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Workshops in the Library Research Series


About this Workshop

This workshop will enable you to locate and evaluate alternatives to Westlaw and Lexis for your legal research needs.

The online workshop is comprised of a 15-minute video, along with a rubric for assessing legal research services, and links to particular services.    Also included is a handout identifying and linking to selected resources and a guided (ungraded) activity, which will take you through a few steps for assessing these services.  

Watch Our Video!

Evaluating a Legal Research Platform

When evaluating a legal research platform, either as your exclusive platform, or to supplement another service, consider: 

  1. The strength of the citator. Citators (such as Shepard's for Lexis, or KeyCite for Westlaw) will tell you whether your case has been overruled in a subsequent decision or abrogated by statute.  If you are doing case law research, you need a citator to check that your cases are good law before you cite them in a brief or a memo. 
  2. Search capabilities. Most platforms have some form of natural language search (similar to a Google search) as well as Boolean search (which allows greater control).  However, each platform has different algorithms powering their search, which can lead to very different results across platforms.
  3. Breadth of coverage. Most services provide at least federal and state case law and statutes.  Others also provide regulations, administrative rulings and materials, secondary sources, and more.  You can usually find information about coverage by looking for a statement of coverage in the help pages of the platform. 

Additional Resources