Quick Guide to Using Lexis

prepared by Peter Murgatroyd, Law Librarian, University of the South Pacific

Introduction
Logging on
Sources
Searching using connectors
Segment searching
Displaying search results
*Additional selected sources of interest

Introduction

Lexis is the most comprehensive site for online legal research.  Lexis provides access to full text cases from the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States.  It also includes access to legislation, full text law review articles, indexes to journals and much more.  A good example of its usefulness is its holdings of all UK  reported caselaw since 1936 and the facility to keyword search this body of judgments.  Lexis also has extensive holdings of unreported judgments.   

Logging on

All law students and faculty at USP are able to access Lexis directly without needing a password.  Click on the Lexis link on the 'Law Resources' page of the library web.

Sources

 The Lexis group of databases has many many different groups of files. Often the most useful 'source' databases will be one of the 'last 20 sources' and you can go directly to one of these by clicking 'Go' on the search screen.

In order to go to  a specific source that is not in the 'last 20 sources' list however you need to  click on the 'Find a Source' button and enter the name of the source database you wish to search.  Please remember to click on the option 'Short form of sources' when using the shortened form of a source .  I have summarised some of the most useful sources below:

UK;ALLCAS    Full text search of all UK cases on Lexis .  This includes All England Law Reports but does not include the authorised ICLR Law Reports.

AUST; AUSLR    Combined Australian reported cases

NZ;NZCAS    Combined New Zealand reported cases

LAWREV;LRALR    Combined search of the law review collection (access to the full text of over 200 law reviews) and the full set of annotated American Law Reports.

UK;ALLJNL       Combined full text search of UK law journals published by Butterworths

AUST;AUJNLS    Combined full text search of Australian law journals published by Butterworths

STATES;OMNI   Full text search of all Courts from all states and ALR Annotations combined

NZ;NZCAS    Combined New Zealand cases

NZ;LONZ    Access to the full text of the legal encyclopedia 'Laws of New Zealand'

You can also browse the 'Source' databases by topic or jurisdiction.  Click on the 'Legal (excluding US)' option to browse common law databases from Commonwealth jurisdictions.

Locating copies of US decisions

If you have the citation of a reported US decision you can locate a copy of the decision by choosing the 'Get a Document' option at the top of the Lexis search screen.

At the next screen make sure the LexseeFormats option is checked and then enter the citation of the decision you are looking for eg to find the landmark US Supreme Court decision Roe v Wade you would type in the citation of the case as follows: 410 US 113 and press get. (*If you did no know the citation of your case but only the party names you will need to do a general search in the States;Omni database)

Searching using connectors

Use UNIVERSAL CHARACTERS in your search terms:

!        Litigat!         =  litigator, litgated, litigation, litigating

*       wom*m     = woman, women

         bank*** = bank, banker, banking

Use CONNECTORS to link your search terms together:

OR        Finds one or both terms in a document

              doctor or physician

/#        Finds two terms within a specified number of words

            damages w/5 quantum

/p        Finds two terms in the same paragraph

            fraud /p laundering

/s        Finds two terms in the same sentence

            liability /s damages

AND    Finds two terms in the same document

            nuclear and protest


Segment searching

"Segments" are the natural parts or divisions of documents.  For example all cases have an "opinion" segment.  You can restrict your search to certain segments of documents eg cases involving a particular party, or articles written by a particular person.  All segment searches in Lexis follow the same format:  Segment name, followed by the terms you are searching for in parenthesis.
Segment name (search terms)

For example to find all opinions to find a case for which you know one party name is Hughes, your search would be
name(Hughes)

Follow these steps to incorporate segments into your search request:

1.  Click "search" from the menu near the top of your screen

2.  Select a source in which to search

3.  Click "Restrict Search Using Document Segments"

4.  Select the segment(s) that you wish to include in your search request

5.  Click "search"

Displaying search results

You have three display formats from which to choose:

CITE - Displays the citations or bibliographic references of the documents retrieved by your search.  To view a particular document on the list, double click the highlighted area.

KWIC - (Key Words in Context) - Displays documents with a window of 25 words of text on either side of every occurrence of your search terms.  Use the KWIC format to see in what context your search terms are discussed.

Full text - Displays the full text of each document in your results.

*Additional selected sources of interest

AUST;ANZJC               Australia and New Zealand Journal of Criminology (1994-)
AUST;ABR                 Australian Bar Review (1994-)
AUST;AJCL                 Australian Journal of Contract Law (1993-)
AUST;AJCOR              Australian Journal of Corporate Law (1994-)
AUST;AJFL                Australian Journal of Family Law (1994-)
AUST;AJLL                  Australian Journal of Labour Law (1993-)
AUST;APLJ                Australian Property Law Journal (1994-)
AUST;AUJNLS          Combined Butterworths Journals
AUST;ACDRJ               Commercial Dispute Resolution Journal (1994-)
AUST;ACCLJ               Competition and Consumer Law Journal (ACCLJ)
AUST;AISL                   Insurance Law Journal (1994-)
AUST;ATLJ                  Torts Law Journal (1993-)

AUST;AULR                 Australian Law Reports (1973-)

CAN;CANJNL              Canadian law journals combined
CAN;CANLRV             Canadian law reviews combined
CAN;DLR                    Dominion Law Reports (1912-)

ENGGEN;ALL ER      All England Law Reports (1936-)

NZ;NZLR                      New Zealand Law Reports (1958-)
NZ;NZAR                       New Zealand Administrative Reports (1995-)

UK;EG
                        Estates Gazette (1991-)
UK;LSG                         Law Society's Gazette (1986-)
UK;NLJ                         New Law Journal (1986-)

UKCURR;ALL             Weekly summaries combined

[Library Home] | [USP Law Home]
Last Updated on: Monday, 16 July 2007