A Guide to Fee-Based U. S. Legal Research Databases
by Mary Rumsey
Mary Rumsey is the Foreign, Comparative & International Law Librarian at the University of Minnesota. She has a B.A. degree from the University of Wisconsin, a J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School, and a master's degree in library and information science from Dominican University.
Published August 2005
Table of Contents
This guide is designed primarily for non-U.S. legal researchers. It describes several providers of legal research databases, focusing on fee-based sources. For an excellent guide to free sources of federal legal materials, see the GlobaLex guide by Gretchen Feltes, A Guide to the U. S. Federal Legal System: Web-based Public Accessible Sources, April 2005.
CAUTION: Because database providers frequently change their coverage and functionality, researchers should make sure that a provider still offers the desired sources before signing a contract or otherwise incurring any fees.
Much of the information available on commercial legal databases is also available from free internet sources. However, commercial database providers (LexisNexis and Westlaw in particular), offer a large amount information that is not available for free. This includes legal forms, older state and federal cases, certain state and federal administrative materials, and secondary sources such as online versions of treatises, journal articles, and legal newspapers. Also, commercial databases often contain a great deal of valuable added information. For example, LexisNexis and Westlaw have databases that contain the U.S. Code (federal laws). The U.S. Code is also available online, for free. But unlike the free internet version of the U.S. Code, the LexisNexis and Westlaw “annotated codes” include additional information such as citations to relevant cases, legal encyclopedias, law journal articles, federal regulations, and more.
In addition to more information, commercial databases are often easier to use than free ones. First, they offer much more sophisticated search engines. For example, Westlaw and LexisNexis support these useful tools:
- Boolean connectors
- date restrictions
- field or segment restrictions that allow searching in narrow sections of a document (e.g., author or judge, case title, statute caption, etc.)
- grammatical connectors (e.g., taxation /s “foreign investment” retrieves documents in which the words taxation and foreign investment appear in the same sentence)
- “natural language” searching (e.g., what is the statute of limitations for tax evasion retrieves documents in order of relevance to that search)
- “wildcard” searching (e.g., tax! retrieves documents containing the words tax, taxation, taxable, or taxing)
Providers such as Loislaw and Versuslaw also offer better searching capabilities than most free websites.
Secondly, commercial databases often contain enhancements such as hyperlinks to related materials. For example, in the text of a court case, many vendors add hyperlinks to any cases cited within the case. A researcher can use these links to look quickly at any case the court mentions in its decision. Commercial providers of U.S. court cases also provide built-in ways for a researcher to check the current validity of a case. In a common law system, checking the validity of a case is an important step in legal research. The researcher must find out whether the case is still “good law,” or whether a later court decision has changed the law. If a case is not too old, it is possible to check a case’s validity using free databases of court cases. The researcher enters the case name as a search term, and reviews any cases that contain the name. This process is cumbersome and vulnerable to errors, however, so most U.S. researchers prefer to use online “citators.” Westlaw’s online citator is called KeyCite; LexisNexis offers Shepard’s, Loislaw offers GlobalCite, and VersusLaw offers V.Cite.
Also, commercial databases are sometimes more current than free databases. This difference is most apparent in databases of statutes and regulations. Commercial database providers usually incorporate new statutory language, or at least provide links to it from the old statute section, much faster than government websites. Researchers who rely on free websites must be particularly careful to check for new laws and regulations, which are often located on a different webpage from the older ones.
In addition, commercial databases usually offer better technical support than do free databases. Some legal database providers, such as Westlaw and LexisNexis, have 24-hour telephone support. Subscribers can get free help choosing a database, constructing a search, and overcoming technical problems.
Finally, while government information on the internet is usually reliable, internet information from other sources may not be. Unlike most websites, many commercial databases consist of material that has been published in print, and thus has gone through the screening imposed by editors and publishers. This makes commercial databases more reliable than some free internet information.
Of course, all these advantages come at a price. Commercial legal databases can be very expensive. Free sources may work better for researchers who have more time than money to spend.
