General Search Strategies
Types of Searches
There are three different types of searches in WestLaw:
Tricks to Know
When just getting started, if you don't know exactly what you are looking for (i.e., a specific case), it's easiest to start with a very simple and broad, natural language search. Use as few key terms as possible. Then, use search within and the database filters to explore further.
Special [Boolean] Operators
You may have learned how to use simple Boolean operators -- such as AND, OR, NOT and/or the * -- in other research databases. WestLaw uses its own set of operators, called connectors and expanders: You can also find these operators in the Advanced Search menu of WestLaw.
*An important difference to note: While in most of our databases, "AND" is the default key term, in WestLaw the default is OR. So, while in CrossSearch a search for contract law would search for contract AND law, in WestLaw this will produce contract OR law,
in the same sentence as...
within the same sentence and before...
in the same paragraph as....
[search for a specific phrase, ex. "Supreme Court"]
within the same paragraph and before...
within n words of
expander -- ex. leg! = legal, legislative, etc.
within n words before...
universal character - wildcard
prefix which turns off automatic searching for plurals, etc.
breach! /3 contract /s third-party
searches for any term beginning with "breach" (breach, breaches, breached, etc.), within 3 words of the term "contract," within the same sentence as "third-party."