Wednesday, August 17, 2011

BNA’s United States Law Week is for all Comers.

Jessica R. Alexander, J.D., M.L.S., Reference Librarian

Prior to the ability to obtain up to date case law via databases such as Lexis and Westlaw, United States Law Week, a print publication of the Bureau of National Affairs, now known as BNA, was the traditional way to get weekly updates of federal case law. It is available in print, KF101.U5 (current volumes on reserve, non-current volumes on main (3rd floor) and on-line.

The print version is split into the Supreme Court and the General editions. Opinions are summarized by the editors. Full Supreme Court opinions follow the case summaries. In the online edition look for links to full opinions in original format (PDF) at the end of the article. It is well worth a user's time to study the search features and customization abilities of the database.
  • Circuit Splits --This very important feature notes circuit splits on various legal issues. This is a tried and true method for identifying research topics.
  • Law Firm Authors -- A student who has an interview scheduled with a firm can search for articles written by firm members.
  • Customization -- Sign in by providing your name and email address. Click on Preferences. You can choose to display highlights or headlines (case alerts). Create folders to save your searches and make notes about search results.
  • Advanced Searches -- Search by headings (terms in headlines and headings), topics (subject thesaurus), case names, authors and states.
  • Split Screens -- This feature makes navigation inside a topic or list easier – the results list appears on the left side, while the selected item appears on the right.