Categories
Self-organization

How to shepardize a case

Blogging Free Legal Research

It’s clear that properly using citators to update research is part of an attorney’s ethical duty to conduct adequate legal research. See, e.g., Idaho State Bar v. Tway , 919 P.2d 323 (Idaho 1996) (failure to properly Shepardize caused counsel to miss statute of limitations resulting in suspension of license); see also Carol M. Bast & Susan W. Harrell, Ethical Obligations: Performing Adequate Legal Research and Writing, 29 Nova L. Rev. 49 (Fall 2004).

Given the importance of properly using citators such as Shepard’s and KeyCite, it comes as no surprise that attorneys are still reticent to use free legal research tools such as Google Scholar to update research.

Exactly how good is Google Scholar at updating research? Is it a plausible alternative to Shepard’s and Keycite?

These questions are part of a larger research project that I’m currently working on. Ultimately, these are questions only the individual attorney can answer after studying the various research tools. However, if my preliminary research is any indication, it seems that Google Scholar is every bit as accurate as commercial citators for updating case law. (For a discussion of this function of Google Scholar, see this previous post.)

Google recently announced that it is now listing cases based upon the extent to which the cited case is discussed, which– as the Law Librarian Blog points out– brings Scholar even closer to KeyCite/Shepard’s functionality. Here’s the text explaining Google’s change, courtesy of the Law Librarian Blog:

Today [March 8], we are changing how we present citations to legal opinions. Now, instead of sorting the citing documents by their prominence, we sort them by the extent of discussion of the cited case. Opinions that discuss the cited case in detail are presented before ones that mention the case briefly. We indicate the extent of discussion visually and indicate opinions that discuss the cited case at length, that discuss it moderately and those that discuss it briefly. Opinions that don’t discuss the cited case are left unmarked.

Given this change, I decided to conduct a simple test of two cases. I selected two state cases, each with a moderate number of citator results (around 40 results). For each case, I compared the KeyCite and Shepard’s results with the Google Scholar “How Cited” Results.

With respect to both cases, every citator result that affected the validity of the cases (negative citing references) appeared in all citators, including Google Scholar, towards the top of the results. All results that discussed the cited cases appeared in all citators, as well. In connection with these two particular cases, the ordering of results were substantially similar in all citators. Importantly, however, Google Scholar does not index most unreported or unpublished cases. So, if you want an accurate depiction of how many times a case is cited, there is no substitute for West or Lexis. But with respect to precedent that might actually affect a case’s viability, I found no substantive differences between the citators.

Of course, there are differences in the way Google Scholar and Lexis/Westlaw present the results. Google doesn’t provide any treatment signals (e.g., red flags, stars, etc.). Nonetheless, one might argue that this might cause attorneys to study the precedent more carefully, rather than rely on the West/Lexis characterization of precedent. I also found the case excerpts in Google Scholar’s How Cited results much more helpful than the excerpts provided by West and Lexis.

Disclaimer: Please keep in mind that this is is merely anecdotal evidence, not empirical research, and this post should not be considered legal advice.

Need help?

Chat: on Law Portal (Ask a Librarian)

In person: *temporarily unavailable*

Written By

Introduction

Once you find cases that you intend to rely on, it is important to determine whether or not the legal propositions that they stand for are still “good law.” Court opinions can lose their authoritativeness in a number of ways. A higher court can reverse a decision of a lower court in the same case, thereby undermining the precedential value of the lower court’s opinion. Courts also sometimes overrule precedents or question the applicability of those precedents to the cases before them. Additionally, in California, a Court of Appeal opinion cannot be cited if the California Supreme Court orders it “not to be published” or “grants review” in the case (i.e., agrees to hear the case on appeal).

The major tool that is used by legal researchers to check the status of a case is called a case citator. Citators provide a view of the history of cases as they made their way through the courts. They also list subsequent cases and other authorities that have cited the earlier cases. Looking at a case’s citation history can help you discover if there are any cases that have reversed, overruled, criticized, or otherwise negatively treated the cases you are interested in and intend to use. It can also help you find additional cases on the topic(s) in which you are interested.

What is Shepardizing?

Shepardizing refers to checking a citator to see how and when another case has cited the case that you are researching. Shepardizing is important because it helps you check the status of a case or statute to ensure that it is still good law. It also helps to locate other cases, statutes, and legal resources that cite your case on a similar legal issue.

The term “Shepard’s” comes from the original print version of citators, but now it is used to generically refer to the act of checking all citing cases. (Think of Shepard’s as a brand name, like “Kleenex,” that we use to refer to all things in that category even if it is not that brand). You can Shepardize both in print and electronically.

Important Note : LSC-North Harris Library only subscribes to Shepard’s Texas Citations in print. For cases outside of Texas, please use Westlaw’s KeyCite.

Print Resource: Shepard’s Texas Citations

Shepard’s Texas Citations

To Shepardize in print, you will use Shepard’s Texas Citations series. In order to Shepardize a case, you will need the case citation.

For full instructions for Shepardizing in Print, see the Guide available from Lexis: How to Shepardize: Your Guide to Legal Research Using Shepard’s Citations in Print

Important: be sure to check all available supplements to fully Shepardize your case! To make sure that you check everything, look for the paperback supplement with the most recent date and look at the list of books on the cover under “What Your Library Should Contain.” This will list each of the volumes and supplements that you need to be sure to check.

Electronic Access: Westlaw

“Shepardizing” in Westlaw is referred to instead by the term KeyCite since the company Lexis has a copyright on the Shepard’s name. KeyCite in Westlaw accomplishes the same thing as Shepardizing by tracking the citing cases (cases that cite the case that you are researching).

To “shepardize” in Westlaw:

  1. On the Westlaw homepage, search for your case and click on the case report..
  2. There will be tabs across the top. The two tabs that relate to Shepardizing are Negative Treatment and Citing References.
  3. The Negative Treatment tab lists any subsequent cases or laws that treated the case that you are researching in a negative way.
  4. The Citing References tab lists all subsequent cases (and other legal resources) that have cited the case that you are looking at (including those that treated it negatively).

For further instructions in using Westlaw’s KeyCite, see the Westlaw Guide: Checking Citations in KeyCite.

At the Library

Although this guide focuses on free online sources for legal research, it is important to remember that a lot of research can be done for free by taking a trip to your nearest public law library. You can also contact the law librarians for assistance or to make sure that the library has what you need.

A Message for Law Students

At some point in your legal career, you will need to do legal research without using Westlaw, Lexis, or Bloomberg. You or your employer may not be able to afford those services, or you may have clients who will not pay for them. You may only have access to certain content from those services, but need information outside of your subscription. If you learn how to do legal research for free now, your future employers will thank you.

Benefits of Free Resources

  • Organization — Because free resources are not all located in the same place, you must be more organized about your research from the start. You have to think about what exactly you need and where you can find it.
  • Efficiency — Westlaw and Lexis will often give you an overwhelming number of results when you are searching for something simple. Free resources can sometimes direct you to only the most important or relevant information, or will enable you to more easily see which results are the most relevant.
  • Format — There is a wealth of information contained in formats that are not supported by Westlaw and Lexis. For example, you can find statistical data and audio or video of oral arguments, none of which is available on Westlaw or Lexis.

Keep This in Mind

The location of free online legal resources often varies by what type of resource you are looking for and what jurisdiction you need. You will likely have to search in multiple places to find all of the pertinent information.

Shepardizing cases is difficult without using Lexis or Westlaw. Free case law searches, such as Google Scholar and Ravel, often have ways to at least look at other cases that have cited to the case you are trying to Shepardize, but this will not identify cases that may be overruled by implication or find cases on the same issue that are conflicting but do not cite each other.

The older the information that you need is, the harder it will be to find online. This is particularly true for federal materials prior to around 1995.

Many free online resources are not official sources, and so may contain errors.

Evaluating Online Resources

Sometimes, searching for information online can lead you to some questionable websites. Whenever you are doing research online, make sure to evaluate the information you find. The following criteria can help you determine whether the information is reliable.

