Feb. 21, 2005.
Kristy Moon, editor.
Westlaw Tips That Are Worth Remembering
--Rachael Smith, Reference Intern
Many of you might feel completely familiar with Westlaw.
However, for those of you who know that there are tricks to using this online
service more efficiently but cannot remember them, here are several tips:
How to find an appropriate database
- The Directory link takes you to a list of general subject
headings. These range from “Public Records” and “International/Worldwide
Materials” to “Topical Practice Areas” materials. Clicking on a subject
heading and drilling through the folders and sub-folders will eventually lead
to a select list of databases.
- From the Directory, or by clicking on the Westlaw tab, you’ll see
"Find a Database Wizard" link on the left frame. The wizard will walk you
through an interactive process to determine an appropriate database for your
- KeySearch - bypass selecting a database by using the West Topic
and Key Number which is based on West's own organization of legal issues. You
choose a Topic and run a keyword search to retrieve relevant cases or secondary
How to refine or brush up on your research skills
“Understanding Westlaw” and “Effective Research on Westlaw” links,
to online tutorials and FAQs on topics such as basic searching skills, primary
law research, secondary law research, and topical areas research.
How to keep up to date and informed on a topic of interest
Browse recent newspapers,
periodicals, caselaw, Federal Register, Congressional Record, Andrews
Litigation Reporter, Westlaw Bulletins, and Westlaw Topical Highlights through:
- http://westnewslink.westlaw.com, or
- from http://lawschool.westlaw.com, click on “News Bulletins” (second link up
from the bottom of the screen).
- WestClip – set up a clipping service to monitor news and legal
developments in your areas of interest. Access WestClip by clicking on the
“More” drop-down menu located at the top right corner of the screen.
How to cite check quickly and effectively
- WestCheck automatically extracts citations from a word-processing document (or you can create your own
list of citations) and checks the citations for validity and citing references
in KeyCite. Go to www.westcheck.com or download WestCheck software from
http://lawschool.westlaw.com (click on Discover Westlaw > Westlaw Services
> download WestCheck).
- WestCiteLink automatically finds the
legal citations in your word-processing document and links them to the
full-text documents on Westlaw. It can also
create a table of authorities for your document. Download
WestCiteLink software from http://lawschool.westlaw.com (click on Discover Westlaw > Westlaw
Services > download WestCiteLink).
How to access the table of contents for basic legal sources
Table of Contents link, at the top center of the screen, provides TOC for sources such as federal and state
constitutions, codes, regulations, court rules, and numerous secondary
sources. TOC lets you view a document in the context of the sections
surrounding it and makes it easier to retrieve related sections.
Where to get additional help
- Westlaw Account Manager for UW School of Law, Anna Guerra, 800-600-6435.
- Westlaw Reference Attorneys, 800-REF-ATTY (24/7).
- Westlaw Technical Support, 800-WESTLAW (24/7).
- Westlaw Live Help, click on the “Help” link (7am-midnight CST).
- Reference Librarians – walk in, telephone, or email the Reference Office
Hopefully, these tips will hold true when you are
researching in the “real world” using the different levels of Westlaw access
that are provided by employers. These tips are important because in most
setting you will not have the luxury of unlimited access with respect to money
or time. Time is already a luxury for most law students!
Stay tuned for LexisNexis tips coming in the near future.
Book of the Week and Trivia: America’s Lawyer-Presidents
In honor of Presidents’ Day holiday, here is a trivia
contest based on Norman Gross (Ed.), America’s Lawyer-Presidents: From Law
Office to Oval Office (Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press,
2004) (KF353.A46 2004 at Classified Stacks).
The book is an undertaking of the ABA Museum of Law,
www.abanet.org/museum, as a part of
their America’s Lawyer-Presidents project. (Did you know that there was a
Museum of Law? I’m definitely checking it out the next time I’m in Chicago.)
The book has an encyclopedia look and feel with glossy paper and beautiful
color photographs. (When was the last time you read a book with pictures?)
Although there are plenty of books that profile American presidents, none focus
on their legal careers and the impact that the legal training had on their
Here you’ll find fascinating quotes and observations about the subjects’
legal abilities and law practices from their contemporaries and later
historians. For example, here is a colorful insult and praise about one
lawyer-president: He was “an artful, cunning, intriguing, selfish lawyer,”
concerned only with “office and money”…but “give him time to collect the
requisite information…and no man can produce an abler argument.” Take a look at
this book and learn more about your favorite lawyer-president.
Can you answer the following questions without looking in
the book? Give it a try (answers are at the bottom).
- Who was America’s first lawyer-president?
- He was the first lawyer-president of the twentieth century and had the
most diverse legal career of all the lawyer-presidents, serving as a law
reporter, prosecuting attorney, superior court and federal judge, law school
professor and dean, U.S. solicitor general, and chief justice of the United
- Although he claimed, “I am not an accomplished lawyer,” he handled more
than five thousand cases, including four hundred before the Illinois Supreme
Court, and his clients included railroads, banks, and corporations.
- He argued before the Supreme Court in the high-profile case of Time v. Hill. Although he lost the case five to four, he
received high praise for his legal scholarship and oral arguments.
- This lawyer-president was “the most roaring,
rollicking, game-cocking, horse-racing, card-playing, mischievous fellow” who
“did not trouble with the law-books much [and] was much more in the stable than
in the office.”
- This eloquent lawyer-president defended the African slaves before the
Supreme Court in the Amistad case in 1841.
- How many of the forty-three presidents have been lawyers (five, fifteen,
Match the president with the most appropriate description:
- Thomas Jefferson
- William Howard Taft
- Richard M. Nixon
- Woodrow Wilson
- Andrew Jackson
- Martin Van Buren
- Abraham Lincoln
- Franklin Delano Roosevelt
- Grover Cleveland
- Mr. Chief Justice
- Contrarian Counselor
- An Honest Lawyer
- Reluctant Lawyer
- Boy Lawyer
- Legal Wordsmith
- Prairie Lawyer
- Frontier Justice
- Biocoastal Practitioner
(1. John Adams, 2. William
Howard Taft, 3. Abraham Lincoln, 4. Richard Nixon, 5. Andrew Jackson, 6. John
Quincy Adams, 7. twenty-five, (1) f, (2) a, (3) i, (4) d, (5) h, (6) e, (7) g,
(8) b, (9) c)