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Case Finding and Advanced Searching Strategies

Overview

Some secondary sources cover federal law and federal court procedures, while other secondary sources focus on the law or procedures of a particular state. Both Westlaw and Lexis make it easy for you to filter the sources by jurisdiction. 

Federal

If you are trying to learn more about a federal law (e.g., the Presidential Records Act, 44 U.S.C. §§ 2201–2207) or a federal court rule (e.g., FRE 404), you may wish to start with a secondary source specific to federal law or federal courts. 

Westlaw: Click on "Secondary Sources" on Westlaw's homepage to access the Secondary Sources page. Narrow the publications by selecting "Federal" under "Jurisdiction" in the left sidebar. You will likely also wish to further filter the results by source type (e.g., Jurisprudence & Encyclopedias, Texts & Treatises, etc.). 

Lexis: Click on "Secondary Materials" on Lexis's homepage, then select "Federal." A direct link to Federal Secondary Materials is available here

Suggested Treatises: 

State

If your research question is relevant to a particular state, you can start with the jurisdiction to find relevant secondary sources. 

Westlaw: Select the "State Materials" tab on Westlaw's homepage just under the search bar, then click on the state of interest. Click on the link under "Secondary Sources" to view "All [STATE] Secondary Sources." 

Screenshot of Westlaw showing the location of the "State materials" tab

Lexis: Select the "State" tab on Lexis's homepage under the search bar, then click on the state of interest. Scroll down past the primary law (cases, statutes and legislation, administrative codes and regulations) and look under the "Secondary Materials" section. 

Suggested California Treatises and Practice Guides: