Quick Guide to Using Lexis
prepared by Peter Murgatroyd, Law Librarian, University of the South Pacific
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.
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.
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.
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)
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
"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.
For example to find all opinions to find a case for which you know one party
name is Hughes, your search would be
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"
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.
and New Zealand Journal of Criminology (1994-)
ENGGEN;ALL ER All England Law Reports (1936-)
UKCURR;ALL Weekly summaries combined