Discussion Forum Question – Here is what you client told you…

Forum Discussion Question:

All the passengers getting off a flight to Miami were taken to a small room at the airport by Miami police. They were questioned and their clothing and luggage was searched.

You decide to begin by looking for cases although you usually start with secondary sources.

What was your best case search on Westlaw Edge and on Lexis Advance? Be detailed. Your colleagues should be able to replicate your search.
Also, include in your answers the best case from both searches.
A few takeaways……
Were you surprised when sometimes you and or you colleagues did not find the same case on both Westlaw Edge and Lexis Advance?  Does this mean that if you only had one system that you might not find a very good case?
One question that would need to be answered is whether the same jurisdictions were being searched?  Was one researchers  searching all federal cases and the other federal and state cases?  Was one just searching United States Supreme Court cases?  It is very important to consider the jurisdictions to be searched.  One of the items that you will need to include in the RG is the jurisdiction being searched for cases, statutes, and regulations.  For other items. you need to explain the what resources are being searched.
Sometimes researchers assume that they can use the exact same search for both Westlaw Edge and Lexis Advance.  You may need to adjust your search query depending upon the system.  Remember that Westlaw Edge’s and Lexis Advances’ search algorithms  are different and that their search structures may also be different.
And, even on one system,  it may take a number of searches to find the search that will retrieve the best results.
A number of you limited your jurisdiction to cases from Florida (not sure if just state cases or if Florida federal cases were included) and United States Supreme Court cases.  Is this a federal or state issue?  If you are unsure, you would want to search both jurisdictions.  And, you would not want to limit to just the U.S. Supreme Court cases.  Remember, the cases from  11th federal circuit court of appeals also are mandatory.
Also, one of my directions was to be sure that your colleagues could replicate your search.  Many of you did not follow that instruction.  It is very important to learn how to explain the steps you took when searching an issue.  It is important because you will need to do so when for your Research Guide and you will need to do it in practice.
Many times in practice you will be asked to update your work product.  You cannot bill the client  again for your time and the databases charges to research from the beginning.  You need to figure out a system to keep notes on the successful searches that you used for each work product.
Also, there will be times that you are researching many projects at once  and you will need to keep good notes on what you have done on each so that you can pick up the quest without having to redo anything.
You may realize that your use of Westlaw Edge, Lexis Advance, etc. will be billed to the client or to the firm.  Your time will also be billed to the client or to the firm and you need to be as efficient and accurate as possible.
Please let me know your questions about this post and any other questions about this discussion forum question.

Forum Discussions & Assessment Questions for Module 3

HI all,

Let’s start with the Discussion Forum Questions.

In general, please remember to answer all the questions that I asked in Forum Discussion posts.  Also,  your responses should more than something like “I did the same” or “I liked it.”  Pick out something in the answer and extend it.

Forum Discussion Questions:

Google Scholar:  Using Google Scholar, find a useful legal periodical article on the subject of adoption in Florida, specifically dealing with the father’s consent.  Cite the article using Bluebook citation form and explain what the Cited By reference means and why it would be useful in research.

HeinOnline:  Find the same article in HeinOnline.  What does ScholarCheck mean when it states that the article was Cited By X articles and Accessed X times?  Look at the Cited By Articles. Do you see any article cited by both Google Scholar and ScholarCheck (other than the article you found in Goggle Scholar)? If so, please cite one using Bluebook form.


A couple of thoughts:

A number of y’all mentioned that GoogleScholar links to subscription databases that you can’t access and that makes it not as useful a resource.  Yes, Google Scholar  links to both subscription and free databases/websites. HeinOnline was a subscription database specifically mentioned.  It would be nice to always be able to click through,  but you have found a useful citation.  You also may have access to the subscription database (let’s say HeinOnline) but not through GoogleScholar so find out if you have access to it in your place of employment.  You certainly have access to HeinOnline while you are in law school.  Just go to Subscription databases on the law library’s web page.  The article may also be on  Westlaw Edge and Lexis Advance, if you have access.  And since you have a citation, depending upon your contract, it may cost you less than to retrieve than doing a search.

