed by the legal researcher and provide additional information, such as the reason why the later case cited the case at hand.  This is important information to have as later cases can affect the value of the case at hand or later cases may better address the matter being researched.  In addition, document delivery services (e.g., email, print, PDF downloads, RTF downloads) are available through the Law Library’s WestlawNext subscription. This means that users can access certain resources after the online session has concluded.

Can I access WestlawNext at the Library? Yes! The Law Library offers FREE, in-person access to WestlawNext. As access to WestlawNext can be cost-prohibitive to attorneys and self-represented litigants, the Law Library provides free access to meet its users’ legal research needs.

How to use WestlawNext in the Library? There are two computers designated for public WestlawNext access in the law library. Each computer has a small sign indicating the availability of WestlawNext. You do not need log-in information — simply double-click on the WestlawNext icon on the computer’s desktop.

What to do if you need help with WestlawNext? Please ask for help at the Law Library’s service desk. We can provide technical assistance (e.g.,  how to get started, how to use and search the database) as well as research assistance (e.g.,  how best to formulate your search, which resources to target for more refined searches).

Can I access the Law Library’s WestlawNext subscription from home? No. The Law Library’s current subscription permits in-person use at the library only.

*This blog post is an update of a blog post previously published on December 2, 2014.

**For more information about understanding legal research, including the difference between primary and secondary legal resources, check out these research guides.

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