TRUMAN STATE UNIVERSITY Pickler Memorial Library Truman State University

LexisNexis Legal Research Guide

I.  Access:

      LexisNexis Academic is a subscription based full-text index service. From its main page, choose Legal Research.

      LexisNexis Legal Tutorial Movie

II. Search cases when you know the case name or legal citation

    On the Legal Research page, choose Get a Case. You will have 2 search options: search by name (which is the default search option), or search by citation.

    You can enter the case name, such as New York Times v. Tasini.  If you are not sure about the order, whether it is New York Times v. Tasini or Tasini v. New York Times, it does not matter.  Either one will bring you the case.

    If you want to search by legal citation, click the circle after Citation to select this option, and enter the legal citation.  Here are some examples of legal citation:
418 U.S. 683
121 S. Ct. 2381
118 L. Ed. 2d 381
1992 U.S. LEXIS 2322
(Tip: you must enter the exact legal citation, including the periods or dots.)

    Note: When searching under Get a Case by either case name or legal citation, you don't have to know the court information (whether it was Supreme Court, or other federal courts, or a state court).

III. Search cases on certain topics without knowing name or citation

    Select either Federal Case Law or State Case Law on the Legal Research page. This means we cannot search cases of all kinds of courts at one time, though we can do it on Get a Case page when we know the name or citation.

    On the default Basic search mode, you will see 2 keyword boxes, a court box and some date boxes.  You may want to change the default court or date.  If you are not sure about the date, you may want to select all available dates.  Your keyword search in the Basic search mode will search the entire text of cases.

    If you select Guided Search mode in either Federal or State case law, you can limit your keyword search to certain fields of the case texts.  The default is full text (the entire case), but you can see these options if you click the arrow to pull down:

  • Plaintiff
  • Defendant
  • Judges
  • Opinion By: last name of the justice writing the majority opinion
  • Opinion Text: text of the majority opinion
  • Dissenting Opinion By: last name of the justice writing a dissenting opinion
  • Concurring Opinion By: last name of the justice writing a concurring opinion
  • Citation: The citation of the case location in a reporter or CITE on the LexisNexis Service
  • Counsel: names of the attorneys involved
  • Headnotes: Legal issues that are pertinent to the case, as provided by the court.
  • Syllabus: summary of the case

IV. Shepard's Citations: List latter references to a particular case. 

Can be used for:

  • tracing judicial history of a case
  • verifying the current status of a case to determine whether it is still good law or has been reversed, overruled, or diminished
  • finding later cases which have cited the main case, and providing research leads to other sources.
    To learn more about why and how Shepardizing and Shepard's Signals, check

V. Search law reviews (Select Law Reviews on Legal Research page)

    To start a simple keyword search, simply enter your keyword(s) in the first box.  You may leave the second box open

    The default date is previous 6 months, you can make it longer or shorter, or choose a specific period of time

    If you want to limit your search to a certain law review journal, or search a specific article when you know the citation, click on the Source List link and find the journal.

    The atleast command.  When you search law reviews in Basic search mode, your keywords will search the entire texts of law reviews.  This may bring you some irrelevant results.  The atleast command allows you to narrow down the search to more relevant articles.  You can put your keyword within parenthesis and put atleast#  (# can be a number of your choice) before the parentheses.  e.g., atleast5(communication decency act).  By entering that in the keyword box, you want the keyword to appear in the record at least 5 times.  In this way, you may get fewer but better results. Note that there is no space between at and least and the number of your choice.  This atleast command also works in other files of LexisNexis Academic and other databases produced by CIS such as LexisNexis Congressional.  In the Guided Search mode for law reviews, you can choose to search certain fields (such as author or citation), or choose at least 3.

VI. Search Bills, Laws and Regulations

Bills: at LexisNexix Congressional (click Congressional on the left side of LexisNexis home)

Public Laws 1988+: at LexisNexis Congressional (old public laws at United States statutes at large in print or microfiche)

US Code: at both LexisNexis Academic and LexisNexis Congressional

Code of Federal Regulations: at both LexisNexis Academic and LexisNexis Congressional

State laws: at Academic Universe

US Code, public laws, federal regulations, Congressional bills, etc. can also be found through some free Web sites.  Check library's law Web page for free sites.

VII. Page numbers and citing references/bibliography

Unlike other publications in LexisNexis, court cases and law reviews have page numbers within brackets.  This allows them to be cited in the traditional way.  Note: Typically a case has several sets of pagination by different citations and they are differentiated by the different numbers of * in the bracket.  Be sure to know the one you are using and be consistent.

If you want to cite them as online resources, check Citing References under Help on LexisNexis page for examples and tips.

VIII. Save/print files found on the Web

   A. Save the entire file and read it in word processing software

  • click "File" in Windows and then "save as"
  • in "Drives" box choose right drive
  • in "Save File as Type" box choose "plain text"
  • when typing the file name, add ".txt" to your file name
  • click OK to save it
  • now you can open the file you saved in any word processing software
   B. Save/print part of the file
  • highlight the part you want to print or save
  • click "Edit" in Windows and then "Copy"
  • open any word processing software available (such as Notepad, Write, WordPerfect, or MS Word) and click "Edit" and then "Paste", you will get the part you need in the word processing software
  • print or save

IX. Alternatives of LexisNexis:

When you cannot access LexisNexis, good free Web sites for accessing legal information are and other free sites on library's law Web page

X. Exercise question for Media Law class:

You would like to know if there are federal laws, or regulations, or court cases about requiring TV programs to inform the viewers that political advertising is paid for by a certain individual or a group in political campaign.  Please come up with some possible sources to search on LeixsNexis and possible keywords to use.


Encouraging Discovery