While in law school, you may find the vast majority of the sources you need through the two main online legal platforms, Westlaw and Lexis. There is a reason why they are the leaders of the pack. They provide you with a comprehensive set of primary and secondary sources of law. But Westlaw and Lexis do not necessarily have every resource you may need. Listed below are three other key legal online platforms with a brief description of each platform’s unique content. Before you graduate, make sure to utilize and become familiar with these tools. If you have any questions about accessing or using them, please contact a reference librarian. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
For legal news, Bloomberg BNA Law Reports are the industry standard. There are over 100 different law reports, which cover a range of topics including: securities, patent, trademark, copyright, white collar, health care, environmental law, labor and employment, etc. Besides BNA Law Reports, Bloomberg BNA provides access to Bloomberg News which monitors the latest legal, regulatory, and industry developments. One of my favorite features of Bloomberg BNA is the dockets database. Only Bloomberg BNA searches both the text of the docket sheets as well as the retrieved underlying court documents. The dockets database is a great way to monitor litigation of interest and to identify sample court documents.
CCH is a platform that focuses on highly regulated areas of law. The database contains related cases, statutes, agency regulations, agency decisions, agency handbooks and guidance documents, editorial commentary, and legal news. Areas of law covered include securities, banking, antitrust and trade, corporate governance, products liability, secured transactions, and tax. If you end up practicing in one of these areas, this is a key platform for research and keeping current on the law.
Heinonine has cornered the market for legal history platforms. Compared with Lexis and Westlaw, whose coverage for many sources begins in the late 80s or early 90s, Heinonline contains volumes which often date back to the publications’ inception. For example, Heinonline contains every volume of the Congressional Record, the entire Federal Register and Code of Federal Regulations, volumes of the United States Reports that date back to 1754, as well as classic legal treatises from the 16th to 20th century. Unlike Westlaw and Lexis, Heinonline also carries the complete run of law review and law journals.