  • Accuracy — The truthfulness and correctness of the information. What evidence supports the information? Can the information be verified from another source? Has it been reviewed or refereed?
  • Authority — The source of the information. Who wrote, published, or sponsored the information? What are the author’s qualifications? Who maintains the website (a university, government agency, or commercial organization)?
  • Objectivity — The reason for providing the information. Is the information designed to teach, sell, entertain, or persuade? Is it fact, opinion, or propaganda? Are there political, institutional, or personal biases?
  • Currency — The timeliness of the information. When was the information published or posted? When was the website last updated? Do you need the information to be current, or will older sources be sufficient?
  • Coverage — The scope and relevance of the information. Does the information help your research? How much information about your topic is provided? Who is the intended audience for the information?

If you have any questions, ask a reference librarian!

Shepardizing – General Information

Shepard’s Treatment

Strong negative treatment includes:

  • Overruled by
  • Questioned by
  • Superseded By
  • Revoked
  • Obsolete
  • Rescinded

Possible negative treatment includes:

  • Limited
  • Criticized by
  • Clarified
  • Modified
  • Corrected

Positive treatment includes:

  • Followed
  • Affirmed
  • Approved

Shepardize a Case: LexisNexis

Prior History (and Subsequent History if available) is printed at the beginning of a case in LexisNexis Academic. It may be all the information that you need.

For full Shepard’s information, follow these steps:

Tip: Do not use Mozilla Firefox when searching LexisNexis Academic.

  1. First, find the case you are interested in; go to the full text of case.
  2. Change Next Steps: More like this to Next Steps: Shepardize (located in top, right hand area of screen).
  3. To determine if a case is still “good law”, read the information in the Unrestricted Shepard’s Summary (gray box).
  4. It is still “good law” if it has not been overruled, superseded, etc.
  5. If not overruled, it still might have some negative treatment.
  6. Click any blue link showing Shepard’s editorial treatment (e.g., reversed by, on remand at, vacated by, followed by, distinguished by) to read its definition.

Signal Legend:

Icon Indication
Warning: Negative treatment is indicated
Questioned: Validity is questioned by citing references
Caution: Possible negative treatment
Positive treatment is indicated
Citing references with analysis is available
(For source information, NOT Shepard’s analysis)

Shepardize a Case: Westlaw

You can only “Shepardize” in LexisNexis Academic. Westlaw has created a similar product called “KeyCite.”KeyCite is also available for state and federal cases.

  1. Find a case; go to the full text of case.
  2. Look in the left-hand area of the screen for KeyCite.
  3. Top of screen should have a brief note that states if the case is overruled, superseded, etc.
  4. Click tab for Negative Treatment (to see if still good law).
  5. Click tab for “History” to see: Graphical View(option is GREAT forPowerPoint slide). If tab is “History(0),” there will not be a graphic.
    • KeyCite will not always state “there is no subsequent history.”
    • Note: information is not always as obvious in KeyCiteas it is in Shepard’s

“Shepardize” a Case: Use LexisNexis or Westlaw?

For some complex cases, it may only be clear in one of them.

What do I write in my case brief if the case has no subsequent history?

If you are unsure about this or any other question when briefing a case, please contact your instructor for clarification.

Shepardizing: Why Update a Case?

  • With the doctrine of staredecisis, attorneys use previously decided cases as examples in arguing current cases with similar legal principles or fact patterns.
  • Attorneys can argue in court that the issues or facts in their trial should be decided the same way as similar cases were previously decided.
  • Because of the use of precedence (earlier, preceding cases), attorneys need to make sure that the earlier cases cited are still “good law.”
  • “Good law” means that the cases have not been reversed on appeal, overruled, or criticized by later cases.

Shepardizing: What does this mean?

Examples of treatment seen when Shepardizing appear below. In the explanations, the phrase “the case” indicates the case that you are briefing. Please note that not all terms for negative treatment are listed below.

Confirm with your instructor when you need to cite cases that criticize, modify, etc. your case.

No subsequent appellate history: Please note, even if there is no later appellate history (case was not appealed) for the case, IT MAY NOT BE “GOOD LAW.” Overruled: “Bad law.” The citing case expressly overrules or disapproves all or part of the case. Just like a repealed statute, the case can no longer be used as a controlling law. You will need to give the citation of the case that overruled the case you are briefing. Criticized by: The citing opinion disagrees with the reasoning/result of the case you are Shepardizing, although the citing court may not have the authority to materially affect its precedential value. You will need to give the citation of the case that criticized the case you are briefing. Reversed by: “Bad law.” On appeal, reconsideration, or rehearing, the citing case reverses the case you are Shepardizing. You will need to give the citation of the case that reversed the case you are briefing. Modified: On appeal, reconsideration, or rehearing, the citing case modified or changed in some way, including affirmance in part and reversal in part, the case you are Shepardizing. You will need to give the citation of the case that modified the case you are Shepardizing. Remanded: If an appeals court reverses the judgment of the lower court, it may “remand” (send back) a case to the trial court for further action. Please note that you will probably not see a revised opinion published by the lower court. You can assume that the change was made by the lower court. You will need to give the citation for the case that remanded the case you are Shepardizing. Superseded by statute Made void by a law. Appeal denied: The request to appeal the case was turned down. Writ of Certiori denied

The case was not accepted to be heard by the higher court.

HOW TO SHEPARDIZE A CASE

Shepard’s Citations are located on the main floor of the College Library in the Paralegal Area. In the College’s library, Shepard’s Citators are placed after the set to which it pertains (for example, Shepard’s U.S. Citations Case Edition are found directly after the Supreme Court Reporters).

A. Locating Shepard’s Case Citations

  1. Find the appropriate set of volumes for your citation (i.e., for Supreme Court cases, use Shepard’s U.S. Citations, Case Edition; for Federal Reporter cases, use Shepard’s Federal Citations for Federal Reporter; for Federal Supplement cases, use Shepard’s Federal Citations for Federal Supplement; for Pennsylvania cases, use Shepard’s Pennsylvania Citations, Case & Statute Edition). The set usually consists of bound volumes and paper supplements.
  2. Find the most recent pamphlet of the set. The front cover will indicate what volumes are included in the set under the heading “What Your Library Should Contain.”
  3. Gather all of the volumes (including supplements!) that contain your citation.
  4. To find your citation turn to the page that has the applicable volume number for your reporter on that page. Make sure that you are in the correct section; a single volume of Shepard’s may contain citations to more than one reporter.
  5. Find citations to your case by locating the volume and page number that correspond to your citation. Volume numbers appear in bold type at the top corner of each page; the page numbers will also be in bold and are set off by dashes in the columns.

B. Understanding the Order of Citations

    Parallel Citations
  1. Parallel citations appear in parentheses the first time the case is cited and will not appear in subsequent volumes.
  2. If a parallel citation was not available at the time of Shepard’s publication, it will appear in the next edition.
  3. If there is no parallel cite in any of the volumes, then there is no parallel source.
  4. Shepard’s lists parallel cites to regional, state AND topical reporters.
    Case History
  1. Case histories indicating prior or subsequent proceedings in the same case appear immediately after the parallel cite.
  2. History citations will always have an identifying abbreviation letter preceding the references. See Section C in this guide for an explanation of the abbreviation symbols.
    Treatment of Case
  1. This section is arranged by court. Decisions in your case’s jurisdiction always appear first.
  2. Within the listing for each reporter, citations are listed in chronological order. There is no ranking by importance or effect on the cited case.
  3. Citations to cases from other jurisdictions generally follow the cases of the home jurisdiction, although this section is sometimes limited to Federal cases.
  4. In general, cases from other states appear only in the Shepard’s for regional reporters and not for state reporters.
    Secondary Materials
  1. Shepard’s Citators include citations from secondary sources or from annotations that have cited your case.
  2. State Citators include references to:
    American Bar Association Journal
    – Major national law reviews
    – Bar journals and law reviews published in the same state as the jurisdiction covered by a particular Shepard’s
  3. Shepard’s Federal Citators do NOT include references to law reviews.
  4. Annotations in American Law Reports (ALR) are included among citing sources in state and federal Shepard’s.
  5. Some state Shepard’s include references to Attorney General opinions.
  6. Shepard’s Citators may include references to legal treatises published by Shepards/McGraw-Hill.

