Using Headnotes

Fifth Hour Legal Research Program http://library.law.yale.edu/small-group-legal-research-course

Fall 2013

Why Use Headnotes
• Headnotes are an indexing system to the law. • If you find that one, on-point Headnote, you can other cases that include the same/similar points of law from all jurisdictions around the country. • Headnotes are a tool for finding more cases. • Available on Lexis Advance and Westlaw Next.

Topics and Key Numbers
• Topical arrangement of cases which serves an index to case law.

• 400+ broad legal topics, further subdivided into “Key Numbers” (subtopics)
• Browse the hundreds listed, search text of headnotes, or search topic headings (right side of screen)

• For damages, see Topic #115 “Damages” (or #95 Contracts)
– Topic 115k74 is broken down into more distinct subtopics (key numbers). – 115k87(2) = Damages-k-Liquidated Damages/Nature and Theory of damages additional to compensation/Necessity of Actual Damage.

The number takes you into this point in the case.

Parts of the Westlaw Headnote

Parts of the Lexis Headnote

How to Use a Headnote
1. Click on the Headnote Number to get into the case and find the precise location of the narrow point, relevant to your issue. = Westlaw = Lexis 2. Use the most narrow Headnote to find other cases with similar points of law by selecting on the most narrow KeyNumber (Westlaw) or Subtopic (Lexis).

3. Adjust the jurisdiction.

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