Introduction to case law
Case law consists of laws that result from court cases. You can find case law at the federal, state, and municipal levels.
Locate case law in Nexis Uni
- In the Nexis Uni database, use the Guided Search option.
- In the section, What are you interested in? select Cases.
- Select either Federal or State in the Which Jurisdiction? section. If you select state you will then be asked to enter the state, for example, California.
- Enter your topic in the Search in all Cases for section, for example, patient confidentiality.
- In the All Dates section, use the drop-down menu to change the dates as needed.
- Click Search.
Locate case law in Google Scholar
Google Scholar will also allow you to search case law. Please note that Google Scholar is limited to case law and may not provide direct history of a case. The following steps will walk you through the process.
- Go to Google Scholar.
- Under the search box select Case law and then click Select courts.
- A list will appear. You will have the option to select state and/or federal courts.
- If you know the specific court you need, check the box in front of that court. For example, if you need the California Supreme Court, only check the box in front of this court.
- With Federal circuit courts, you can focus on one state only by checking that state where it is listed under the appropriate circuit court. For example, you could check Maine under 1st Circuit to focus on Maine only.
- If you are not sure which court you need in a state or in a circuit court are, check the box in front of the state, or the box for the entire circuit court. For example, you could check California to search all the California courts, or check 9th Circuit to search all the 9th circuit courts.
- Scroll to the bottom of the page and click Done.
- Enter your topic in the search box at the top of the page, for example, therapist disclosures to clients.
- On the left side of the screen there are options to change the date range of the results, change the court or state you want to search, or change the order of your results from relevance to date order.