One of the benefits of HeinOnline is that it provides a PDF of the article which means you can see the images in the article.  Lexis Advance and Westlaw Edge are text based systems and do not display images in most if not all of their materials.

You can limit to articles on GoogleScholar by clicking on the radio button on the landing page.

Remember that you cal also use Google Scholar to find cases.  This may be a useful resource to mention in your Research Guide.

Always look at the citator type functions that many databases and websites are offering.  They can be quite useful in finding other materials.  You always need to figure out what the function can and cannot do.  It may take some time in the beginning to understand the citator-type functions but it will be well worth the time since many of the resources you are learning about now you will be using in the future.

In the Research Guide, you may want to both HeinOnline and Google Scholar.   If you decide to include them, just like other sources, you will need to explain step by step how you used the sources and if you have found the citator-type features useful mention those also.

And as a note, you can Shepardize and KeyCite many periodical articles, especially law review/law journal articles.

Assessment Questions:

One of the questions dealt with authoritative sources.  Remember that a scholarly treatise is more authoritative than encyclopedias and study aids.

You can Shepardize and KeyCite many periodical articles, especially law review/law journal articles.  You may want to consider this for your Research Guide.

The answer for question 2 was incorrect.  For most research projects, it is recommended that you begin your research with SECONDARY SOURCES.

American Law Reports is NOT a comprehensive source.  The editors choose an interesting case and then write an annotation of the subject area of the case.  There are many issues where no annotations have been written.  If you find an annotation on your subject, you are very lucky.  The  editor has done much of the case research for you.  You, of course, need to be sure to update the research as necessary.



CALI Introduction to Search Logic & Strategies & Assessment Quiz for Module 2

Hi all,

CALI Lesson:

There are  number of reasons why it is important to learn terms and connector searching.  One is that it focuses your attention on the search query – you need to think what terms to use for your search, how near they should be to each other, and where you want to see them in the case, law review article, treatise, etc.

For example, You want to retrieve documents about a dog or canine or German Shepherd biting or scratching a suspect.

Which is the source more likely to find a case on point?

  1.  dog  AND bite AND suspect
  2. dog OR canine OR “german shepherd” /S bit! OR scratch! /P suspect

Think about the first search – you are requiring Westlaw Edge and Lexis Advance to retrieve cases that have the term dog, bite and suspect to be anywhere in the case.  Dog could be on page one, bite on page 25, and suspect on page 30.  That case may not be very promising.

And the second search – here you are requiring dog, canine or “german shepard” in the same sentence as bite or biting or bitten or scratch within the same paragraph as suspect.  Much more promising.

You still may need to adjust your search to find the best cases but you definitely will be further along with search number 2.

And, remember that you also have the ability to filter after the search.

And, of course, before you search you need to decide what resources you are going to search.

Remember that searching is an process.  It is an iterative process. You may want to keep  notes on what searches worked and which did not. And, keep notes on filtering, etc.  For the Research Guide, you provide the search(es) that return the best results.  Best search(es) for best results.

You also need to consider the type of materials you are searching.  Your search queries for cases may be different that your search queries for law review articles since the terms the author use and the placement with in the materials may be different.  And you may decide for statutes that you will use a natural language search rather than a terms and connectors search since statutes are written very differently cases.

A “Google”  or “Bing” or other search engine search rarely will suffice in a complex, legal database.

From looking at the answers to the CALI lesson and the assessment quiz, many of you may want to review the materials on searching, especially before you begin working on the Research Guide.  If you have any questions, please let me know.

Assessment Quiz:

Many of the questions on the Assessment Quiz were from the CALI lesson.  So please see again the information about the CALI Lesson.

I just want to comment on a couple of questions that did not involve searching.

DuckDuckGo allows you to search the web without being tracked.  You can stay anonymous online.  This may be useful in some instances.