C. Understanding Shepard’s Abbreviations and Symbols

  1. Shepard’s uses unique abbreviations in its citation lists. To interpret these abbreviations, turn to the Table of Abbreviations in the front of each Shepard’s volume.
  2. The letter appearing before a citation in the listing indicates how the case was treated by a subsequent proceeding or by a decision from another court. Explanations of these letters appear in the front of the bound volumes under “Abbreviations-Analysis” and on the inside of the front cover of the paper supplements.
  3. The small raised number (superscript) to the immediate right of the reporter abbreviation is a headnote number referring to a headnote from your case. This feature allows you to go directly to references that discuss a particular issue in your case.
  4. Annotation references in Shepard’s end with the letter “n” and supplemental annotation references with the letter “s”.

D. Using Westlaw to Shepardize a Case

  1. To Shepardize a case in Westlaw, enter your citation in the Key Cite box.
  2. This online service also offers ways of updating Shepards.

How to Shepardize a Case

Casetext offers a variety of ways to cite-check cases. This article describes all the tools that you can use to see how a case has been cited by other cases. There are 4 tools, explained below: (1) our “citing cases” tab, (2) our summaries written by judges, (3) our “key passages,” and (4) our SmartCite flags.

This article is focused on cite-checking cases. To find out how to cite-check the authorities in a brief or other legal document, please see “How do I cite check my brief?”

1. “Citing Cases” tab:

Casetext lists all the cases that have cited the case you are reading in the “citing cases” tab. That tab is found just below the case title. You can also access the “citing cases” from the window that appears again below the case name, as indicated by the red boxes in the screenshot below:

How to Shepardize a Case

When you click on the “citing cases” tab or window, you’ll be taken to a results search that lists all the cases that cite to the case you were just reading. From that screen, you can filter and narrow the citing cases by jurisdiction, motion type, cause of action, party types, and date. You can also search through the “citing cases” for specific terms in the “search within” bar that appears just below “filter and narrow” on the left-hand side of your screen:

How to Shepardize a Case

After you click on the “citing cases” tab, you can rank the cases that cite your case as follows:

-Depth of Treatment: moves the cases that provide the most in-depth treatment of your original case to the top of the “citing cases” list;
-Newest to oldest: moves the newest cases to the top of the “citing cases” list;
-Oldest to newest: moves the oldest cases to the top of the “citing cases” list;
-Cite count: moves the most cited of the citing cases to the top of the list.

In addition, if you found a case through a document-based CARA A.I. search, you can use CARA’s algorithm to rank the cases in the “citing cases” tab. CARA’s algorithm will move the citing cases that most closely match the context of your uploaded document to the top of your search results.

To change how the cases in the “citing cases” tab are ranked, click the blue text that says “Sort by. ” in the upper right-hand corner of the screen displaying your citing cases:

How to Shepardize a Case

2. Summaries written by judges:

Casetext collects all summaries of a case written by judges in other cases and displays them in the “summaries written by judges” window that appears just below the case name. Each summary contains a hyperlink to the case that provided the summary.

As shown in the example below, Terry v. Ohio was summarized in United States v. Griffin, 730 F.3d 1252 (11th Cir. 2013) for the following proposition: “finding that out of the 4.4 million Terry stops conducted by the NYPD between 2004 and 2012, 88 percent did not result in an arrest or summons and that no weapons were found in 98.5 percent of the 2.3 million frisks conducted over the same period.” This summary comes from a parenthetical that appears in page 1256 of United States v. Griffin:

How to Shepardize a Case

3. Key Passages

When reading a case, you may notice that some passages are highlighted in green and some passages are highlighted in pink. These colors are used to alert you to the fact that certain passages in the case you are reading have been cited by other cases.

Passages highlighted in green indicate that multiple cases have cited that passage. To see the cases that have cited to that passage, click on the green highlighting. Doing that will bring up a separate window, showing you all the cases that have cited that passage. If you scroll down to the bottom of that window, you will see a button allowing you to “see and filter all citing cases.” Clicking that button will allow you to see all cases citing a particular passage and filter those cases by search term, jurisdiction, motion type, cause of action, and date:

How to Shepardize a Case

Passages highlighted in pink indicate that other cases have cited and emphasized those sentences. This tool captures each time a court uses “emphasis added” to emphasize the words in a case. To see the cases that have emphasized a passage, click on the pink highlighting. Doing that will bring up a separate window, showing you all the cases that have emphasized that passage. If you scroll down to the bottom of that window, you will see a button allowing you to “see and filter all citing cases.” Clicking that button will allow you to see all cases emphasizing a particular passage and filter those cases by search term, jurisdiction, motion type, cause of action, and date:

How to Shepardize a Case

4. SmartCite Flags

Casetext’s SmartCite Citator uses flags to indicate how cases have been cited by other cases and treated on appeal.

A yellow flag indicates that a case has been distinguished by other cases, or cited by other cases with a contrary citation signal (But see, but cf., contra). By clicking on the yellow flag, you can see a list of cases that have distinguished the case you are reading, or have cited it as a contrary authority:

How to Shepardize a Case

SmartCite also uses green, red, and orange flags to indicate how a case has been treated on appeal. To learn more about using our cases to see how a case has been treated on appeal, please see How do I know if a case is good law? and Can I see how a case has been treated on appeal?

The term “Shepardize” is used here to refer to the process of checking how a case has been cited by other cases. Casetext does not offer Shepard’s Citations, which is a product of LexisNexis, and is not associated with or endorsed by LexisNexis or any of its affiliates.

Law Library : Ask a Librarian

Have a question? Need assistance? Use our online form to ask a librarian for help.

Authors:
Barbara Bavis, Bibliographic and Research Instruction Librarian, Law Library of Congress

Robert Brammer, Senior Legal Information Specialist, Law Library of Congress

Editors:
Janeen Williams, Legal Reference Librarian, Law Library of Congress

Kellee Bonnell, Legal Reference Librarian, Law Library of Congress

Note: This guide is adapted from a research guide originally published on the Law Library’s blog, In Custodia Legis.

Created: June 15, 2018

Last Updated: December 10, 2019

One of the defining features of the common law system is the emphasis placed on the precedential value of case law. Until recently, case law has not been widely available on the Internet, leaving researchers with no choice but to seek out print reporters and commercial electronic databases to locate cases of interest. This situation has started to change, however, and now researchers have several free, online databases at their disposal. These resources do not replace the use of commercial print and electronic resources, since they are often limited in coverage, do not provide a digest, and do not contain a quick and effective citator External , but researchers’ use of free online materials as a starting point can save them time and money. For example, researchers might use these resources to locate cases of interest and then visit their local public law library to use citators and other subscription resources to ensure these cases are still “good law.”

There are several freely-available options for tracking down electronic case law. Some of the most prominent of these are listed in this guide.

After using these resources, if you have any questions, or would like to use a citator to update the cases you have found, feel free to visit the Law Library of Congress or your local public law library External .

How to Shepardize a Case Joseph Ferdinand Keppler. Our Overworked Supreme Court. 1885. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

HOW TO SHEPARDIZE A STATUTE

Shepard’s Statute volumes indicate subsequent legislation and court decisions citing your citation. These volumes also allow you to Shepardize federal and state constitutions, court rules, session laws, treaties, charters and ordinances. For information on Shepardizing cases see How to Shepardize a Case.

The method used below can be applied to all state and federal statute citators.

Shepard’s Citations are located on the main floor of the College Library in the Paralegal Area. In the College’s library, Shepard’s Citators are placed after the set to which it pertains (for example, Shepard’s Federal Statute Citations are located after United State Code Annonated).

A. Locating Shepard’s Statute Citations

  1. Find the appropriate set of volumes for your citation (for example, for Federal statutes, use Shepard’s Federal Statute Citations; for Pennsylvania cases, use Shepard’s Pennsylvania Citations, Case & Statute Edition). The set usually consists of bound volumes and paper supplements.
  2. Find the most recent pamphlet of the set. The front cover will indicate what volumes are included in the set under the heading “What Your Library Should Contain.”
  3. Gather all of the volumes (including supplements!) that contain your citation. Be sure to check every volume in the set for your citation.
  4. To find your citation turn to the “Table of Contents” in the beginning of each of these volumes and find the statute division. Within the statute division the codes are covered in chronological order. Find the section covering the most recent code.
  5. Find citations to your reference by locating the title and section that correspond to your citation. Title and section numbers appear in bold type at the top corner of each page and are also set off in a box on that page.
  6. In addition to Shepardizing your statute as a whole, you can also Shepardize statute sections and subdivisions. Citations to the statute as a whole appear first followed by citations to sections and groups of sections. Citations to subdivisions appear under the related section.