Among commercial providers, Westlaw and LexisNexis are the largest, most sophisticated (in searching and other features), and most expensive. Loislaw provides a less expensive but less sophisticated and comprehensive product. VersusLaw generally offers a less expensive, but again, less sophisticated and comprehensive product, than does Loislaw. BNA, CCH and RIA provide expensive, sophisticated, and specialized products for practitioners in areas such as labor, environmental law, securities, and taxation.
LexisNexis, owned by Reed Elsevier, is one of the two largest providers of United States legal information.
The legal information division of LexisNexis is often referred to as “Lexis.” Outside the US, LexisNexis provides non-U.S. legal information at country-specific websites; e.g., http://www.lexisnexis.fr; http://www.lexisnexis.de; http://www.lexisnexis.at; http://www.lexisnexis.co.uk.
What LexisNexis offers
Like Westlaw (below), LexisNexis offers a full range of U.S. legal information, including materials from all 50 states. In the U.S., primary authority consists of the constitution, statutes, administrative regulations, and cases. LexisNexis gives the researcher access to all of these sources. In addition, LexisNexis has large databases of secondary sources—commentary on the law in legal treatises, law journal articles, and legal encyclopedias. While commentary is not a source of law in the U.S. legal system, it is often an efficient way to research. Secondary sources usually explain the law more clearly than statutes and cases, while including references to the applicable primary sources.
LexisNexis offers thousands of separate databases. Some databases combine the contents of several databases. For example, researchers can choose a database of New York court decisions. But they can also search all state court cases at once. Usually, it is cheapest and most efficient to search the smallest database that contains all the information needed.
For its databases of cases, LexisNexis generally offers complete coverage back to the earliest case. Its statutes databases offer current, frequently-updated laws. Because researchers sometimes need earlier versions of statutes, LexisNexis also has “archived” versions of statute databases, most of which extend back to 1991.
LexisNexis offers a free, searchable list of its databases.
How its databases are organized
LexisNexis organizes its databases in a hierarchical structure. Major headings include:
· jurisdictions (e.g., federal, California, Canada);
· types of documents (e.g., cases, legislation, secondary legal materials); and
· legal subjects (e.g., taxation, bankruptcy, labor & employment).
For a typical U.S. state, LexisNexis divides its databases offerings under several major headings. As an example, California databases are divided into Cases, Statutes & Regulations, Agency & Administrative Materials, Restatements[i] & Jurisprudences,[ii] General News, Legal News, Public Records,[iii] Filings,[iv] Legal Reference Materials,[v] Jury Instructions[vi] and Verdicts.[vii]
Within a category, such as Cases, the researcher can choose from several databases. For California, for example, LexisNexis offers a database of cases from the California Supreme Court, a database of cases from the California Courts of Appeals, a database that combines these two, and a database that combines them with federal cases relating to California. (These federal cases are those from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and lower federal courts within that circuit.)
LexisNexis offers a bewildering variety of subscription plans. Some plans are based on hourly usage and database cost. Others are based on the number of searches conducted (“transactional” pricing), and others are based on a discounted rate for specified databases. The cost of databases differs considerably, depending on factors such as the size of the database and whether the underlying data comes from another vendor. Additional charges for printing, downloading, or emailing documents may apply.
LexisNexis offers an option for researchers to pay by credit card for individual transactions: http://web.lexis.com/xchange/ccsubs/cc_prods.asp. For some materials, it offers daily or weekly subscriptions; however, this does not include US legal materials.
LexisNexis does not offer free trials.
LexisNexis recommends a modem speed: 56K* or above (ISDN, ADSL or cable modem). As a browser, the company recommends Microsoft® Internet Explorer 5.x and 6.x , or Netscape® 6.x and 7.x.
LexisNexis offers toll-free technical help for non-U.S. customers, regardless of location.
Westlaw is owned by the Thomson Corporation. It is one of the two largest providers of United States legal information.