American Jurisprudence 2d is NOT more authoritative than Rotunda’s and Nowak’s  treatise.  American Jurisprudence 2d is an legal encyclopedia.  It aims to cover the entire body of legal doctrine in broad strokes.  An encyclopedia is not generally seen as a persuasive secondary source, but it usually provides a good overview of an area of law.  Nowak’s and Rotunda’s treatise is a very authoritative source.  It is an in-depth treatise written by two respected scholars which provides comprehensive coverage of an area of law including criticism and suggested improvements.  Treatises, in general, have no binding authority but many are highly respected and have been cited by courts.


CALI Internet Legal Resources – Free Resources and Evaluating Websites & Forum Question – Institute for Historical Review

Some thoughts in no particular order:

Domain Names:

.org started out for non-profit organizations but now it is used for both non-profit and for-profit entities.  Right entities using .org is very diverse, including cultural institutions, associations, sports teams, religious, and civic organizations, open-source software projects, schools, environmental initiatives, social, and fraternal organizations, health organizations, legal services, as well as clubs, and community-volunteer groups. Some cities also use .org.

.com started out for commercial entities but it now it is used for general purposes, including state agencies.  For example, https://www.freshfromflorida.com/ is the URL for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Institute for Historical Review:

One of the methods of evaluation of the website would be to look at the media articles.  Do you recognize and know all the media outlets?  For example, what is RT-News?  You might take a quick look at Wikipedia or some other resource.

Another would be to take a look at the articles written by individuals published on the website.  I took a look at Mark Weber’s article on Biden.   http://ihr.org/other/biden_jewish_role   It looks like he is summarizing a speech that Biden gave in 2013.  He started a sentence in the article – “Biden might also have mentioned……” and then went on to discuss items that I did not think that Biden would have said.  I realized then I needed to know more about Mr. Weber and took a look at Wikipedia.

Wikipedia was very useful.  I assume that we all  know how Wikipedia works, but if you do not please contact me.  Wikipedia can be a quick way to begin to get a read in certain areas.

Many of you realized that this website was not to be trusted.  For those of you who did not, please take a look at all the forum answers and responses and re-look at the website.  Accurate evaluation of websites is a critical skill. Please let me know if you have any questions.


Discussion – CALI Lessons for Modules 2 & 3

Hi all,

I have looked at the analytics from the following CALI lessons:

Subject Specific Treatises, Introduction to Search Logic and Strategies, American Law Reports, Internet Legal Resources – Free Resources, and Evaluating Websites.

This post will cover Subject Specific Treatises, Introduction to Search Logic and Strategies, and American Law Reports.  Another post will discuss the two other lessons.

Let’s start with American Law Reports (ALR).  At the beginning, West Publishing had decided that they would publish every case decision that they could get their hands on.  So that was their business model – the National Reporter System.  Lawyers Cooperative Publishing came along and they realized that they could not compete with West’s business model so they decided to publish an important case and then to write an annotation that described other decisions on similar issues to accompany the case.  So the case is just a starting point for them.   You should cite the “important case” using the West cite – the National Reporter System cite  and possibly the state cite, if appropriate. You could include if you thought it important the ALR citation of the case and annotation but folks are going to want to read and cite the case using the National Reporter System Citation and possibly the state cite, if appropriate.

Next – Introduction to Search Logic and Strategies.  I will talk about this lesson when I post on the Module 2 Assessment Quiz.

And – Subject Specific Treatises.   Just a couple of points.  One of the asked is an administrative regulation was a good place to consult in order to locate a treatise.  Neither a regulation  nor a statute would be a good place to locate a treatise.  Both are primary law.  You might find a citation to a treatise if you were using a resource that annotated the statute or regulation.  That is to say, included information about the statute or regulation as well as the statute or regulation itself.  Now case decisions which are also primary law might mention a treatise but a case decisions would not be good places to consult to locate a treatise on a specific topic.

Hope this is useful.  Please let me know your questions.