B. Understanding the Order of Citations

  1. Subsequent legislative enactments (i.e., amendments, repeals, etc.)
  2. Cases citing to the statute
  3. Attorney General Opinions
  4. Legal periodicals
  5. Annotations in American Law Reports and United States Supreme Court Reports, Lawyers’ Edition

C. Understanding Shepard’s Abbreviations and Symbols

  1. Shepard’s uses unique abbreviations. To interpret these abbreviations turn to the “Abbreviations-Analysis” section in the front of each bound Shepard’s volumes or on the inside front cover of the paper supplements.
  2. The letter appearing before a legislative citation indicates what happened to the statute. The citation following the abbreviation will tell you where in Purdon’s Pennsylvania Statutes Annotated you can find the change. For example: A 1998No162 means that the statute you Shepardized was amended by the Pennsylvania Legislature by Act No. 162 of the 1998 Pamphlet Laws.
  3. A letter appearing before a judicial citation will indicate whether the court ruled on the constitutionality or validity of the statute. For example: C 726A2d441 shows that the statute was held to be constitutional in the case beginning on page 441 in Volume 726 of the Atlantic Reporter 2d Series.

D. Using Online Services to Shepardize a Statute

  1. To Shepardize a statute on Westlaw, enter your citation in the Key Cite box.
  2. It is possible to Shepardize Federal statutes, Pennsylvania statutes and most other state statutes.

Related Research Guides

From Off Campus

Most Library online resources can be accessed from off campus by current UD faculty, staff, and students. When using links on these pages, you may be prompted for your UDelNetID and password. Please report any issues you encounter while accessing Library databases, e-journals, or e-books.

Subject Librarian

How to Shepardize a Case

Recommendation for Library Purchase

The Library welcomes suggestions for books, journals, videos and other material. Please use the Recommendation for Purchase form to send your suggestions.

Guides & Encyclopedias

Learning Law

Federal Depository

How to Shepardize a Case

The University of Delaware Library is a Federal Depository Library.

“A popular Government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but as Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”
– James Madison, “Letter to W. T. Barry” (August 4, 1822)

Quick Links

Provides free public access to official publications from all three branches of the Federal Government. Includes some of the most frequently used government information sources. Examples: Congressional Record, Congressional bills and laws, Federal Register, Presidential papers, United States Government Manual, and United States Statutes at Large.

(formerly called FDsys)

Provides comprehensive coverage of U.S. statutory materials, U.S. Congressional publications, and more than 2,400 scholarly journals. Also has subject specialized databases, such as, Gun Regulation and Legislation in America.

Comprehensive index of congressional publications from 1789 to the present. Complemented by library collections of government publications in paper, microfiche, and electronic formats.

What is Shepardizing?

Shepardizing refers to checking a citator to see how and when another case has cited the case that you are researching. Shepardizing is important because it helps you check the status of a case or statute to ensure that it is still good law. It also helps to locate other cases, statutes, and legal resources that cite your case on a similar legal issue.

The term “Shepard’s” comes from the original print version of citators, but now it is used to generically refer to the act of checking all citing cases. (Think of Shepard’s as a brand name, like “Kleenex,” that we use to refer to all things in that category even if it is not that brand). You can Shepardize both in print and electronically.

Important Note : LSC-North Harris Library only subscribes to Shepard’s Texas Citations in print. For cases outside of Texas, please use Westlaw’s KeyCite.

Electronic Access: Westlaw

“Shepardizing” in Westlaw is referred to instead by the term KeyCite since the company Lexis has a copyright on the Shepard’s name. KeyCite in Westlaw accomplishes the same thing as Shepardizing by tracking the citing cases (cases that cite the case that you are researching).

To “shepardize” in Westlaw:

  1. On the Westlaw homepage, search for your case and click on the case report..
  2. There will be tabs across the top. The two tabs that relate to Shepardizing are Negative Treatment and Citing References.
  3. The Negative Treatment tab lists any subsequent cases or laws that treated the case that you are researching in a negative way.
  4. The Citing References tab lists all subsequent cases (and other legal resources) that have cited the case that you are looking at (including those that treated it negatively).

For further instructions in using Westlaw’s KeyCite, see the Westlaw Guide: Checking Citations in KeyCite.

What is Fastcase?

Fastcase, a Washington D.C. based company, is the premiere American provider of online legal research.

Here’s just some of what Fastcase includes:

  • an easy-to-use search engine that allows both Boolean and natural-language searching;
  • cases from the courts of review from Illinois and every other state, as well as U.S. Supreme and federal appellate and district court cases (users can search all jurisdictions at once);
  • Illinois statutes;
  • star pagination and double-column printing.

Is Fastcase available to all Illinois State Bar Association members free-of-charge?

Yes. It is brought to you by the ISBA Mutual Insurance Company.

How will I access Fastcase?

You may access Fastcase from any page in the Illinois State Bar Association’s website by clicking on the Fastcase logo in the upper right of the page (it is also accessible through the Practice Tools menu). You will be asked to sign in (if you aren’t logged in) and the will be taken straight to the Fastcase Quick Case Law Search Page.

Is there an app for that?

Will I need training to use Fastcase?

Navigation of Fastcase is easy and intuitive. The Fastcase support page offers tutorials and documentation. Fastcase also offers live webinar overviews that qualify for CLE credit.

How current is the legal research database?

Fastcase updates its libraries daily, and they add most appellate cases in slip form to the system between 24 and 48 hours from their release by the court.

Can I Shepardize cases on Fastcase?

Fastcase’s Authority Check feature displays a list of later-citing cases, as well as the text in which the citation occurs. Additionally, Fastcase recently released the Bad Law Bot which uses computer algorithms to detect when cases have been treated negatively in subsequent court cases. These cases will appear in the Fastcase database with a big red flag next to the party names. Bad Law Bot is great at identifying negative treatment, but as with Shepards or Keycite, attorneys should never entirely rely on any citator without consulting the sources.

What is Authority Check/Bad Law Bot?

Authority Check searches for other cases that cite your case and displays the results as a list of hyperlinked case names. This is a great research tool for finding related precedents, or to help determine the continuing value of a case as a precedent. In addition, you can use Authority Check on the Results page to sort search results in order of authority — with the most often-cited cases at the top of the list. Note that Authority Check only lists citing precedents in the Fastcase database.

The Bad Law Bot reads through the cases in the Authority Check report and analyzes the language the citing court uses in discussing the case. If it detects negative language was used in discussing your case, a big, red flag is posted on the case. In addition, you will see on the Authority Check Report a Bad Law Bot section highlighting the negative cases and the negative or neutral language it used that the Bad Law Bot thinks you need to know about.

What are Boolean searches, Natural language searches and Citation searches?

“Boolean” (or “keyword”) searches are familiar to most Web users. They allow searchers to use terms such as AND, OR, NOT, ( ), ” “, to find cases germane to a research question. Using “w/n” between two search terms (where n is a number) will find cases in which the two terms appear within n words of each other. Fastcase uses the “implied AND” search protocol, which means if there is no connector between search terms, it is treated as if the “AND” connector was used.

Natural language searches are much less precise, but are a good place to start if you don’t have exact search terms. Natural Language searches return the best 100 results for your search, even if some of your terms don’t appear in the results, or even if more than 100 cases contain your search terms. This search works well if you want to include certain words in your keyword search that might or might not appear in the result. For example, if you wanted to search for the phrase “Rule 11 sanctions for frivolous filing”, a Boolean search, the search would only list cases using the word “frivolous”, whereas a Natural Language search would return the most relevant 100 results, even if the word “frivolous” did not appear.

