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Political Science 418: Legal Research & Writing: Using Nexis Uni

Legal Research Databases

Note: Articles on legal topics may appear in non-legal research databases, e.g., a legal topic related to business may be in a business publication and found using a business database. Ask a reference librarian for suggestions if needed.

Two general legal research databases: Nexis Uni and Westlaw - UW-Whitewater libraries' subscription to Westlaw was discontinued on Sept. 1, 2020.

Access from library database listing or use the link above. Log in with campus Net-ID when prompted.

Both contain federal and state appellate court cases, codes, and regulatory (administrative) law; American Jurisprudence legal encyclopedia; and law reviews. Nexis Uni provides Shepard’s, while Westlaw provides KeyCite for federal and state court case updating. Westlaw also provides American Law Reports, Corpus Juris Secundum, and Black's Law Dictionary.

Nexis Uni search tips

 Select "Cases" or "Law Reviews" on the initial database page for quick searches, or select "Advanced Search" then "Legal" and finally a category, e.g., Cases, to field search or select specific legal authorities. To search for a specific legal source, e.g., Code of Federal Regulations, search Nexis Uni sources (see screenshot). Use commands below for keyword searches.

 

Truncate: Use * for any number of characters at the end of a word/stem, e.g., child! finds children, child, child’s, childhood, etc.

Wild Card: Use * for one character somewhere within a word, e.g., wom*n retrieves woman or women

Phrases: Put in quotation marks  " "

Special commands to use between search terms (or use the drop-down choices):

AND: both search terms MUST be found (they don’t have to be an exact phrase)
OR: at least one term MUST appear (use for synonyms)
/s: the words or phrases appear within the same sentence (about 25 words)
/p: the words or phrases appear within the same paragraph (about 75 words)
/#: words or phrases in the same document in any order; the maximum word count between the two words/phrases is specified by #, which can be any number up to 255
PRE/#: finds both words or phrases in the same document. The first word/phrase must be in front of the second word/phrase. The maximum word count between the two words/phrases is specified by #, which can be any number up to 255.
AND NOT: exclude words or phrases from the answer set: Example: IRA AND NOT Irish. Use this connector as only the last one in a search. It has a negative impact on everything that follows it.

Shepardizing Graphic Legend:

Click any Shepard's editorial treatment signal (e.g., warning, questioned, etc.) to view its definition. See explanations of editorial treatment phrases at https://www.lexisnexis.com/pdf/lexis-advance/Shepards-Signal-Indicators-and-analysis-phrases-Final.pdf

 Shepard's signals

 

When looking at a case, select specific treatments at the right, or click to "Shepardize" for a complete display. Click "prior history" to see the court history of this case.

The full display includes legal issues involved, identified by the headnotes from the Shepardized case, and depth of treatment bars.

Westlaw search tips

UW-Whitewater libraries' subscription to Westlaw was discontinued on Sept. 1, 2020.

Use Advanced Search if you want to do field searching: Type strict: and then the field code and words in (), e.g.,  judge JU(kagan), Concurring CON(…), Dissenting DIS(…), Headnote - HE(…), Opinion OP(…)

Truncate: Use ! for any number of characters at the end of a word/stem, e.g, child! finds children, child, child’s, childhood, etc.

Wild Card: Use * for one character within a word, e.g., wom*n retrieves woman or women

Phrases Put in quotation marks " " : "attractive nuisance"  (also true in Basic Search)

Special commands to use between search terms:

&: Both search terms MUST be in the same document, e.g., narcotic & warrant
<space>: at least one search term MUST appear, e.g. car automobile
/p:  search terms are in the same paragraph, e.g., hearsay /p utterance
/s:  search terms are in the same sentence, e.g., design*** /s defect!
+p:  The first term preceding the second within the same paragraph: miranda +p legislat!
+s:  The first term preceding the second within the same sentence: palsgraf +s island
/n  finds search terms within n words of each other (where n is a number): person** /3 jurisdiction
+n:  The first search term preceding the second by n words (n is a number): 20 +5 1080

KeyCite Status Flags

KeyCite Quotation Marks indicate that the citing case, administrative decision, or brief directly quotes the cited case.

Depth of Treatment Bars - The legal issues involved are identified by the headnote numbers from the case being keycited.

Viewing the History of a Case - Click the "History" tab

  • Direct History traces your case through the appellate process, includikng both prior and subsequent history.
  • Negative Citing References lists cases outside the direct appellate line that may have a negative impact on the precedential value of your case.
  • Related References lists cases that involve the same parties and facts as your case, whether or not the legal issues are the same.