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Case Finding and Advanced Searching Strategies

Overview

Some secondary sources focus on a particular topic or subject. If you are absolutely certain about the relevant topic for your legal issue (for instance, if you know for sure that the first sale doctrine pertains to copyright law or intellectual property law), you can browse for secondary sources by topic. 

However, you should note that this is often a much more risky strategy for finding secondary sources than going in by the source type or jurisdiction. The secondary sources have been classified by topic by the editors of Westlaw and Lexis, and they may have classified a source under a topic differently than where you think it would fit best. 

Topics on Westlaw

On Westlaw's homepage, select "Secondary Sources" to access the Secondary Sources page, then scroll down to see the list of topics available. Click on one of the linked topics to see a list of related secondary sources. Note, however, that Westlaw will also include general sources in this list that only partially discuss the topic, like legal encyclopedias: 

Screenshot of Westlaw's list of secondary sources within the "International Law" topic

Review the list of "Suggested Titles" on the upper right of the page for the most authoritative and relevant sources on this specific topic. You may also wish to further narrow your results by selecting a jurisdiction or publication type (e.g., legal encyclopedias and jurisprudences or texts and treatises). 

 

Practice Areas on Lexis

On Lexis's homepage, select "Secondary Materials" to access the Secondary Materials page. Scroll down to the Practice Area section to browse the secondary sources by topic. Each topic's page presents some recommended sources, along with a link to all sources on that topic. 

Screenshot of Lexis's list of practice areas