  • All
  • Groups
    • Course-Specific
    • Research
    • Textbooks & Course Materials
    • Tutoring & Classroom Help
    • Writing & Citing
  • Topics
    • 1 ACCT
    • 1 ANTH
    • 2 BIOL
    • 10 BUSN
    • 4 CMRJ
    • 2 COMM
    • 4 ECON
    • 2 EDMG
    • 1 ENGL
    • 4 EVSP
    • 2 HCAD
    • 2 INTL
    • 10 LSTD
    • 3 MGMT
    • 10 NURS
    • 8 PADM
    • 6 PBHE
    • 4 PSYC
    • 6 SCIN
    • 1 SPAN
    • 1 SPMT
    • 4 SPST
  • To “Shepardize” a case is to trace case history that refers to the selected case. According to Nexis Uni, these subsequent cases “determine whether it is still good law, e.g., whether its value as precedent has been affected by a later court decision or legislative action”.

    Use these instructions to locate the case you’d like to Shepardize. Once you’ve found the case, look for a small, colorful symbol beside the case’s citation. This is referred to as the Shepard’s Symbol:

    How to Shepardize a Case

    Click on the symbol to see all of the citing decisions for your case. A complete list of Shepard’s Signals and what they indicate is available here.

    View this Introduction to Nexis Uni video to learn how to use Nexis Uni more effectively. For more information on legal studies resources at APUS, visit the Legal Studies & Paralegal Studies Program Guide.

    How to Brief (Summarize) Decisions: Web-based resources

    How to Read a US Court Opinion

    Identifying Parts of a Case Briefing in Databases

    Supreme Court Case Parts:

    LexisNexis Academic

    Citation Signals: Tell you what kind of “treatment” the decision has received: Positive, Cautionary, Neutral, Negative, or none. Here you will get the Prior History, which tells you which court the case came from, if the case has been overturned, reaffirmed, or questioned.

    Core Terms: are cataloging keywords or tags that are assigned to this case.

    LexisNexis® Headnotes: points of law or rules of opinion made in this case.

    Outcome (Also called Disposition ): refers to a court’s final determination of a case or issue. Three things can happen here. 1) The court Affirms a case, allowing the lower court’s opinion to stand; 2) they can Reverse, Void or Vacate: overruling a lower court’s ruling; or they can 3) Remand: send the case back to a lower court for a retrial.

    Sometimes it will give you the vote count and the vote breakdown.

    Prior History: This brief notation tells you which court sent the case to the Supreme Court. Initially, the Supreme Court receives a writ de certiorari, a petition to hear a case previously decided in a lower court, and if they decide to hear a case, they request all the documents of that case from the lower court. If they hear a case, no new evidence is introduced, they just review the case and make a decision.

    Procedural Posture: tells you how the previous court has ruled on a matter.

    Syllabus/Overview: gives you a brief summary of the facts, legal issues and what the court decided.

    Supreme Court Case Parts:

    WestLawNext: Campus Research

    Citing References- This tab section will tell you whether this case has been cited by later cases or sources.

    Disposition (located below the summary): refers to a court’s final determination of a case or issue. Three things can happen here. 1) The court Affirms a case, allowing the lower court’s opinion to stand; 2) they can Reverse, Void or Vacate: overruling a lower court’s ruling; or they can 3) Remand: send the case back to a lower court for a retrial.

    History Tab: Tells you which court the case came from, if the case has been overturned, reaffirmed, or questioned.
    Initially, the Supreme Court receives a writ de certiorari, a petition to hear a case previously decided in a lower court, and if they decide to hear a case, they request all the documents of that case from the lower court. If they hear a case, no new evidence is introduced, they just review the case and make a decision.

    Opinion– articulates the courts official decision.

    Syllabus/Overview: gives you a brief summary of the facts, legal issues and what the court decided.

    Site Key Flags: Tell you what kind of “treatment” the decision has received: Yellow flag= negative history, but case not reversed; Red Flag = case no longer a good law.

    WestKey Number System/ West Headnotes (listed by number): points of law or rules of opinion made in this case.

    MyCase Blog Home » Using Google Scholar For Legal Research – Part 1

    Until recently, legal research costs were a significant part of overhead for most law firms. Whether it was maintaining a costly legal library full of books or, more recently, paying an expensive monthly subscription to Westlaw or LexisNexis, high cost legal research tools were a necessary expense that few law firms could avoid.

    Fortunately, times have changed and lawyers in 2017 have lots of different legal research tools to choose from at a variety of price points. Some are available at a discount or for free as part of your bar association membership, and there are even very robust, free options like Google Scholar.

    If you’re not yet familiar with Google Scholar, then you’re missing out. It’s a free, easy-to-use legal research platform that’s ideal for many solo and small firm lawyers and provides you with access to a broad spectrum of both federal and state caselaw. In this 2-part guide, I’ll get you up-to-date on the ins and outs of using Google Scholar for caselaw research. And for even more detailed information on Google Scholar, make sure to register for our free webinar, “Google Scholar And Free Legal Research,” which will be held this Thursday, June 8th.

    Once you dive in and give it a try, you may just decide that Google Scholar is the right legal research tool for your law firm.

    What’s included in Google Scholar?

    Google Scholar’s coverage of caselaw is impressive. It includes court opinions from all 50 states and all federal courts. The specific jurisdictions covered are described here:

    “Google Scholar allows you to search and read published opinions of US state appellate and supreme court cases since 1950, US federal district, appellate, tax and bankruptcy courts since 1923 and US Supreme Court cases since 1791. In addition, it includes citations for cases cited by indexed opinions or journal articles which allows you to find influential cases (usually older or international) which are not yet online or publicly available.”

    Now that you have an understanding of its coverage, let’s move onto nitty gritty: how to search Google Scholar’s caselaw database.

    Review your default settings

    Before you dive in, refine your settings so that your search results will be the most useful to you. Click on the arrow in the upper righthand corner located next to the “My citations” button and click on “Settings” as shown below (this is also where you can refine your search terms as discussed more fully below):

    How to Shepardize a Case

    You’ll be taken to a page that will allow you change your settings to, among other things, change the number of search results per page, and determine whether results will be opened in a new browser page. After clicking “Save” you’ll be returned to the main search page:

    How to Shepardize a Case

    Choose your caselaw database(s)

    First you need to check “Case law,” which is located to the right under the search bar. Then, before you enter your search terms, you’ll need to choose the jurisdictions you’d like to search. To do that you simply go to the Google Scholar start page and click on “Select courts,” which is located underneath the search box on the right, as shown below:

    How to Shepardize a Case

    You’ll notice that once you’ve used Google Scholar a few times, it will default to your preferred courts, which in my case are federal courts and New York (since I happen to live in New York). Once you click on “Select courts” you’ll be taken to the page below where you can check the various court databases that you’d like to include in your search. The state courts are listed in alphabetical order. To view courts that are not listed below, you’ll simply need to scroll down the page to locate them:

    How to Shepardize a Case

    Enter your search terms

    Once you’ve chosen your jurisdiction, enter your search terms and click the search icon. Your search results will then appear, listed by relevance as the default. If you’d rather the cases be sorted by date, you can click on “sort by date,” located near the bottom of the lefthand sidebar. You’ll notice that your search terms will be highlighted in the search results. You can then limit the search results by clicking on the date limitations shown in the lefthand column:

    How to Shepardize a Case

    Refine your search terms

    You can refine your search terms by clicking on the same icon on the upper righthand corner that you clicked on when you established your default settings. From the drop down menu, select “Advanced search” and the following window will appear wherein you can enter your revised search terms or otherwise limit your search parameters. Once you’re happy with the newly revised search terms, run the search and you’ll be returned to the search results page.

    How to Shepardize a Case

    If you’d like to create an alert for this search so that you’ll be notified if new cases are handed down that fall within your search parameters, click on “Create an alert” at the bottom of the righthand sidebar and you’ll be taken to a page where you can enter your email address and create the alert:

    How to Shepardize a Case

    From there you can explore and refine the search results. I’ll show you how to do this, save and file your search results, and much more in next week’s post. To learn more, check out Part 2 of this series!

    Then make sure to watch the full recording of our recent webinar, “Google Scholar And Legal Research Tips.” Soon you’ll learn everything you need to know about using free or low-cost legal research tools in your solo or small law firm!

    MyCase Blog Home » How To Conduct Free Legal Research Using Google Scholar (Part 2)

    Legal research is something lawyers do nearly every day. That’s why convenient, affordable access to legal research materials is so important.

