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Boolean and Terms & Connectors Searching

Ask us anything!

Law librarians and library staff are available to help you find your way around the library and its legal materials, provide research support, and assist you in locating materials that are not in our library. You can find the latest information about our hours and services on the library homepage. There are several ways to contact us:

Email us

In Person: The Borrowing Services Desk and Reference Office are on the main floor of the law library. Online and in-person appointments with the reference staff can be made from the library homepage

Call us:

Borrowing Services Desk: (650) 723-2477
Reference Desk: (650) 725-0800

Research Consultations

If you're having trouble understanding or using these search tools to find what you need, we would be happy to meet with you to discuss strategies for finding cases and to assist you with brainstorming useful search strings.  You can set up an appointment with a reference librarian on the Robert Crown Law Library's homepage (just click on the "Request a Research Consultation" button).

You can also find a more detailed information about these research tools in the Case Finding and Advanced Searching Strategies guide

Segment Searching

If you are looking for a very specific case or set of cases, such as every opinion that a certain judge has written or dissented in or a case with a particular party name, you can conduct a segment search.  In both Westlaw and Lexis, you access this option by navigating to the Cases page then selecting the Advanced Search option.  Note that you do have to navigate to the Cases page first; if you just go to "Advanced Search" from the home page, you won't see the advanced options that are specific to cases. 

Lexis: On the home page, select "Cases," then pick the particular jurisdiction of interest (e.g., All federal, 9th Circuit - US Court of Appeals Cases, California Federal District Courts, etc.).  Click on "Advanced Search" just above the search bar. 

The advanced search form contains a section for Terms and a section for Document Segment/Fields.  The Document Segment/Fields section allows you to search by Party Name, Court, Date, Number, Citation, History, Disposition, Core Terms, Summary, Headnotes, Overview, Outcome, Attorney Name, Judges, Written By, Opinion By, Opinion, Concurrence By, Concurrence, Dissent By, and Dissent.  In the right sidebar, you can click on the images under "Segment Examples" to view illustrations of where each segment is located in a case. 

Westlaw: On the homepage, select "Cases," then pick the particular jurisdiction of interest.  Click on the "Advanced" link next to the search bar to access the advanced search form. 

The advanced search form contains sections for finding documents that have specific terms, excluding documents with specific terms, and document fields.  The Document Fields include Date, Party Name, Citation, Synopsis, Digest, Synopsis/Digest, Judge, Attorney, Court Name/Prelim, Docket Number, Background, Concurring, Court Abbreviation, Dissenting, Full-Text, Headnote, Holding, Lead, Notes, Opinions, Panel, Topic, Words & Phrases, and Written By.  In the right sidebar, you can click on the image of the sample case to view where each advanced search field is located on the document. 

Case Law Research Cheat Sheets