What Westlaw offers
Like LexisNexis (above), Westlaw offers a full range of U.S. legal information, including materials from all 50 states. In the U.S., primary authority consists of the Constitution, statutes, administrative regulations, and cases. Westlaw gives the researcher access to all of these sources. In addition, Westlaw has large databases of secondary sources—commentary on the law in legal treatises, law journal articles, and legal encyclopedias. While commentary is not a source of law in the U.S. legal system, it is often an efficient way to research. Secondary sources usually explain the law more clearly than statutes and cases, while including references to the applicable primary sources.
Westlaw offers thousands of separate databases. Some databases combine the contents of several databases. For example, researchers can choose a database of New York court decisions. But they can also search all cases from all 50 states at once. Usually, it is best to search the smallest database that contains all the information you need.
For its databases of cases, Westlaw generally offers complete coverage back to the earliest case. Its statute databases offer current, frequently-updated laws. Because researchers sometimes need earlier versions of statutes, Westlaw also has “archived” versions of statute databases, most of which extend back to the late 1980s or early 1990s.
Westlaw has database information here, although it is not in an easily-used format.
CAUTION: Westlaw makes only selected databases available under its standard international subscriptions. One primary part of its international subscription is a searchable database of West “headnotes” for U.S. federal and state case law. These “headnotes” are Westlaw’s proprietary summaries of various points of law discussed in a case. So, for example, one case might have several different headnotes. Westlaw provides the full text of cases and of statutes in a handful of topical areas: banking, bankruptcy (insolvency), commercial law, intellectual property, securities, and insurance. The collection also includes law reviews, practice texts, and treatises in those topical areas. The databases are described here. Researchers can subscribe to one or more topic areas.
How its databases are organized
Westlaw organizes its databases in a hierarchical structure. Major headings include:
· jurisdictions (e.g., federal, California, Canada);
· legal subjects (e.g., taxation, bankruptcy, labor/employment).
For a typical U.S. state, Westlaw divides its database offerings under nearly twenty headings. As an example, California databases are divided into Cases; Statutes & Legislative Materials; Court Rules & Orders; WestDockets;[x] Administrative & Executive Materials; Law Reviews, Bar Journals & Legal Periodicals; Public Information, Records & Filings; Forms, Treatises, CLEs and Other Practice Material; Jury Instructions, Jury Verdicts & Judgments; News, Newspapers & Periodicals; some topical databases (for example, insurance materials); and a few other categories.
Within a category, such as Cases, the researcher can choose from several databases. For California, for example, Westlaw offers a database of cases from the California Supreme Court, a database of cases from the California Courts of Appeals, a database that combines these two, and a database that combines them with federal cases relating to California. (These federal cases are those from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and lower federal courts within that circuit.)
While the categories and database names on Westlaw differ from those on LexisNexis, both providers offer largely similar coverage of primary sources. The two providers vary more in the secondary sources they offer. For example, they often have different treatises on similar topics.
International subscribers can choose from a relatively small number of databases, via Westlaw International.
Access to Westlaw databases outside a subscriber’s Westlaw International subscription is available on a transactional charge basis. In other words, the researcher is charged for each search or other transaction.
Westlaw offers a bewildering variety of subscription plans. Some plans are based on hourly usage and database cost, while others are based on a discounted rate for specified databases. Smaller law offices often pay a flat monthly rate for a few specified databases. The cost of databases differs considerably, depending on factors such as the size of the database and whether the underlying data comes from another vendor. Additional charges for printing, downloading, or emailing documents may apply.
Westlaw offers an option for researchers to pay by credit card for individual transactions. Only US-based organizations can subscribe directly to the US version of Westlaw. In other words, a foreign law office can subscribe to the US version of Westlaw through its U.S. office, if it has one. If not, it must work through Westlaw International.
Westlaw recommends Windows XP, 2000, 98, or 95; Windows NT; or Mac OS 8.5 or later. Windows XP requires Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 or Netscape 6.1 or later.
