Interactive Legal Research & Writing Lessons: Common Law Research - Finding Cases (Kline)

West Academic Publishing
Primary Subject
Legal Research
Interactive Videos
Modular LRW
Online access will expire 365 days from the date of purchase.


This two-lesson module will cover how to research cases in print and using online search engines. You will be introduced to the print Reporter and Digest systems which help you find cases in the library. You will also learn useful searching techniques to research more efficiently for cases online.

Lesson One will introduce the Reporter system and illustrate how state and federal case law is organized in the books. You will learn how to locate cases in the Reporters, and review the Digest system, which is the finding tool for researching cases in the Reporters. You will learn the Westlaw Topic and Key Number System, which will allow you to research cases by topic in the Reporters. Finally, you will walk through the steps for researching cases in the books, and get to practice your new understanding with a short research exercise.

Lesson Two will introduce two different methods for researching cases using online search engines: vertical and horizontal searching. Using the horizontal search method, you will learn about natural language and terms and connectors searching. Next, using the vertical search method (or the “one good case method”), you will learn about key number searching and headnote searching. You will understand how the online key number system corresponds to the print Reporter and Digest system, and you will get to practice your new skills with a short contracts exercise.

These two lessons will help you become a more effective and efficient researcher. Lawyers today must understand how to perform basic book research as well as how to search for caselaw online. The interplay between how cases are organized in print and how we research them online is integral to understanding how to locate and research case law. This module will start you on your path to developing lawyering skills essential to your career as a lawyer.