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Cost-Effective Electronic Legal Research: Search Features Compared

Search Features Compared

Search Feature
Get a Document/Find Type citation into the all in one search box Type citation into the all in one search box
Search by topic

Use the pulldown menu (underneath the search box) and select a topic to search
OR
Use the Browse Topic feature. For each subtopic you can: get documents and search these documents, add the topic to a search, create an alert or add to favorites.
OR
Click on Browse Sources and select a practice area to see a list of sources.  Limit by content type, such as secondary sources, cases, legal news, etc.
OR

Use Lexis Practice Advisor for certain topics such as Banking, Real Estate, Corporate Counsel and more. (access from the red Research tab at the top)

 

 

Use the Browse Widget on the home page to search various topics and find different types of materials for each topic.

You can utilize the browse feature to drill down into certain resource types, ex. Secondary sources, statutes, etc.

You can utilize Practice Area and search materials relevant to just that particular practice area. 

You can utilize Custom Pages to create your own specific page.

 

Pick and Choose Sources to Search

Click on Browse Sources and select multiple sources to search all at once

Use the Browse Widget on the home page to select groups of sources to search all at once.

Search Prefilters

 

(For searching in a particular source, such as Ohio Jurisprudence, see Find Content page of this guide.)

Content type: cases, statutes, analytical materials, briefs, etc.
Can select what content type will show first. (via pulldown menu underneath the search bar)

Filtering by a particular source, such as a particular treatise by using Browse Sources link (upper right).  From there, you can search for sources or browse a list of sources.  Multiple sources can be combined for one search.

Jurisdictions: Select federal (all federal) or a particular state by using pulldown menu underneath the search bar. 

If you want a particular federal jurisdiction, click on Browse Sources in the upper right.  Select U.S. Federal from the Jurisdiction list on the left.  Then add desired jurisdiction to search.


Practice areas. 
Use the pulldown menu (underneath the search box) and select a topic to search
OR
Use the Browse Topic feature. For each subtopic you can: get documents and search these documents, add the topic to a search, create an alert or add to favorites.

Content type:  From the Browse Widget, select types, such as cases or secondary sources.  Can also drill down and pick law reviews,  text and treatises, etc.  Can then pick a certain treatise.







Jurisdiction (federal, particular appellate level federal court  or court level (supreme, appellate, district)










Practice areas.  Can browse to particular sources and tools on the tabbed Browse Widget from the homepage.

Search Postfilters

Must be on a tab for particular content type to get postfilters .

Postfilters include:

  • Search within Results
  • Practice area
  • Keyword (from a list - uses CoreTerms)
  • Most Cited (from a list)
  • Jurisdiction
  • Published status (published v. unpublished cases)

Some filters unique to type of content:  eg.  Cases have a timeline and a court filter whereas statutes do not.  Analytical materials and statutes have content type (eg. for statutes, constitution, codes, court rules)  where cases do not. 

 

Must pick a content type (cases, statutes, etc.)  before postfiltering.

Postfilters include:

  • Search Within Results
  • Search Within Document
  • Jurisdiction
  • Unreported vs. reported cases



Some filters unique to the type of content: Date, Reported v. Unreported are filters for courts, Statute title is an option for Statutes,  Document type, date are options for Secondary Sources.

 

Natural Language Algorithm

(WestSearch™ Algorithm in Westlaw)

Based on the number of times the terms are mentioned, proximity of terms and the prominence or “landmarkedness” of a case ("activity score").  

Automatic phrase recognition and case name recognition. 

Implied phrases between connectors.

Synonyms and Term equivalency for legal concepts, which can be turned on and off by going to Settings.  The default is off.

Words in quotes are searched first.

"WestSearch"

Incorporates the key number system,  relationships between documents  from KeyCite, editorially created statute indexes,  secondary source information, aggregate user behavior of professional users, term frequency, term proximity. 

"WestSearch goes beyond literal search engines."

Term equivalency for legal concepts.

When typing a search, system offers suggestions Wordwheel - makes suggestions of terms, case names Will suggest databases and specific publications you may be looking for (Looking for this?)

When doing a terms and connectors search, Westlaw also provides Additional Relevant Westsearch cases using the Westsearch algorithm, in addition to your terms and connectors results.

Searching for Synonyms

Synonyms and Term equivalency for legal concepts, which can be turned on and off by going to Settings.  The default is off.

Lexis Advance Synonym and Legal Equivalent example:  For example, search for mutual mistake and Lexis Advance searches for mutual mistake OR mutual OR mistake. Invoke the equivalents feature, and the search becomes mutual mistake or reciprocal mistake or mutual or mistake. (Lexis Advance is already searching for documents with mistake, so it has already found anything that might be a result of reciprocal mistake.) 

 
Suggested sources on point to the search (or to the document) For each case, shows Topic Summary, which lists a topical hierarchy, a summary of that issue, secondary sources that discuss the issue and a list of seminal cases. Related Documents (at the search) and Related Topics (at each case or document - has a list of cases dealing with that topic) appear
Sort results by

Relevance is the default.

Other ways to sort are available depending on the content type.  For example, court cases can be sorted by court or date, but not content type.    The following may be available: sort by:  document title (A-Z), content type, court, date or jurisdiction.

 

Relevance is the default.  Other ways to sort are available depending on the content type. 

Can sort cases by date, most cited and most used (aggregate customer usage).

Statutes and regulations can be sorted by most cited, date (in versioned jurisdictions) and Table of Contents (numerical order of code sections)

Secondary sources can also be sorted by date, most cited.

View More or Less Detail of a Document in the Results List At the top right, click View to select Overview only, Overview plus Terms (terms in context) or Overview plus Extract (section of document where most terms are found) Click the first icon on the left (called the view detail selector) that looks like several lines to view more or less snippet detail.
Various documents open in tabs when doing a search A tab will open for your search results, for each document you click on in the results, and a separate tab for a case when you Shepardize it, so you can click back and forth between the documents and results.

Westlaw does not have this feature.

However when you click on a document to view it, it will have tabs of content-sensitive information about the document above the title.  These tabs are powered by KeyCite.

Toggle for fewer or expanded results

Under more options, select Narrow Search by Removing Legal Phrase Equivalents, or Run as a Natural Language Search (if the search was a terms and connectors search).  If the search was a natural language search, you may choose to rerun it as terms and connectors, and type in your terms and connectors.

Can limit/expand natural language results by clicking on Fewer Results or Expanded Results at the top.  Fewer results truncates off less relevant results.

When doing a terms and connectors search, Westlaw also provides Additional Relevant Westsearch cases using the Westsearch algorithm (natural language), in addition to your terms and connectors results. 

Copy and paste with citation in Bluebook or other format Copy and paste part of document with a citation in Bluebook for Briefs or California format.  More formats coming soon. Copy and paste part of document with a citation in Bluebook for Briefs, Bluebook for Law Review, and a number of state formats, including Ohio.