Windows 2000, 98, 95, or Windows NT: Requires Internet Explorer 4.01 or later or Netscape 4.06 or later (Netscape 6.0 is not supported). Mac OS: Requires Internet Explorer 4.5 or later or Netscape 4.5 or later, or Safari 1.1 or later. Computers using Westlaw must have at least 32MB RAM.
For international accounts, Westlaw customer support telephone numbers are available here.
Fastcase is an independent company located in Washington D.C. Its target market is U.S. law firms.
What Fastcase offers
Fastcase offers federal and state court opinions. It has complete U.S. Supreme Court Reports; federal bankruptcy cases; federal courts of appeals decisions from 1924 or the inception of the court, whichever is more recent; and federal district court cases from the beginning of West’s Federal Supplement series. Coverage of state appellate cases starts in 1950 or earlier for all U.S. states.
To check whether a case is “good law,” and to find later cases, FastCase offers an “authority check” feature. This feature displays a list of citing cases, as well as the text in which the citation occurs.
For its databases of court cases, Fastcase offers sophisticated search capabilities. It supports Boolean connectors, including proximity connectors. It also supports natural language searching, phrase searching, date restrictions, and truncation (“stemming”). It does not offer the grammatical connectors that Westlaw and Lexis do. Fastcase gives the user several options for displaying the list of cases retrieved, including relevance ranking and reverse chronological order.
Fastcase also makes federal and state statutes and regulations available through its service. But it does not maintain its own databases of these materials. Instead, it uses framing. Thus, the search options for statutes and regulations are only those provided by the state or federal source.
How its databases are organized
Fastcase’s database organization is fairly straightforward. Its search screen allows users to choose from several options (All Jurisdictions, S.Ct. , All Federal Appellate, etc.). If the user wishes to specify other jurisdictions, such as one or two particular states, the user chooses “Select Jurisdictions” to display a list of four options (e.g., U.S. District Courts, Bankruptcy Courts). The user then chooses one of those options to select within the category. Choosing “State Supreme and Appeals Courts,” for example, gives the user a list of states.
Fastcase’s pricing model is a flat rate for either of two packages: federal and state appellate cases along with federal district court cases (including bankruptcy cases), or just federal and state appellate cases. With either plan, FastCase offers the framed versions of state and federal statutes and regulations. Fastcase, unlike most vendors, gives potential subscribers clear information about its subscription costs. Details are here.
Fastcase does not have separate charges for printing, copying, or downloading documents. Subscription is by the month or by the year. A 24-hour free trial is available here.
Fastcase recommends running Internet Explorer, though it is also compliant with Netscape 7.0 or higher.
Help is available via email and live “chat.” Fastcase also provides toll telephone support for U.S. customers, but does not currently offer toll-free telephone support for domestic or foreign customers.
Loislaw is owned by Wolters Kluwer. Its primary target market is U.S. law firms with 50 or fewer attorneys.
What Loislaw offers
Loislaw offers state court opinions and statutes for all 50 U.S. States. It has complete U.S. Supreme Court Reports, and federal courts of appeals decisions from 1924 or the inception of the court, whichever is more recent. Most subscriptions include federal district court opinions from 1999 to present; access to selected federal district court opinions back to 1921 is available at an additional cost.
Loislaw’s treatises and formbooks represent an excellent collection of specialized practice materials on a wide variety of topics, including securities, antitrust (competition law), business organizations, bankruptcy, real estate, and many others.
Unlike the U.S. Code versions on LexisNexis and Westlaw, Loislaw’s U.S. Code does not directly incorporate references to related cases, regulations, or secondary sources such as law reviews or legal encyclopedias. By clicking on the GlobalCite button at the bottom of each code section, however, researchers can retrieve all other documents on Loislaw that reference the section. The same GlobalCite function can be used on cases, regulations, and state statutes.
Like the U.S. Code versions on Westlaw, LexisNexis, and VersusLaw, the Loislaw version is very up-to-date.
