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Researching Case Law Worksheet- Contracts

Researching Case Law Worksheet- Contracts

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Published by Yale Law Library
A step by step introduction to researching contract case law
A step by step introduction to researching contract case law

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Published by: Yale Law Library on Oct 28, 2013
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Yale Law SchoolLillian Goldman Law LibraryFifth Hour Legal Research / Fall 2013
JGK rev. 10.15.13
1
Researching Case LawCreating an Issue Statement for Research / Search String:
5Ws Plus:
Who, What, When, Where, Why, Legal Theory, Relief, Procedural
Posture (use what’s appropriate).
 
TAPP:
Things, Actions, People, and Places.
 
List synonyms and antonyms.
 
 
Characterize people and parties (e.g. grandparents instead of grandmother,nanny, or grandma).
 
Revise by examining your search results: Are certain words bringing upirrelevant concepts or cases? Are there terms of art that should be includedin your search string?
Useful Boolean Connectors and Expanders
And Use to connect two differentwords or concepts.Contract and Breachor Use to connect synonyms. Contract or Agreement/s Dictates that the wordsappear in the same sentencesService /s unique/p Dictates that the wordsappear in the sameparagraphProfits /p remedy/n Dictates that the wordsappear within a certainnumber of words of oneanother.Promise /50 reliance! Wild card; use at the end of aword.Recover!= recover, recovery
“ “
Use for phrase searching
“liquidated damages”
 * Universal character Remed* = remedy NOTremedialIn the Westlaw Next Search box, you must use adv: or the advanced search options
 
Yale Law SchoolLillian Goldman Law LibraryFifth Hour Legal Research / Fall 2013
JGK rev. 10.15.13
2
One Good Case Research Method:
With one good case you can find other, on-point authority by1.
 
Using the Headnotes to find an on-point Topic/Key Number. Topic/Key Numbersrepresent a narrow point of law contained in the case. Using theHeadnote/Topic/Key Number will lead you to other cases from all jurisdictionsthat share the same narrow point of law.2.
 
Using the cases and other authority cited by the court by referring to the Tableof Authorities or using the hyperlinks in the case.3.
 
Use the Citator (Shepards / Citing References/ Bcite) to find additionalauthorities.4.
 
Use the terms and concepts contained in the case to build additional searchstrings.
Lexis Advance Headnote:Westlaw Next Headnote:
Narrow TopicsTopic (Broad)Brings you directly into the case at that point.Narrow point of law from the caseBrings you directly into the case at that point.Topic (Broad)Key Number: follows the k and corresponds to the narrow issue of law.Narrow point of law from the case.
 
Yale Law SchoolLillian Goldman Law LibraryFifth Hour Legal Research / Fall 2013
JGK rev. 10.15.13
3
Hints for Using Headnotes
 
Use the narrowest topic (in Lexis Advance) or the Topic and Key Number (inWestlaw Next) to take you to more cases that share the same, narrow pointof law.
 
Adjust your jurisdiction.
 
 
Receive a list of headnotes from cases (in Westlaw Next) or cases (in LexisAdvance) that share the same narrow point of law.
 
Search within the results for a specific keyword/term/concept.
Citating
1.
 
Use a Citator to confirm you have good law and to find more cases.2.
 
Determining that you have good law is a two-prong analysis:(a) How have
subsequent, other courts
treated your case?(i) Note: depth of treatment(ii) Note: jurisdiction(iii) Note: flags/symbols
 –
interpret(b) What happened to your case as it progressed through the system? Overruled?Affirmed? Remanded? etc.3.
 
Use a citator to find additional relevant cases because the citator lists all cases thatcite your case. (
Shepard’s
/ Citing References).
To Citate in Westlaw Next
Citating in Westlaw involves interpreting flags or symbols that are attached to eachcase. The most common are1.
 
Use the
History Tab
. Review the subsequent appellate history (What happened to
your 
case subsequent to the decision at hand? Was the
 judgment 
 
affirmed 
? Was the
 judgment reversed 
? Was an
appeal dismissed 
? Was
certiorari denied or granted? 
).
 
Direct history is listed on the left.
 
Previous history is what happened to your case
before
the decision athand (for purposes of citating, its not important but it may provide somecontext to the procedural history).
 
Subsequent history is what happened to your case
after 
the decision athand. This is important for determining whether you case is good law.
 
Graphic in center, right shows all history.

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