    The advent of computer-based legal research was the first step toward leveling the playing field and providing solos and small firms with access to the incredible depth of materials once only available in academic or government law libraries or in the law libraries of large law firms. But it was web-based legal research that truly gave solos and small firms the tools they needed to compete–and at a price they could afford.

    Google Scholar is a prime example of this–it provides free access to a wide range of legal materials, all of which are accessible and searchable via a user-friendly interface. The trick is to set aside time to learn the ins and outs of conducting legal research on Google Scholar. To make this process even easier for you, I’m writing this 2-part blog post series dedicated to how to use it for legal research. Last week, in Part 1, I explained the basics of using Google Scholar for legal research. In today’s post I’ll delve into the more advanced search features and will also cover ways to sort and organize your research.

    Let’s start with the advanced search techniques offered by Google Scholar. To use these features, you need to pull up the advanced search menu. You’ll notice that if you hover over the downward-facing arrow at the end of the search box, the words “Advanced Scholar Search” will pop up as shown below:

    How to Shepardize a Case

    Once you click on the arrow, a menu will appear. You can then limit your search by term, publication, author and more. As shown below, I limited my search by date:

    How to Shepardize a Case

    As you can see, the search returned only one result. But it’s easy to expand on the results by modifying the date restriction. You simply click on the dates listed in the left hand column. In this case, I will choose “Since 2011” in order to change the date restrictions:

    How to Shepardize a Case

    Doing so adds a number of cases to the list. I can also expand on the search by choosing other courts or searching for articles that imclude the search terms instead. As shown below, my next step in the legal research process will be to expand the search into articles:

    How to Shepardize a Case

    Once you’ve located the legal research that you would like to save, the next step is to add the results to your research library. You do this by clicking on the word “save” below the item that you want to add to your library. As you can see below, I’ve already saved the first article, since it says “saved” under it. So I’ll click on “save” under the second article to save that to my library:

    How to Shepardize a Case

    Now let’s head over to my legal research library so that we can view items already saved and sort them into research folders. You do this by clicking on “My library” near the top of the left hand column:

    How to Shepardize a Case

    Here is what my library of legal research looks like. As you can see, I’ve already created two labels, which appear in the left hand column: “Aggravated harassment research” and “John Smith case.”

    How to Shepardize a Case

    To view only the items saved with a specific label, you can click on that label. In this case, I’m going to view items saved in the John Smith case:

    How to Shepardize a Case

    Once I do that, you’ll see I’ve only filed one case under that label. From this page or the prior page, I can create new labels or modify current labels by clicking on “Manage labels” in the middle of the left hand column:

    How to Shepardize a Case

    Doing so takes me to this page, where I am given the option on the right hand side of the page to edit or delete current labels or I can click on “Create a new label” at the top of the page:

    How to Shepardize a Case

    Clicking on “Create a new label” takes me to this page, where I’ll add a new label, “Ann Johnson case”:

    How to Shepardize a Case

    I am then returned to the “Manage labels” page and you’ll see that the new label is now listed. The labels will appear in alphabetical order based on the first letter of the first word of the label. Next, let’s modify that label by clicking on “Edit,” which is to the right of the label:

    How to Shepardize a Case

    Once you do so, as you can see, you’re given the option to revise the name of the label:

    How to Shepardize a Case

    And, if you clicked “Delete” instead, you would be given the option to delete the label.

    So there you have it: everything you need to know to get started with free legal research using Google Scholar! Any useful Google Scholar tips you’d like to add? Feel free to do so in the comments.

    You can’t Shepardize® case law when doing research on laws and decisions on the VersusLaw site. You can Shepardize® case law on citations, products and services available from the Shepard’s Company and online exclusively from LexisNexis.

    But the good news is that for Premium and Professional Plan subscribers, V.Cite, our new case law citation search tool, can approximate the same result. When doing case law research at the Supreme Court, federal, or state level, V.Cite enables you to use search terms such as “california,” “georgia,” “texas,” “arizona,” or the name(s) of defendants or plaintiffs to get a result similar to a Shepardized® case law. Additionally, the following example demonstrates a work-around doing it the old-fashioned way.

    1. Search for the opinion by its formal case law citation: 491 U.S. 1
      This search will retrieve Pennsylvania v. Union Gas, 491. U.S. 1 (S. Ct. 1989), and all case law that have cited to it.
    2. When the hitlist appears, use the “Find” function under the Edit menu of your browser to jump to the case law on the list that includes the case law citation. Enter the case law citation “491 U.S. 1” in the dialog box that appears when you select Edit, Find.
    3. The other case law on the hitlist are opinions in which Pennsylvania v. Union Gas has been cited. In your research, you can open these opinions and again use the “Find” function to jump directly to the discussion of Union Gas within the opinion.

    Because some of the case law on VersusLaw do not yet have the formal or parallel case law citation added, a search for the case law citation may retrieve opinions that have cited to the opinion you want, but will not retrieve the actual opinion. In this situation, you will need to run a search for the party names by following these steps:

    1. Search for case law using the names of the parties (as they appear in the formal citation for the case) and the “within” search operator:

      Pennsylvania w/10 Union Gas

      This search will retrieve “Pennsylvania v. Union Gas” or “Union Gas v. Pennsylvania” and all case law research results that cite to them.

    2. When the hitlist appears, open one of the opinions retrieved.
    3. When you have the opinion open, use the “Find” function under the Edit menu of your browser, entering one of the party names in the dialog box:

      The browser will jump to the point in the opinion where “Pennsylvania” appears. HINT: Use “Find next” to see every instance in which “Pennsylvania” is cited in the opinion. For Premium and Professional Plan users, use the First Hit and Next Hit buttons.

      You can obtain more specific results by adding terms to your search.

      (Pennsylvania w/10 Union Gas) w/10 (overrul* or revers* or modif*)

      Subject Area(s):

      • Higher Ed: Law

      Grade Level(s):

      • Graduate

      Description:

      This lesson is designed for first year law students in their second semester of school. It is the second task of a semester-long project culminating in the writing of a “Memo to Partner”. The lesson will take place during one Legal Writing class period, which is 90 minutes long. However, due to the difficulty of the subject matter, and in an effort to provide more individualized attention to the students to increase their motivation, the class will be split in half, so there will be two classes teaching the same lesson. The class will take place in one of the law school’s library. Each student will be required to use a laptop computer during the task. Students will work their way through the buILder, which contains a tutorial on how to Shepardize a case. Students will complete an accompanying worksheet, which will measure their ability to evaluate a case for validity and persuasiveness. Students will improve their reading comprehension skills as they compare the cases, they will have to compare the rulings of different courts and judges. At the end of the lesson, students will turn their worksheets into the Reference Librarian who will review the answers with the class.

      Goals & Objectives:

      Instructional Goals

      § Students will learn to Shepardize a case using books rather than an on-line service.

      § Students will learn to evaluate whether or not a decision is still good law (validity).

      § Students will learn to evaluate how their case has been treated by other courts in their jurisdiction (persuasiveness).

      § Students will improve their legal reading comprehension skills by comparing case law

      Learning Objectives

      • First Year Law Students will:

      · Successfully Shepardize their assigned case

      · Successfully evaluate the validity of their assigned case

      · Successfully evaluate the persuasiveness of their assigned case

      Motivational Goals

      § Generate interest in the research process

      § Generate interest in doing research using books rather than an on-line service

      § Build confidence in evaluating case law for validity and persuasiveness

      § Promote satisfaction in search accomplishments

      Aaron Kirschenfeld on Law, Information Science, and Miscellany

      What is a citator good for?

      Citators have been a part of the American legal research landscape for about as long as any type of product. First appearing in the early 1820s, citators showed up around the same time as the first case law digests (and naturally, after the first reporters and treatises). Why lawyers wanted them was fairly straightforward — they sought to avoid the type of “Oh, sh*t” moment I wrote about last week in my post about false negatives and false positives. But in an era featuring a veritable buffet of case law authority for attorneys to find and choose from, combined with new technological tools to access and query that authority, one wonders how relevant the traditional “updating” function of case law citators really is.

