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5 Tips for efficiently using Westlaw for legal research

Ryan Pottebaum
National Client Representative, Thomson Reuters

Few legal professionals have not used Westlaw for online legal research at some point in their careers, but are they doing so efficiently? In an industry driven by deadlines, setting aside hours for legal research is a daunting proposition. Here are 5 ways you can use Westlaw to conduct fast and efficient online legal research.

Use the Global Search Box

It’s called the Global Search Box for a reason; it has practically everything you need right from the top of the Westlaw homepage. You can search Westlaw’s 14 core content sets in one search, enter citations and pull documents directly, and search for any treatise or database, all from one location.

Browse the West Key Number System

West Key Numbers are essentially the Dewey-Decimal system for American Law. Every legal issue in a case published by Westlaw is identified and assigned a topic and Key Number. Save yourself some time and browse through the myriad topics to find a comprehensive list of cases relevant to your issue.

Locate documents with Find & Print

Do you ever find yourself with a list of citations that you need to KeyCite or print? Don’t go through the tedious process of retrieving them one by one. With Find & Print you can enter up to 100 citations at a time, and deliver the full text documents in addition to the KeyCite history in just a couple of clicks.

Save your research to Folders

Since Folders were first introduced on Westlaw, they have come a long way. Folder Analysis will supplement your online legal research by determining legal issues present in your foldered cases and suggesting additional relevant cases based upon those legal issues. All you have to do is save your legal research to a folder.

Plus, check out 5 more ways to conduct legal research efficiently.

Call the Reference Attorneys

First year of law school? New summer associate? Seasoned litigation attorney? Call the Reference Attorneys. A ten minute conversation can save you hours of legal research. They will help you craft searches, locate difficult to find content and work through complex legal issues. Reference Attorneys are a team of licensed attorneys available 24/7/365 and they are no cost if you have a Westlaw subscription. Call the Reference Attorneys.

Watch our new demo video and start efficiently conducting legal research online with Westlaw today.

About the author

Ryan Pottebaum

Ryan Pottebaum is the NCR for Southern California and much of the west coast, in addition to being an NCR team product lead for CA Jury Instruction Selector and Immigration Resources on Westlaw. Ryan graduated from the University of Minnesota and Hamline University School of Law, cum laude. Ryan has two years of experience as a Reference Attorney at Thomson Reuters, and worked in private practice in Minneapolis prior to joining Thomson Reuters in 2013. He lives in Minneapolis and enjoys biking, Jiu Jitsu and travel.