Site Search | Site Index

Site Search | Site Index

Law Library News

Law Library News Archive

May 17, 2004
Sarah Hollingsworth, Editor

 -- Nancy McMurrer

As you do your research for a paper, brief, or memo, you should be using KeyCite and Shepard’s to make sure that the line of reasoning you are pursuing is valid and to expand your research. As you make the last changes and polish your work, remember to check KeyCite and Shepard’s once more. You do not want to run the risk that a case on which you have relied has recently been interpreted in a different way or even overruled! 

When your paper has a number of citations, checking each one-by-one through Shepard’s and KeyCite can take considerable time. For just such occasions, both Westlaw and LexisNexis have developed software that automates the cite-checking process. They work somewhat similarly. You browse your electronic word processing files to locate your paper (or type in its electronic file path) and the program automatically extracts the citations for you. You merely select what Shepard’s or KeyCite services you wish, type in your ID or password, and your citations are checked and a report furnished. 

Westlaw’s automated citation verification program, called WestCheck, is available on software or as a web-based program. Go to and scroll down until you find the Software link. Clicking there takes you to the webpage where you can either download the WestCheck software, or go to the web-based program by clicking on the Learn more about WestCheck link. You may also go directly to WestCheck on the Web at  

The LexisNexis software program for this automated citation verification tool is called CheckCite. To download a free copy of the software, go to Scroll down the page a bit until you see the CheckCite link on the right side under Research Links.  Click there and follow the directions for downloading. 

Whether you use the software or Westlaw’s web-based program, you can save yourself time and hassle by using one of these automated citation-verification tools. Try them out next time you have a group of citations you wish to check through KeyCite or Shepard’s! 


 -- Nancy McMurrer

Remember CALR training during your 1L year? “Learn to search efficiently,” you were told, “because LexisNexis and Westlaw are expensive.” Perhaps when you clerked during the summer, you were warned to be careful about the time you spent using one of those services because they are expensive. But how expensive are they? 

Westlaw’s Anna Guerra has invited some of her colleagues that work with practitioners to talk about the costs of searching online in a session on Tuesday, May 18 at 12:30 in room 133. If you are interested in learning about how this vendor prices service, you should R.S.V.P. to Anna at This session is designed to provide you with information: no attendance will be kept so for a later sales contact, and there will be no official sales pitch. 

LexisNexis, like Westlaw, has several different plans and payment options that might suit your practice needs. Ben Gresh, our LexisNexis representative would be happy to get you pricing information about LexisNexis and its various pricing plans. You can contact him at For tips about keeping costs down, consider Build Your Future (Parts 1 and 2) classes on May 19 and 20 at 12:30. Sign up at  

There are also alternatives to LexisNexis and Westlaw that may satisfy your online research needs at perhaps a lower price. Three of those services, Loislaw, Quicklaw America, and VersusLaw, provide you with access while you are students so that you can try out their services. For more information about them and hotlinks to their websites, go to




If you're about to begin a summer clerkship or you’re going out into the “real world” to practice law, and you think the above statement is “TRUE,” then there are a couple of new titles in our library that you may want to check out before your first day on the job.

§         Nancy L. Schultz & Louis J. Sirico, Jr., Legal Writing and Other Lawyering Skills (4th ed., Newark, NJ:  LexisNexis, 2004) (KF250 .I57 2004 at Reference Area).


If nothing else, look over the Table of Contents in this book so you’ll know where you can go at a moment’s notice if you're asked to draft a document you’ve never seen (or more likely, seen but since forgotten).  Most of the chapters in this book directly relate to the wide assortment of documents that law students are typically called upon to draft during their summer hiatus -- client opinion letters, pre-trial motions, memos, pleadings, appellate briefs, etc.  Understanding the framework and purpose of these documents is the first thing you need to do, and this book is structured to make that a fast and easy process.  And, as an added bonus, almost half of this book is devoted to providing "real life" examples of many of these types of documents.

 §         Elizabeth Fajans, Mary R. Falk, & Helene S. Shapo, Writing for Law Practice (New York, NY: Foundation Press, 2004) (KF250 .F36 2004 at Reference Area).

This book will be of interest and assistance to 2Ls and graduates who may be called upon to craft legal documents that require a higher level of skill and experience, Part 1 of Writing looks at complaints, answers, and motions within the context of litigation.  Part 2 focuses on a wide variety of law office letters -- cover letters, advice letters, opinion letters, and demand letters -- and on office memoranda, trial and appellate briefs, and judicial opinions.  Part 3 looks at draft legislation, contracts, and wills. 

Ø Editor's Note:  If, after looking over these resources, you're still feeling a little shaky about that first day on the job, be sure to check out the notice below about the Bridge-the-Gap Program.



Mark your calendar now for the 9th Annual Bridge-the-Legal-Research-Gap Program which will be held here at Gates Hall on Wednesday, June 23, 2004, from 12:00 noon until 5:00 pm.  This comprehensive and fast-paced review program was designed especially for 1Ls and 2Ls who want to bolster their legal research skills before starting summer clerkships. 
This program typically draws dozens of students -- from law schools throughout the nation -- who are here in Seattle to work for the summer.  Best of all, it is completely free.  Look for more information about registration and program details in next week's issue of Law Library News and on the Law Library's website,




     Of course, the law is not the place for the artist or the poet.  The law is the calling of thinkers.


---Oliver Wendell Holmes,
Profession of the Law, Speeches 22 Coll. Leg. Pap. 29 (1913)