How its databases are organized
Loislaw arranges its databases by “Primary Law” (cases, statutes, court rules, and regulations); “Secondary Law” (treatises and formbooks); Public Records; and Legal News and Business Information. Under the “Primary Law” heading, a subscriber can also choose a database by “Jurisdiction” (federal or state). Its limited number of databases, at least relative to Westlaw and LexisNexis, make finding the right database simple.
Loislaw’s pricing model is to sell unlimited access to a database or package of databases. The subscriber pays a flat rate for each password. A password may be shared by any number of users, but can be used by only one person at a time. Loislaw does not have separate charges for printing, copying, or downloading documents. Subscription is by the month or by the year.
A free trial is available, although its scope is somewhat limited.
For dial-up connections, the computer needs a telephone modem with a recommended minimum speed 56 KB.
Loislaw provides 24-hour toll-free telephone support for U.S. customers, but does not currently offer toll-free telephone support for non-U.S. customers. Help is available via email.
Like Loislaw, VersusLaw offers low-cost competition to Westlaw and LexisNexis. VersusLaw offers core U.S. legal materials at much lower monthly and annual subscription prices than do LexisNexis and Westlaw. VersusLaw’s target market is small firms, solo practitioners, and non-lawyers who want access to U.S. legal information beyond the available free information.
What VersusLaw offers:
VersusLaw offers three types of subscriptions. The
lowest-priced subscription (“Standard Plan”) provides access to U.S. federal
and state cases only. U.S. Supreme Court coverage extends back to 1886. Its
coverage of federal circuit court cases extends back to 1930 or to the creation
of the court, whichever is later. For federal district cases, VersusLaw offers
opinions back to 1950 (as of September 15, 2005).
Coverage of state appellate cases varies, but for most states begins in the 1930s or 1950s. In summary, VersusLaw’s coverage of federal and state cases is much more extensive than what is available on free internet sites, but is not as extensive as LexisNexis and Westlaw’s coverage. For most legal work, researchers do not need access to the oldest cases. Unfortunately, however, it is not usually possible to know in advance, or for a particular legal question, whether older cases are needed.
VersusLaw’s second level subscription (“Premium Plan”) provides access to materials covered by the Standard Plan, but also to current statutes from most U.S. states. (Pennsylania is the most important omission.) This level includes access to administrative regulations (often called “administrative codes”) from about thirty U.S. states.
The highest-priced level (“Professional Plan”) provides access to all the materials in the lower levels, and to federal statutes (U.S. Code) and administrative regulations for the federal government (the “Code of Federal Regulations,” or C.F.R.). In addition, it provides access to certain federal administrative materials in its “Specialty Practice Collections.” These include opinions from the U.S. Tax Court, Board of Immigration Appeals, Court of Federal Claims, Court of International Trade, IRS Rulings, NTSB Aviation Accident Synopsis, U.S. Office of Government Ethics, U.S. Social Security Rulings, Federal Mine Safety & Health Review Commission, and the Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission.
Unlike the U.S. Code versions on LexisNexis and Westlaw, VersusLaw’s U.S. Code does not have references to related cases, regulations, or secondary sources such as law reviews or legal encyclopedias. However, it is very up-to-date, unlike free sources of the U.S. Code.
How its databases are organized:
Because VersusLaw has relatively few databases, it is easy to identify the relevant databases. The library selections appear on the left side of the screen after the researcher signs in. Some are categories (e.g., State Appellate Courts). When the researcher chooses a category, VersusLaw displays the jurisdictions within the category.
Among the vendors, VersusLaw offers the most straightforward pricing options. Its pricing information is found here.
Researchers can subscribe by the month or year. Shorter, 24-hour access is also available, but only to VersusLaw’s cases (Standard Plan). A subscription provides unlimited searching and printing.
VersusLaw’s site is best viewed using MS Internet Explorer 6.0 or Netscape 7.0. The service has many dial-up subscribers; broadband access is not necessary.