      Beyond the Terms

      Let’s say you don’t subscribe to one of the three major services (Westlaw, Lexis, or Bloomberg Law) with an editorial citator (KeyCite, Shepard’s, or BCite) — how do you update your case law? That is, in the parlance of only two or three decades ago, when many lawyers were educated, how do you Shepardize? There is a vocabulary problem here, of course, when an action has been subsumed by a product name. Hasn’t the function of “doing citation analysis” or “finding out what cases cite my case” been locked in to Shepard’s promised backstopping model? (“Shepardize” is a trademarked term, naturally. I’ll leave dilution or “genericide” analysis to you.)

      My point is that by asking “how do I Shepardize?” you are asking the wrong question. The question really should be “how do I situate the legal doctrine I’m relying upon within the context of the cases that follow it?” Once you make the leap beyond equating all citators with the way you have used Shepard’s, KeyCite, etc., in the past, it’s possible to think of other ways of verifying the authority you’ve found. Why, for instance, should Shepardizing come at the end of the research process and not closer to the beginning? (Certainly citators are more powerful than serving as the means by which to check boxes at the end of a demanding intellectual task.) This step is essential for lawyers demanding real choices from their legal information vendors in the citator space and, frankly, for conducting more thoughtful legal analysis.

      Further Reading:

      The excellent article by Patti Ogden, “‘Mastering the Lawless Science of Our Law’: A Story of Legal Citation Indexes,” 85 Law Libr. J. 1, 39 (1993), for a fascinating history.

      Of course, you can also read my paper, Yellow Flag Fever, 108 Law Libr. J. 77 (2016) here.

      Instructional Goals

      § Students will learn to Shepardize a case using books rather than an on-line service.

      § Students will learn to evaluate whether or not a decision is still good law (validity).

      § Students will learn to evaluate how their case has been treated by other courts in their jurisdiction (persuasiveness).

      § Students will improve their legal reading comprehension skills by comparing case law

      Learning Objectives

      • First Year Law Students will:

      · Successfully Shepardize their assigned case

      · Successfully evaluate the validity of their assigned case

      · Successfully evaluate the persuasiveness of their assigned case

      Motivational Goals

      § Generate interest in the research process

      § Generate interest in doing research using books rather than an on-line service

      § Build confidence in evaluating case law for validity and persuasiveness

      § Promote satisfaction in search accomplishments

      Shepard’s citation manuals

      Introduction

      Content

      Technique

      Students are introduced to the daily class plan by the Reference Librarian.

      To combat low student motivation for the task, Professor discusses with students the kinds of tasks that junior associates receive and how this assignment is similar.

      Power Point presentation, discussion and questioning;

      ARCS theories – attention, relevance and confidence

      Body

      Content

      Technique

      Students will work on the buILder associated with this lesson with assistance from the Reference Librarian.

      Students will complete the three tasks in the buILder while answering a worksheet, which tests their legal reading comprehension abilities.

      Individual computer work, book work and worksheet

      Assistance from Reference Librarian as needed

      Task 1 – Each student will be assigned a different United States Supreme Court Case and a different federal court jurisdiction. Students will Shepardize their assigned case using books. Students will answer questions on the worksheet.

      Individual computer work, book work and worksheet

      Assistance from Reference Librarian as needed

      Task 2 – Based on the citations found by the students, they will compare subsequently decided cases and evaluate their assigned case for validity. Students will answer questions on the worksheet.

      Individual computer work, book work and worksheet

      Assistance from Reference Librarian as needed

      Task 3 – Based on the citations found by the students, they will compare subsequently decided cases and evaluate their assigned case for persuasiveness in their jurisdiction. Students will answer questions on the worksheet.

      Individual computer work, book work and worksheet

      Assistance from Reference Librarian as needed

      Conclusion

      Content

      Technique

      Students will complete their worksheets and turn them into the Reference Librarian. Reference Librarian will discuss the worksheet and the Shepardizing process with the students

      Reference Librarian feedback, PowerPoint presentation, discussion and questioning;

      ARCS theories – confidence and satisfaction

      Learning Assessment Method(s):

      ? Reference Librarian will evaluate student’s ability to Shepardize by reviewing their completed BuILder worksheet
      ? Reference Librarian will evaluate student’s ability to evaluate a case for validity by reviewing their completed BuILder worksheet
      ? Reference Librarian will evaluate student’s ability to evaluate a case for persuasiveness by reviewing their completed BuILder worksheet
      ? Reference Librarian will evaluate student’s legal reading comprehension skills based on their results from the previous two assessments. If the student understands the case law, they can successfully compare it to other cases and answer all questions correctly.

      Supporting excellence in legal research, teaching, scholarship, and practice in Montana

      It’s always great when we can pass along good news and do we have some good news for you! Now you can link to case law from publications in HeinOnline. Look for case citations that are highlighted in blue . Click on the citation and you will link to the case in either HeinOnline or Fastcase.

      Fastcase? What’s that?

      Fastcase is perhaps best known for providing legal research services to 25 state bar associations (and in the near future to the State Bar of Montana) and dozens of voluntary bar associations — and now as the power house that helps integrate case law into HeinOnline.

      What’s the case law coverage?

          • Federal cases include:
            • Supreme Court (1854 – present)
            • Federal Circuits (1924 – present)
            • Federal District Courts (1924 – present)
            • Board of Tax Appeals (vols 1-47)
            • Tax Court Memorandum Decisions (vols 1-59)
            • U.S. Customs Court (vols. 1-70)
            • Board of Immigration Appeals (1996 – present)
            • Federal Bankruptcy Courts (1 B.R. 1 – present)
          • State case law:
            • Covers all 50 states, with nearly half dating back to the 1800s.
            • Coverage for the remaining states dates back to approximately 1950.

      When do you link to cases on HeinOnline versus Fastcase?

      HeinOnline case law includes early editions of the Federal Reporter (1891 to 1922) and U.S. Supreme Court Reports. Whenever possible, you will link to a case in HeinOnline. When the case law is not included on HeinOnline, you will link to the case on Fastcase. You’ll notice a difference in the format between the two. See below.

      But wait … there’s more …

      You can also retrieve case law by citation on HeinOnline. Look for the Fastcase tab at the top of the HeinOnline home page screen. Click on the tab to open a citation search box. You can copy and paste a citation directly into the search box.

      There is also a “Direct Citation” option, which allows you to type in the volume, use a drop-down menu for the case abbreviation, and enter the page number to find your citation. To use Direct Citation, click on the Fastcase tab, but do not enter anything into the search box — instead, click “Get Citation.” On the screen that appears, the Direct Citation option appears at the top left. See below.

      Both options retrieve the full text of the case in HTML format and can be downloaded to a PDF or printed.

      Anything else you need to know?

      Cases do not come with headnotes. Nor can you “Shepardize” the cases. However, you do receive a list of articles (if any) that cite to that particular case.

      Tell me again, how do I access HeinOnline?

      To access HeinOnline for your research, go to the Law Library Databases link on the Law Library webpage and select HeinOnline from the list.

      I do not have a Lexis Nexis account or anything similar.

      edited to say; I am, actually, a paralegal student, but I believe Shepardizing by the books is outdated. (plus I was trying to avoid a trip downtown. *lolol*)

      4 Answers

      If your school has access to loislawschool.com it is free. If they do not have access, talk to your paralegal advisor and ask him or her to set up an account. It costs the school very little and the students nothing. Also, there are inexpensive student accounts available on westlaw and lexis.

      Otherwise, the only service that I know of allows you to do a minimum citation check on US Supreme Court cases only on findlaw. Go to findlaw.com and then supreme court and you will see the “cases citing this case” button when a case comes up.

      Best of luck to you.

      Yes, it’s a scam. Anytime they ask you for your credit card number when you haven’t asked to buy anything, RUN!! Have you ever heard the phrase, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t”? There’s no such thing as a “free cruise” – unless you entered a drawing with a legit cruise line or won it at a bingo game on a previous cruise. You could always call the Better Business Bureau or your state Attorney General’s office. Tell the salesperson you plan to do that before you put any money down and see what they say!

