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Finding Case Law

Sources and strategies for finding case law about a topic.

"One Good Case" Method

If you have already found a relevant case for your topic, there are three techniques that you can use to find other relevant cases.

Option 1: Look Backwards

View the list of cases that the court cited in its decision. These cases will be found in the Table of Authorities (TOA).

Westlaw

In Westlaw, the case text includes a tab for the TOA:

Westlaw screenshot: choosing the Table of Authorities tab

 

Lexis Advance

In Lexis Advance, the TOA is located within the Shepard's report. (See the Citators page of this guide for more information on Shepard's.) First click on "Shepardize this document."

Lexis screenshot: selecting the Shepard's report

Then, select "Table of Authorities" to find a list of cases cited by your case.

Lexis screenshot: choosing the Table of Authorities from the Shepard's report

 

Bloomberg Law

BLAW also includes a tab for the TOA within the main text of the case:

BLAW screenshot: selecting the TOA from the court opinion

Option 2: Look Forwards

Use the database's citator to find later cases which cited to your One Good Case. See the Citators page of this guide for detailed instructions on using citators.

Option 3: Look Around

Use the headnotes (topics applied to your case by the database's editorial staff) to find other cases which discuss the same legal issue as your case.

Westlaw

The West Key Number System allows you to easily find other cases that have been categorized into the same issue(s) as your case. To find these cases, click on the key number link(s), which appear near the top of the case:

Westlaw screenshots: finding headnotes

 

Lexis Advance

Within your case, first select the "Go to" drop-down menu and choose LexisNexis Headnotes:

Lexis screenshot: selecting the Headnotes viewing option

Then, you can click on the links provided to find more cases (and other documents) that have been categorized with the headnote:

Lexis screenshot: locating documents with the same headnote

 

 

Bloomberg Law

Bloomberg currently only includes headnotes for a limited number of topic areas: Communications Law, Employment, Environmental Law, Health, Intellectual Property, Labor, and Trade. See this video for more details (5:48):