For overseas customers, email help is available. Telephone help is available 9 hours each day, but is not toll-free for overseas customers.
HeinOnline is owned by William S. Hein & Co., Inc. (“Hein”). Hein’s primary market for HeinOnline is U.S. law school libraries and large law firms. In September, Hein reported that HeinOnline has subscribers in 75 countries.
What HeinOnline offers
HeinOnline offers a variety of materials. For the most part, it does not have core legal research resources (statutes and cases) like those offered by the other vendors in this guide. HeinOnline’s main components are U.S. Supreme Court opinions from the beginning of the Court; a large collection of US law journals, with coverage back to the earliest volume; a “Treaties and Agreements” library including the Treaties and International Acts Series, and U.S. Treaties and Other International Acts; and the Federal Register. Further descriptions of its collection are available here.
HeinOnline has been successful in part because it provides high-quality image-based .pdf replicas of original documents. Also, most of its Federal Register and law journals collection is not available electronically from other vendors. Although HeinOnline is popular in academic law libraries, researchers use it primarily to retrieve known documents. Its full-text search capabilities are much less powerful than those of Westlaw, Lexis, or other commercial database providers. Users can search by phrase, and can use the Boolean “and” connector (by selecting the “all words” option). HeinOnline offers a very limited Boolean “or” connector option (by selecting “any words”), which cannot be combined with other terms. But users cannot create proximity searches, grammatical connector searches, or natural language searches. They can, however, restrict searches by date.
How its databases are organized
HeinOnline is divided into various “Collections” (sometimes referred to as “Libraries”). These include the Law Journal Library (which is further divided into Most-Cited Law Journals, Core U.S./Most Cited Law Journals, American Bar Association Journals, International & Non-U.S. Law Journals, and Criminal Justice Journals); European Center for Minority Issues; Federal Register Library; Legal Classics; Treaties and Agreements Library; U.S. Attorney General Opinions; and the U.S. Supreme Court Library. The precise collections that a user sees depend on the institution’s subscription.
Its limited number of databases makes finding the right database simple.
Hein’s pricing model is to sell unlimited access to a “Collection” or package of Collections (“library modules”). Hein offers differing subscription prices based on the size and nature of the subscribing institution and whether the institution subscribes to the entire collection or to one or more of its library modules. License agreements also vary depending on the type of institution. Subscriptions are annual.
Trial access to a sample of the HeinOnline collection is available here.
HeinOnline recommends that users have a dedicated internet connection. For .pdf printing, HeinOnline recommends Adobe Acrobat Reader, version 5.0 or later. More system requirements and recommendations are listed here.
HeinOnline provides technical support by email. A toll-free technical assistance number is available for U.S. customers.
Note: requires software download
· Trial period subscription is fully refundable:
A. BNA (Bureau of National Affairs) (see also http://www.bnai.com)
BNA is an independent, employee-owned, information provider. Its market includes law firms, law schools, businesses, and governments. Non-US customers should contact http://www.bnai.com.
What BNA offers
BNA offers standalone online research databases in several subject areas. They include taxation, environmental law, employee benefits, labor law, antitrust (competition), banking, bankruptcy, intellectual property, media law, and other fields.
BNA’s products usually combine primary law materials (laws, cases, regulations) with editorial analysis.
How its databases are organized
Most BNA databases are based on its loose-leaf publications. The arrangement of its databases depends on the type of publication. Generally, databases combine a subject arrangement with frequently-released updates. For smaller products, such as the Criminal Law Reporter, the default search is across the entire contents of the database. For larger, more complex products, such as the Labor and Employment Law Library, the researcher selects from a variety of database divisions before searching.
Using BNA’s larger products usually requires training.
Prices for one designated user are available here.
Subscription options vary, but are flat-rate. Customers can buy a single-user password, a single password for an entire organization, or access via IP address recognition. Subscriptions can be made on a one-year or two-year basis. Free trials are available.
Users need a browser that supports frames, such as Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.0® or higher; Netscape Navigator 4.0® or higher; or Netscape Communicator 4.0® or higher.
