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Law Database Tutorials

Recommended videos and written instructions for commonly-used law databases.

Getting Started with Westlaw

One of the most widely-used legal databases, Westlaw includes a great amount of primary and secondary law sources. Main features of Westlaw:

  • West Key Number System, which allows for simple discovery of cases on a topic
  • Practical Law, a separate database devoted to practical guidance, which includes forms, checklists, and relevant news
  • Ability to transform search alerts into a custom newsletter

Search Strategies

West Key Number System

The Key Number system allows you to easily find relevant cases on a topic, helping you to start or expand upon your research. See this short video to learn more about utilizing Key Numbers. (4:38)

Advanced Searching

This video demonstrates how to use Boolean/terms and connectors searching within the main search bar or by using the Advanced Search page. (3:08)

Finding Multiple Cases at Once

If you have several citations, you can pull them up quickly by using the Find & Print option within Westlaw. (2:08)

Finding Statutes

Finding Statutes

If you don't know the exact form of a statute you need to find, the "Find Template" feature within Westlaw is very useful. This video describes how to find and use the tool. (2:10)

Staying Organized

Copy with Reference

If you highlight text within Westlaw, you have the option to save your notes to a folder or to copy the citation so that you can paste it elsewhere. See this video to learn more. (The "Standard" reference format aligns closely with The Bluebook.) (1:38)


Folders are an easy way to keep track of your research on a topic. Watch this video to learn shortcuts and how to create a research report from contents in a folder. (4:26)

Custom Pages

Custom pages allow you to pull specific content areas relevant to a topic onto its own page, which can make research more efficient. You can also choose to use a custom page as your default home page. (5:20)

Citator: KeyCite

Westlaw's citator, KeyCite, helps you find subsequent treatment of your case, statute, or other legal source. This video explains how to use the feature. (4:09)