Você está na página 1de 8

WESTLAW

Westlaw is one of the primary online legal research services for lawyers and legal professionals in the United States and is a part of West. In addition, it provides proprietary database services. Information resources on Westlaw include more than 40,000 databases of case law, state and federal statutes, administrative codes, newspaper and magazine articles, public records, law journals, law reviews, treatises, legal forms and other information resources. Most legal documents on Westlaw are indexed to the West Key Number System, which is West's master classification system of U.S. law. Westlaw supports natural language and Boolean searches. Other significant Westlaw features include KeyCite, a citation checking service, which allows customers to determine whether cases or statutes are still good law; and a customizable tabbed interface that lets customers bring their most-used resources to the top. Other tabs organize Westlaw content around the specific work needs of litigators, in-house corporate practitioners, and lawyers who specialize in any of over 150 legal topics. Westlaw was originated by West Publishing, a company whose headquarters have been in Eagan, Minnesota since 1992; West was acquired by Thomson Corporation in 1996. Several of Thomson's law- related businesses outside the United States have their own Westlaw sites, and Westlaw's international content is available at www.westlawinternational.com. For instance, Westlaw Canada from Carswell includes the Canadian Abridgment and KeyCite Canada, and Westlaw UK provides information from Sweet & Maxwell and independent law reports, case analysis and case status icons. More recently, Westlaw China was introduced, with laws and regulations, cases, digests, and status icons (similar to KeyCite flags), for the law of the People's Republic of China. In total, Westlaw is used in over 68 countries. Wests chief competitor in the legal information retrieval market is LexisNexis. Most customers are attorneys or law students, but other individuals can also obtain accounts. A credit card site http://creditcard.westlaw.com allows anyone with a credit card to retrieve primary law documents by citation. WestlawNext

West introduced WestlawNext on February 8, 2010. The main advances are that a user can start a search without first selecting a database, and the search screen allows one to click checkboxes to select the jurisdiction and nature of material wanted. A new search algorithm, referred to as WestSearch, claimed to be the world's most advanced legal research engine, executes a federated search across multiple content types. Users can either enter descriptive terms or Boolean connectors and select a jurisdiction. Documents are ranked by relevance. WestlawNext also supports retrieving documents by citation, party name or KeyCite reference. An overview page enables users to see the top results per content type, or to view all results for a particular content type. Filters can also be applied to refine the result list even further. On the results page, users can also see links to related secondary sources relevant to their research. WestlawNext also provides folders for storing portions of the research selected by the user. KeyCite KeyCite is a citation-checking service available on Westlaw. Verification of citations is necessary, because lawyers must determine whether a case has been reversed, overruled, or modified by a subsequent case before citing it in court. The United States judiciary operates under the principle of stare decisis a system of legal precedents to ensure the courts deliver consistent rulings on similar legal issues, regardless of the political or social status of the parties involved. As such, legal professionals must be certain that the legal citations they use to reinforce their arguments are accurate and still good law. KeyCite leverages Westlaw technologies, Wests attorney-authored case law headnotes and the West Key Number System to determine and immediately alert legal professionals that case law they are reviewing has been either overturned, or may have history which deems the precedential value of the opinion invalid. KeyCite was introduced to Westlaw in 1997 and was the first service to seriously challenge the Shepard's Citations, on which legal professionals relied for generations. Shepards had become such a necessary part of legal research, that citation checking is still informally referred to as Shepardizing. In 2004, KeyCite was determined to be the most-used citation checking service in an annual survey of law firm technology use conducted by the American Bar Association.

Associated software and websites WestCheck is software that may be used to extract citations from a word processing document and submit them to KeyCite or to Westlaw for retrieval of full text documents. The software consists of a standalone program and word processor add-in, either of which may be used, and there is a web site, westcheck.com, that offers the same functionality. West also provides BriefTools, which replaces West CiteLink, and provides citation checking and file retrieval services within a word processing document. Another version only inserts Westlaw links into documents. West CiteAdvisor formats citations and creates a table of authorities. Like WestCheck, it is available online at http://citeadvisor.westlaw.com, or as software for a word processor. Westlaw CourtExpress, http://courtexpress.westlaw.com, allows searching of court docket information. Westlaw Watch, http://watch.westlaw.com, allows users to manage periodic monitoring of news and other databases for topics of interest. Westlaw WebPlus on lawschool.westlaw.com provides a web search engine with a focus on legal information sites. The Westlaw Litigator Website, http://litigator.westlaw.com, provides access to legal calendaring and other litigation related applications. Key Number System The West Key Number System is a master classification system of U.S. law, and is claimed to be "the only recognized legal taxonomy." The West Key Number System was created by West Publishing Company and can be described as a highly detailed index of over 110,000 legal topics and sub-topics. The index serves as the backbone for legal information published by West, which appears in the companys print publications, and now on Westlaw.