CCH is owned by Wolters Kluwer. Its primary focus is tax research, though it has products in other subject areas. Its customers include large tax and accounting firms, large law firms, smaller law firms with tax practices, and law schools.
What CCH offers
CCH’s comprehensive tax service is its Tax Research NetWork™. This service includes several databases that are also available separately. Subjects include federal, state, and international tax; financial and estate planning; accounting and audit; and pension and payroll.
How its databases are organized
CCH uses a combination of tabs and lists with checkboxes to organize its database offerings. Organization depends on the databases to which the researcher subscribes.
All internet products are offered on an annual subscription basis only. Pricing varies depending upon the number of passwords purchased and the number of those users allowed to access the service at the same time.
CCH specifies Microsoft Windows 95/98/ME/NT/2000/XP. It recommends a 56 Kb or higher speed internet connection, and Internet Explorer version 5.5 or later, or Netscape version 6.2 or later.
C. RIA (Research Institute of America)
RIA is owned by the Thomson Corporation. Its focus is tax research, and its customers include large tax and accounting firms, large law firms, smaller law firms with tax practices, and law schools.
What RIA offers
Its primary product is RIA Checkpoint. This online service offers access to complete tax libraries in the following areas: federal tax, state and local tax, international tax, estate planning, financial reporting/management, pension and benefits, and payroll tax.
Checkpoint combines primary and secondary sources so that a researcher can examine a primary source, such as a section of the U.S. tax code, and jump quickly to commentary on the source. Importantly, its service includes access to all the various administrative documents that tax researchers need, such as Revenue Rulings from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. This kind of administrative material is available on LexisNexis and Westlaw, but not on Loislaw or VersusLaw. Checkpoint also includes access to treatises.
How its databases are organized
Checkpoint’s databases are broken into several divisions. The federal tax product, for example, is divided into Editorial Materials, News/Current Awareness, Primary Source Materials, Legislation (Editorial Analysis and Source Material), and archival material. The researcher can, however, search all sources at once. Generally, researchers will need training on how to choose the best database for efficient searching.
RIA forces potential customers to contact a sales representative to get even a general idea of pricing. Subscription prices vary depending on the individual databases chosen.
Free trials are available here.
The minimum requirements for running Checkpoint are Windows 98 or Windows NT 4.x ; Netscape Navigator 6.0 or higher, or Microsoft Internet Explorer, 5.0 or higher. Dial-up access is feasible.
Checkpoint provides telephone support 10 hours a day for US customers, but does not offer toll-free support for overseas customers. Email support is available.
[i] “Restatements” are scholarly statements of the common law, set out as a series of rules. Example, Restatement (Second) of Contracts.
[ii] In this context, “Jurisprudence” refers to a legal encyclopedia.
[iii] “Public Records” include a wide variety of documents filed by companies or individuals with the state, or filed by the state regarding companies or individuals. Examples include records of incorporation, records of property ownership, and records of professional licensing.
[iv] “Filings” can sometimes overlap with “Public Records.” It includes court docket information (i.e., records of lawsuits filed in court).
[v] This category includes directories of attorneys, legal dictionaries, and dictionaries of legal citation.
[vi] “Jury Instructions” are a set of explanations and instructions that a judge reads to jurors before they begin their deliberations. Their content varies depending on the jurisdiction.
[vii] “Verdicts” databases provide information on the monetary amount awarded in previous jury trials. Attorneys use them as one way to evaluate the possible recovery or liability for a client.
[viii] A “CLE” is a Continuing Legal Education publication. These publications are prepared as part of educational programs for attorneys. (Most states require attorneys to attend a certain number of Continuing Legal Education program-hours.)
[ix] “Practice Guides” are written for practicing attorneys, and may include legal forms, tips, and checklists in addition to explanations of relevant law, with citations to primary legal sources such as cases and statutes.
[x] “WestDockets” is Westlaw’s name for its databases of court case records.