PRATT SILS: LIS 626, Advanced On-Line Legal Research

Pratt Institute, School of Information and Library Science

Instructor: Visiting Assistant Professor Steven C. Perkins

Course Description

An in-depth examination of on-line services used to locate legal information. A significant proportion of time will be devoted to LEXIS-NEXIS. Additional time will be given to WESTLAW, LiveEdgar and the INTERNET. Prerequisites: LIS 605, LIS 617.

Textbook: Emanuel, Steven, LEXIS-NEXIS for Law Students, 3rd ed.. Larchmont, N.Y.: Emanuel Law Outlines.

Grading: You will be given 6 exercises and a Pathfinder assignment. Your grade will be based on the exercises, the Pathfinder and class room participation.


The Pathfinder will be a guide to researching a legal issue using LEXIS-NEXIS and the other sources we cover in the course of the class. A list of topics will be given out in class on November 18th. A sample pathfinder will also be available. The sources used will be confined to those available on-line.

Goals and Objectives:

  1. To gain an appreciation of the need for searching legal literature electronically.
  2. To be exposed to the wide range of electronic resources available.
  3. To gain a certain level of competence in searching in LEXIS.
  4. To compare the search language and strategies used in LEXIS with those used in WESTLAW.
  5. To gain an appreciation of the costs involved in electronic searchng of legal sources.
  6. To learn what those who have done research in the area feel as the advantages and disadvantages of on-line searching as compared to employing the paper tools.
  7. To learn what legal or law related databases are available through the INTERNET.

Course Sessions:

I. Introduction and review of legal research methodology. 2 weeks.

II. Preview of LEXIS. Handout LEXIS-NEXIS literature. FINDLAW and Cornell sites. 1 week.

III. LEXIS demonstration and training session. LOIS site. 1 week.

IV. Review of LEXIS session. Handout WESTLAW literature. Preview of WESTLAW. 1 week.

V. WESTLAW demonstration and training session. JURIST site. 1 week.

VI. Review of WESTLAW session. Discuss differences between LEXIS and WESTLAW. HEIROS GAMOS site. 1 week.

VII. LIVEEdgar demonstration and training session. 1 week.

VIII.Review of LIVEEdgar and INTERNET financial sites. SEC site. 1 week.

IX. Distribute Pathfinder topics. Review LEXIS appendices. 1 week.

X. Review Pathfinder requirements. LEXIS query formation, library selection and secondary legal authorities. 1 week.

XI. Cases, Statutes and Administrative Law. 1 week.

XII. Specialized topics and citators. 1 week.

XII. Hand in Pathfinder. Last Class. 1 week.


  1. Compare and contrast the services offered by LEXIS-NEXIS, WESTLAW-DIALOG, FINDLAW and LOIS. Search for librarian's personal liability for copyright infringement.
  2. Compare and contrast the services offered by the Legal Information Institute, JURIST and FINDLAW.
  3. Examine the Heiros Gamos site.
  4. Who was Orlando Letelier? Find a case about him. What is the citation for the Alien Tort Claims Act? Has anyone been prosecuted under the ATCA since 1995? Tell me how you answered each question.
  5. Where can you get Annual Reports on the INTERNET? Who are the five highest paid employees (names and salaries, etc.) of Apple, Microsoft and IBM? What is a 10-Q? Does Microsoft have a seat on the Apple Board of Directors? Tell me how you answered each question.
  6. Use DOGPILE and MetaCrawler to get information on a law firm or company. Describe the similarities and differences in the results from each service.

I am missing the following assignments:

D. Gerber,   #1,#2,#3
P. Marshall, #1,#2,#3,#6
G. Mondelas, #1 

I can be contacted by email at SPerkins@Andromeda.Rutgers.EDU and by telephone at 973-353-5965.