Module 3 : Secondary Sources : Forum Discussions : Google Scholar & HeinOnline

The  Google Scholar and Hein Online discussion forum questions were designed to allow you the opportunity to explore both sources using the same client scenario.  The process you used is similar to or the same process that you will use in your Research Guide.  The questions also allowed you to discuss with your colleagues the search process for both resources.

After using both Google Scholar and Hein Online, you may want to consider using one, both or neither in your Research Guide.

If you would like to discuss your approach to searching Google Scholar and Hein Online with me, please let me know.



Module 3 : Assessment Tool

KeyCite and Shepard’s  Yes, you can KeyCite and Shepardize law review/journal articles.  You can KeyCite and Shepardize many more resources than just cases.  Always look for the KeyCite bar and Shepard’s and Shepardize this Document.

Law Reviews are useful for researching emerging areas of Law.  Treatises, legal encyclopedias, and American Law Reports’ annotations are not known for being useful resources for researching emerging areas of law.

Treatises provide in-depth treatment of an area of law.  Legal encyclopedias, Restatements, and American Law Reports’ annotations are not known for providing an in-depth treatment of an area of law.

American Law Reports’ annotations organize cases by holdings and jurisdiction on narrow legal topics.


Module 3 : Secondary Sources : CALI Lessons : American Law Reports : Subject Specific Treatises : Internet Legal Resources – Free Sources

CALI American Law Reports
CALI Subject Specific Treatises 
CALI Internet Legal Resources – Free Sources

1)  American Law Reports (ALR)

At the beginning, West Publishing had decided that they would publish every case decision that they could get their hands on.  So that was their business model – the National Reporter System.  Lawyers Cooperative Publishing came along and they realized that they could not compete with West’s business model so they decided to publish an important case and to accompany it with an annotation that described on all other decisions on the same matter.  So the case is just a starting point for Lawyers Cooperative Publishing.  The important resource is the annotation itself.  You should cite the “important case” using the West citation – the National Reporter System citation. 

Also, the American Law Reports is not a good place to look up similar statutes in various jurisdictions.  Many times law review articles discuss or list all similar statutes that pertain to the law review article and here is a link to a Research Guide by George Washington Law Library which provides link to a number of sources that contain various 50 State Surveys

You can,  however, find cases arranged by jurisdiction in an ALR annotation.  

2)  Subject Specific Treatises.   

One place to start looking for subject specific treatises is in the UM Law Library Research Guide titled – Subject Guide to Treatises and Looseleaf Services 

Here is the link –

3)  Internet Legal Resources – Free Resources

Which types of information would you expect to be able to find on the internet?

a)  The opinion of a federal district court case that was decided last week.  Usually yes.    You should first look at the website for the appropriate district court.  For example, the Southern District of Florida’s website links to the Southern District of Florida’s cases on  See link.  I am writing this post on July 1 and there is an Order signed on June 29th. Take a look at the information for the Southern District of Florida.   If all federal district courts

b)  Headnotes summarizing the points of law in a case.  At this point, no. Designing a headnote scheme and producing headnotes is expensive so you will probably not find such a scheme and headnotes on the web. 

c)  A journal article from 1979.   Maybe.   With the advent of  the University and Law School Institutional / Scholarly Repositories it is more likely than it once was to find a 1979 law review article.  Many law schools have included in their repositories complete runs of their law review.  For example, in UM Law’s repository there is a full run of all of our law reviews.

d)  The Texas Constitution from the year that it joined the United States (1866).  Yes.  Libraries, state historical societies, and archives around the country are providing access to historical documents.  For example, for Texas, the University of Texas, Tarlton Law Library has the Texas Constitutions 1824-1876.   

e)  Briefs filed in a recent, high profiled case.  Maybe.  If the case is a United States Supreme Court case, check first at SCOTUSBlog and the  United State Supreme Court’s website.  If the case is a circuit court case, check at the court’s website and also with academic law libraries in the circuit.  If an organization is involved, you may find the briefs posted on their website.  For example,  if the ACLU is involved, you may find the briefs at their website.

f)  Cost-Effective Alternative Databases   You may find that as a member of  a state bar, you may have access to that state’s materials in either Fastcase or Casemaker or both as a membership benefit.  If you do have access, definitely learn to use these cost-effective alternatives.  Many times you can begin your research there and then move to other platforms including, Westlaw Edge and Lexis Advance, if necessary. 

I have not looked at Casemaker recently but Fastcase does have a type of “citator.”  According to their website, Fastcase has a unique feature, Bad Law Bot, which provides an innovative way to quickly determine when courts have commented negatively on a case.  Although it is not a traditional “editorial citator,” Bad Law Bot takes citation analysis to the next level by extracting the enormous wealth of negative information contained in citations.  Bad Law Bot uses algorithms to find the negative citation history of a case.  Bad Law Bot will place a red flag next to cases when it recognizes negative treatment of a case.  In successive iterations over time, Bad Law Bot has shown to be as good, and better, than traditional editorial citators – with more improvements made every day through machine learning. (authority check)

The Florida materials on Fastcase  is a membership benefit  of the Florida Bar.

You have access to Fastcase while in law school through the Subscription Databases.  

g)  Credibility of Websites   You were asked if three websites were either credible, not credible, or maybe credible.

One was which is clearly credible. 

Another was with an image of a green whitehouse and  no .gov in the URL which was clearly not credible.

The third one was  All you saw was the image of the landing page of the website.  From the landing page, the  website was not clearly either credible or not credible.  It was a maybe.  To make a determination, you would have needed to explore the entire website and also to have verified the information on the website.

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Module 2 : Forum Discussion : Miami airport and a Bonus – PACER

I hope that this was an enlightening discussion.

One take away should be that how you formulate that the search really matters.

Another take away should be that even if you find some cases that are in the in the ball park, you need to keep searching – that is to say, to re rework you search query – and see what other cases are out there for you to discover.

You might also consider browsing the Headnotes of one or more of the best cases you found and see if any of the Headnotes deal with your issue.  If so, consider doing a  Topic and Key Number search to find more good cases.

And, of course, you can KeyCite or Shepardize your findings to see if your case(s) has been cited in other cases.

If you would like a quick review, here is a link to a Georgetown Tutorial on Finding Cases: Citations and Topics –

And, a note, about the tutorial.  For demonstration purposes, the natural language search and the terms and connectors and expanders search found the same case.  That is not necessarily going to happen every time!


And, one more item.  I want to mention PACER – Public Access to Court Electronic Records –

“The Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) service provides electronic public access to federal court records. PACER provides the public with instantaneous access to more than 1 billion documents filed at all federal courts.”  From the website.

You can find in PACER federal docket information and the filed documents in most cases.  It is not entirely free.  The website has been recently redesigned.  Here is a link to Bob Amborgi’s post.

For First Time in Decade, PACER Website Gets Major Update