      How to Shepardize a Case

      Seven tips on how to make legal research easier and more effective

      Though many law students stress about writing in the proper IRAC format, composing the text is only half the battle. Without sound research, your memo or brief won’t carry any weight. Students often overthink their legal research, and that can lead to frustration and insufficient statutory and case law. This article identifies seven of the most efficient legal research strategies to make your legal writing process less arduous.

      1. Identify the issue of your memo

      All too often, students read the fact pattern of their client’s case and immediately start blindly searching Westlaw or LexisNexis, typing in all phrases that come to mind. Instead, law students need to take a deep breath and ask: “What is the client trying to achieve with this lawsuit?”

      By identifying the cause of action, you can then ask: “What are the legal criteria that either help or hurt my client?” The answers to those two questions will formulate the legal issue. With those terms in mind, you can then use that phrasing to formulate the search phrase.

      2. Narrow your jurisdiction

      When students first start conducting legal research, they mistakenly cast too wide a net when it comes to jurisdiction. Desperate to find applicable law, students often look to states other than the appropriate jurisdiction to find relevant case law. Cases from other states, however, are persuasive authority, not mandatory. Persuasive authority holds little weight, so it should be scrapped from your memos unless your law professor or supervising attorney states otherwise.

      The only cases that hold mandatory authority are Supreme Court decisions and those from the appropriate state. Federal cases from the corresponding circuit are also possible, but as those can be a bit trickier to apply, check with your law professor, TA or supervising attorney to make sure they were applied properly.

      3. Use Boolean search terms

      Though it may seem silly, many students will write the full issue statement into the search box. Westlaw and LexisNexis, however, actually run more like Google and typical search engines than people realize. With that in mind, mastering Boolean search terms will help you save time and yield more fruitful results.

      For example, consider the following:

      1. If your issue reads, “Under Maryland law, can a property owner be considered negligent if a wild animal bites a guest on his property?”
      2. Then, your search phrase could state: “property owner” and “negligent” and “wild animal”

      In this one search phrase, you target all 3 critical aspects of the issue. If your results become too limited, then you can eliminate either the quotation marks or one of the terms.

      You certainly won’t become an expert in Boolean search terms overnight, but by practicing them now you can save a lot of time throughout your career.

      4. Understand that helpful cases don’t have to have the legal outcome you want

      Many times students avoid using the appropriate case law because the outcome wasn’t what the client wants. For example, why refer to a case where the defendant was found guilty if you are the defense attorney? The answer lies in an attorney’s ability to distinguish cases and maintain a sound argument. Your best case may be made by showing that your client is NOT like the plaintiff or defendant of the relevant case law.

      The analysis section of your memo or brief allows you to navigate the comparison. For instance, your sentences may read something like:

      • “Unlike the Smith case, our client… .”
      • “While the Smith plaintiff had_______, our case is an example of_____.”
      • “Though the defendant in Smith _________, we ask the court _______.”

      By showing how the fact patterns are different, you can demonstrate how the court needs to find a different verdict toward your client. The caveat, however, is to make sure the laws are properly aligned. For example, don’t compare a case that maps out the law on medical malpractice when your case pertains to workers’ compensation.

      5. If you find a helpful case, use that to find other cases

      An entire article could be written on this tip. It’s perhaps the most helpful and often overlooked legal research tactic. Both Westlaw and LexisNexis offer legal research shortcuts that make a huge difference:

      • Westlaw has “KeyCite,” while LexisNexis has “Shepardize” — though both do the same task. This tool allows you to see other cases that cited your case. The cases that include your case as “good law” are definitely options for you to peruse and possibly use as additional information. Even the cases that have negative treatment to the case you have in mind can still be used if you master the art of distinguishing the cases, as discussed above.
      • When you’re reading a case in Westlaw or LexisNexis, the cases listed as authority are hyperlinked. Skimming the hyperlinked case is typically good idea because if that case had authority for the one you consider a match, it may hold weight for your client’s case as well.
      • Lastly, when you first look at a case on WestLaw or LexisNexis, there are headnotes that provide key legal points within the case. Both programs allow you to view other cases that make use of the same headnote. If one headnote is on point, then a case with that same headnote is also worth a read.

      6. Consider the date, but don’t obsess over it

      As a rule of thumb, a more recent case is generally preferred. Newer cases often reflect the legal and societal changes that could affect the case law. Nevertheless, if you find a case that matches your fact pattern and applicable law but it’s 30 years old, don’t panic. That may be your best case because your client’s legal issue hasn’t appeared in recent years. Double-check to see the negative treatment of the older case to make sure it’s still good law. If there aren’t any red flags, that case is probably fine to use.

      7. Know when to stop

      Law professors and supervising attorneys want you to do your “due diligence” when it comes to legal research. Typing in 3 different searches into the search box and then giving up won’t win you any favors. By the same token, spending 4 hours researching a fairly typical case is also a big mistake.

      You can’t view legal research as a hunt for a pot of gold. In many instances, you simply won’t find the exact case law or statute you’re looking for. When you feel as though you can’t possibly look any more, you probably can’t. Make use of what you found and write the best IRAC you can.

      If possible, ask for another set of eyes. If it’s for a law school assignment, ask your TA or mentor to take a look to see if you might have missed something. If this is an internship assignment, ask your supervising attorney if you think you’ve done enough. Though you may feel like a failure if you haven’t found the case that will land your client a victory, know that plenty of lawyers often struggle to find the right law, too.

      AUTHOR & UPDATE INFORMATION

      This guide originally prepared by Michelle Penn, Law Library Fellow.

      Last updated by Cynthia Condit, July 6, 2019.

      WHEN SHOULD YOU USE NEXIS UNI?

      Nexis Uni contains cases and statutes, and allows you to update them (called “Shepardizing.”) If you are a student with access to Westlaw or Lexis Advance, Nexis Uni is probably not the database you want to use, because Nexis Uni is a more limited version of Lexis Advance, without as much access to secondary sources. However, if you do not have access to these other databases, Nexis Uni is a great choice for online legal research, especially for primary sources like cases, statutes, and regulations. Nexis Uni has:

      • state and federal cases
      • state and federal statutes
      • state and federal regulations
      • the Federal Register and select state registers
      • law reviews
      • news
      • company information How to Shepardize a Case

      HOW DO I FIND OUT WHAT IS ON LEXIS UNI?

      If you want to only search specific sources, or if you just want to see what sources are available, click on “All Sources” under the “Menu” tab:

      How to Shepardize a Case

      The sources are arranged alphabetically, but you can filter the sources by category, jurisdiction, practice area, and other areas:

      How to Shepardize a Case

      GENERAL SEARCH TIPS

      Which search should I use?

      • use “Advanced Search” if you know something about the document you are trying to retrieve but don’t have a citation
      • use “Get a Doc Assistance” if you know a citation, the party names of a case, or a docket number

      • in Basic Search and Advanced Search, you can use either natural language or Boolean search terms
      • I n both Basic Search and Advanced Search you can use AND, OR, and NOT in your searches.
        • Search for documents that contain all of your possible words (for example: cocaine AND sentencing)
        • Search for documents that contain at least one of you possible words (for example: “climate change” OR “global warming”)
        • Include a word but exclude others (for example: teaching NOT shortage).
      • If you want to search a phrase, put the phrase in quotes
      • Use a question mark and asterisk to expand word variations in your search
        • A question mark replaces a single letter in a word, so mari?uana would search for both marijuana and marihuana
        • An asterisk can replace single or multiple letters, so walk* would retrieve walk, walks, walked, walkers, walking, walkway, etc.
      • Use /n to search for words that are near one another
        • For example, “stem cell” /5 research, retrieves documents that have “stem cell” within five words of “research”
        • You can also use /s to search for words that are within the same sentence or approximately 25 words of each other, /p to search for words that are within the same paragraph or within approximately 75 words of each other , and /seg to search for words that are within the same segment, or approximately 100 words of each other
      • Use pre/n to search for documents where the first word precedes the second word by more than “n” words
        • For example, if you want to find documents where “overtime” precedes “compensation by not more than 3 words, search” overtime pre/3 compensation
        • You can also search pre/p to find documents where one word precedes another by not more than 75 words, and pre/s to find documents where one word precedes another by not more than 25 words
      • For more information on searching, click on the “Tips” link, underneath the search bar: How to Shepardize a Case