Identity Theft Controversy In February 2005, after the ChoicePoint identity theft incidents became public, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) publicized the fact that Westlaw has a database containing a large amount of private information on practically all-living Americans. Besides widely-available information such as addresses and phone numbers, Westlaw also includes Social Security numbers (SSNs), previous addresses, dates of birth, and other information lawyers use to do background checks on behalf of their clients.[12] While there is no known case of identity theft involving Westlaw, the company responded to the controversy by announcing it had eliminated access to full SSNs for 85 percent of its clients who previously could retrieve this information, mostly lawyers and government agencies. History Both Westlaw and LexisNexis started in the 1970s as dial-up services with dedicated terminals. The earliest versions used acoustic couplers or key phones; then smaller terminals with internal modems. Westlaw's terminal was known as WALT, for West Automatic Law Terminal. Around 1989, both started offering programs for personal computers that emulated the terminals, and when Internet access became available, an Internet address (such as westlaw.westlaw.com) became an alternative that could be selected within the "Communications Setup" option in the client program, instead of a dial-up number. West's program was known as Westmate. It was based on Borland C++ around 1997, and then changed to a program compiled on a Microsoft platform that incorporated portions of Internet Explorer. This was the first program to incorporate HTML; prior to that, Westmate had "jumps" indicated by triangles instead of "links." Shortly after that, both publishers started developing web browser interfaces, with Westlaw's being notable for the use of "web dialogs," emulating the piling of open books on a table. Westmate was discontinued on June 30, 2007. Legal disputes In the mid 1980s, Westlaw sued LexisNexis over copyright infringement. LexisNexis's "star pagination" system, a feature which allowed users of either research system to find the printed page of a case without looking to the actual book, was found to infringe West's copyrights by the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota. After Lexis' appeals were turned down by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, the

company entered into an agreement with West to pay them $50,000 per year to license West's pagination and text corrections. No other publisher was offered similar terms, and the terms of the agreement were kept secret until they came out in discovery in the Mathew Bender / HyperLaw v. West lawsuit. In the mid 1990s, Alan Sugarman, who runs HyperLaw, sued West. The District Court in New York and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals held that West did not have copyright on the corrections it made on opinions or on the internal pagination.[17] The West Education Network (TWEN) TWEN is Westlaws online courseware that is specifically tailored for law schools.[18] It is basically an online extension of the classroom. Teachers use it to post syllabi, PowerPoint presentations, class materials and announcements. TWEN is also used for emailing, forum posting, live chats, polling and posting/submitting assignments.[19] (In terms of this range of functionality, TWEN is similar to other educational systems such as Blackboard, marketed by Blackboard Inc.). Law school professors occasionally use it for their classes, and it is also used by librarians and career services offices. Students can also create and manage their own courses for law reviews, journals and any student organization. WEST AMERICAN DIGEST SYSTEM The West American Digest System is a system of identifying points of law from reported cases and organizing them by topic and key number. The system was developed by West Publishing to organize the entire body of American law. This extensive taxonomy makes the process of doing case law legal research less time consuming as it directs the researcher to cases that are similar to the legal issue under consideration. Early digests The problem of finding cases on a particular topic was a large problem for the rapidly growing American legal system of the 19th century. John B. West, the founder of West Publishing, described this problem in his article A multiplicity of reports. To solve the problem, he developed a system with two major parts. First, his company published cases in many American jurisdictions in bound volumes called reporters (the

