This guide pulls together basic information and training resources for each of the online major legal research systems that the Gallagher Law Library subscribes to for use at the University of Washington School of Law. Using the navigation tabs on the left, you can review the information for Lexis, Westlaw, and Bloomberg Law and learn how to research secondary sources, case law, and statutes within each. The system-specific information includes explanations, screenshots, and links to online tutorials.
Some students wonder why they should bother learning to use three different systems. For that matter, why does the law library pay for three different systems? the three systems all have federal and state cases, statutes, and regulations. For many purposes, you could use any of them.
But the three systems do not have the same secondary sources. If you are interested in litigation and civil procedure, note that only Westlaw has Federal Practice and Procedure (the multi-volume treatise by Wrights & Miller), only Lexis has Moore's Federal Practice (another multi-volume treatise), and only Bloomberg Law has Supreme Court Practice (an essential guide for handling cases in the nation's highest court). If you are interested in intellectual property, note that only Lexis has Chisum on Patents (a multi-volume treatise), only Westlaw has Patry on Copyright (another multi-volume treatise), and only Bloomberg Law has IP treatises and newsletters published by Bloomberg BNA.
Students who stick to one system sometimes find that their employers use a different system and have to scramble to catch up. Learning to use all three while you're a student will better prepare you for different workplaces.
Why So Many Online Systems?
Some law students wonder why we encourage them to learn to use more than one system. Why Lexis AND Westlaw AND Bloomberg Law AND HeinOnline?
This video addresses that question.(10:00)
The information in this guide assumes a basic understanding of the fundamentals associated with case law, statutes, and secondary sources. If you need a refresher on any these, consider spending some time with the following (visit the law student restricted databases page if you need the CALI authorization code):
Do you learn well by watching videos? We have a lot of them, including many on efficient searching. Pop over to the list:
Access to Lexis, Westlaw, and Bloomberg Law is limited to students, faculty, and staff at the University of Washington School of Law. If you fall into one of these categories and need assistance setting up an account, please visit our Access to Restricted Databases page.
If you have any questions or need additional guidance on using these resources please contact the Research Services department. We are here to help!