West National Reporter System now covers all state and federal courts). Second, he put together a classification system in which he divided the law into major categories which he called topics (such as "Contracts"). He then created hundreds of subcategories. To save space in printing, these were given a number called a key number. He then applied this "topic and key number" system to the cases he published. The key number is identified in the books with a key number and a key symbol graphic. How the Digest System works Each case published in a West reporter is evaluated by an editor who identifies the points of law cited or explained in the case. The editor places the summaries of the points of law covered in the case at the beginning of the case. These summaries are usually a sentence long, and are called headnotes. Each headnote is then assigned a topic and key number. The headnotes are arranged according to their topic and key number in multi-volume sets of books called Digests. A digest serves as a subject index to the case law published in West reporters. Headnotes are merely editorial guides to the points of law discussed or used in the cases, and the headnotes themselves are not legal authority. West publishes West's Analysis of American Law, which is a complete guide to the topic and key number system, and it is revised periodically. Print Digest In print, a digest works like an encyclopedia, in that the topics are listed in alphabetical order and printed on the spines. The "Descriptive Word Index" provides guidance as to the proper topics and key numbers. The digest system includes digests for the individual states (except for Delaware, Nevada and Utah). The U.S. Supreme Court, Bankruptcy Courts, Federal Claims Court, and military courts each have an individual digest, as well as their decisions being included in the Federal Practice Digest with the notes of decisions from the federal District Courts and Courts of Appeals. Digests are also published for West's National Reporter System. Specialty subject digests exist, such as the Education Law Digest, and the Social Security Digest. For nationwide research, about once a month, West publishes a General Digest volume, which incorporates classified digest notes from all reporters of the West National Reporter System. These are then cumulated

into a Decennial Digest. Decennial implies that this occurs every ten years, but in the past several decades, there have been Decennial Digest Parts I and II (the 11th Series now has Part III[1]), so the cumulation is now more frequent. However, the various Decennial Digests are not cumulated. Thus, completing such a search over several decades requires consulting the Decennial Digests, and then updating that work with the most recent series of the General Digest. Some of the state and topical digests are revised to include the first cases in the jurisdiction, while the spines of the books of some of the other digests indicate that they are from "1933 to date," for instance, indicating that one must consult a prior series for references to earlier cases. The state, federal, regional, and topical digests are updated by interim pamphlets, pocket parts, replacement volumes, or a new series. The Digest on Westlaw Researchers can also search the digest electronically using Westlaw: with the "Key Number Search Tool," which uses a word search to identify up to five key numbers, with the "Key Numbers and Digest" feature (browse by subject using an expandable tree - no search terms required), by a key number search using the "Terms and Connectors" method (with a known topic and key number - in the form of 134k261; topic 134 is Divorce and the key number is 261 for "Enforcement, In general"), by using the KeySearch feature (a menu of hierarchical links that automatically generates a search without the need to see the key numbers or the terms and connectors query), or by finding a relevant case using keyword searching and then using the key number hyperlinks in the document to find related cases. Most secondary sources published by Thomson West, such as Corpus Juris Secundum and American Jurisprudence, also have key number hyperlinks in their on-line Westlaw versions. The "Key Numbers and Digest" feature and the hyperlinks create a "Custom Digest." The Custom Digest allows:

selection of the jurisdiction of interest (so that headnotes from cases in that jurisdiction will appear in the results); limiting the time frame of the search; and adding additional search terms. Selecting key numbers and jurisdictions in the "Key Number Search Tool" results in a similar display of digest headnotes. Since all West headnote annotations are merged on Westlaw into a single database from which each Custom Digest is generated, there is no need to consult each separate series of the hard copy Decennial Digest. Full text of the cases may be accessed from the Custom Digest by clicking on the underlined case citation. The key number search or KeySearch will retrieve entire cases from a case law database. Other digest systems Other digest systems exist, including Butterworth's Digest[2] for the United Kingdom (also containing references to cases decided in other Commonwealth countries), the Canadian Abridgment,[3] digests associated with official state reports, such as in California and Wisconsin, and digests associated with topical reporters, such as the Uniform Commercial Code Case Digest. Most of these use a topic and section format, while some, like the U.C.C. Case Digest, use a section format based on the statute or rules being annotated. The A.L.R. Digest, accompanying the American Law Reports, formerly had its own classification system, but was replaced in 2004 by West's American Law Reports Digest, which follows West's topic and key number system.