Category Archives: Legal Research & Writing

Fastcase on HeinOnline







In addition to its incredible collection of law reviews, congressional documents, and international materials, HeinOnline now offers case law via Fastcase.   You can also save and bookmark cases by creating a MyHein account, making access to favorite cases quick and easy. All HeinOnline content is available to Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law students on campus or remotely with your ASURITE.

Case law coverage in HeinOnline includes the judicial opinions of the Supreme Court (1754-present), Federal Circuits (1924-present), Board of Tax Appeals (vols. 1-47), Tax Court Memorandum Decisions (vols. 1-59), U.S. Customs Court (vols. 1-70), Board of Immigration Appeals (1996-present), Federal District Courts (1924-present), and Federal Bankruptcy Courts (1 B.R. 1-present). The state case law covers all fifty states, with nearly half of the states dating back to the 1800s. Coverage for the remaining states dates back to approximately 1950.

Economic and Banking Data from FRASER

Have you heard of FRASER?  The Federal Reserve Archival System for Economic Research is a data preservation and accessibility project of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and the U.S. Government Publishing Office.  The website provides access to a variety of resources containing economic and banking data, including:

  • Publications of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
  • Publications of District Federal Reserve Banks
  • Statements and speeches of Federal Reserve policymakers
  • Archival materials of Federal Reserve policymakers
  • Economic data publications
  • Statistical releases
  • Congressional documents
  • Books
  • Reports by various organizations

You can browse resource by title and date, as well as perform keyword searches.  To learn how to fully utilize FRASER, read through the website’s How to Use FRASER page.

HeinOnline On the Go

Hein app

A new app is available for HeinOnline!  The app allows you to view the database’s image-based PDFs, access content by citation, browse by volume, navigate a volume with the electronic table of contents, and use full advanced searching techniques on an iPhone or iPad.  The app can be downloaded from iTunes. HeinOnline has also created a User’s Guide to maximize your use of the app.

Note on access:  ASU utilizes IP authentication for students, faculty, and staff access to HeinOnline, so in order to IP authenticate using this app, you must be on campus. After you IP authenticate via the app on campus, the authentication will be good for 30 days.  After 30 days you will need to once again authenticate on campus.

Indigenous Law Portal Makes finding Tribal Law Easier

Tribal law can be difficult to find for a variety reasons: individual tribes may not have the resources to publish their laws, may choose not to make them available electronically, or even may restrict outside access to their laws.  The new Library of Congress Indigenous Law Portal helps researchers find difficult-to locate tribal law materials by bringing together digitized historic Library of Congress resources with current resources available on tribal websites.  The Portal can be both searched and browsed by geographic region, state, and tribe name.

In addition to this new Portal, when researching tribal law be sure to also consult the Ross-Blakley Law Library’s Indian Law Portal which contains resources such as a listing of Arizona Tribal Law Sources, a listing of Tribal Law for Tribes Outside Arizona, a Federal Indian Law Research Guide, and an International Indigenous Law Research Guide.

Free Access to Historical Federal Legal Resources

The Library of Congress and HeinOnline recently announced a unique partnership that makes historical U.S. legal materials now available on the Library of Congress’ web portal, the Guide to Law Online.  While federal materials dating back to the mid-1990s have long been available for free through FDsys, the release of these materials by HeinOnline fills the access gap to the historical documents; generally, the content for each publication extends from its first print edition to the year when free access on FDsys begins.

The newly available content includes:

Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law community members have access to the complete HeinOnline: The Modern Link to Legal History database, which includes all the federal materials listed above as well as significant additional content such as:

  • Law Journal Library
  • American Indian Law Collection
  • Canada Supreme Court Reports
  • Code of Federal Regulations
  • Early American Case Law
  • English Reports
  • Federal Register Library
  • Foreign & International Law Resources Database
  • Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals (IFLP)
  • Pentagon Papers
  • Revised Statutes of Canada
  • Session Laws Library
  • State Statutes: A Historical Archive
  • Subject Compilations of State Laws
  • United Nations Law Collection
  • U.S. Attorney General & Department of Justice Collection
  • U.S. Code
  • U.S. Congressional Documents
  • U.S. Federal Agency Documents, Decisions, and Appeals
  • U.S. Federal Legislative History Library
  • U.S. Presidential Library
  • U.S. Statutes at Large
  • U.S. Supreme Court Library
  • U.S. Treaties and Agreements Library

A New Tool for Online Legal Research – Ravel Law

Ravel Law is a new and innovative (as well as free) online legal search, analytics, and visualization platform that provides access to U.S. Supreme Court and federal Circuit Court case law.  What makes ravel so original is that it displays case search results in both list format (like WestlawNext, LexisAdvance, and Bloomberg Law) as well as in visual graphic format.  The visual display of search results has two elements: (1) a timeline of search results that shows which years had the most cases that fall under a search, and (2) a timeline that represents cases using circles of various sizes – the size of the circle indicates the importance of the case (based on number of citations).  This graphical display shows trends in cases over time and also makes it easy to see how cases relate to each other.  Ravel claims that in comparisons with traditional legal research tools, its unique “visual tools and robust analytics” cut research time by up to 70%.

Below you can see the graphical result for the case Katz v. United States (389 U.S. 347).



Ravel Law for Law Students
Anyone can run a search on Ravel Law, but it’s best to create an account as this will allow you to annotate and save cases to return to later. Ravel also offers a Premium account for free to law students.  The Premium account offers access to federal district court cases (1933-present) and state cases (1950-present) in addition to U.S. Supreme Court and Circuit Court opinions.

The Case for Losing the Laptop

It is standard practice in law school to take notes in class on your laptop, but new research indicates that taking notes by hand can help you learn better and retain more information. Psychologists Pam A. Mueller of Princeton University and Daniel M. Oppenheimer of the University of California-Los Angeles conducted the study behind this research and found that students who used laptops in class, even as intended and not for buying things on Amazon, performed worse academically than students who took notes by hand.  Mueller and Oppenheimer hypothesize that the reason for this is that laptop use affects the manner and quality of note taking. While laptop users tend to take notes mindlessly, recording everything the professor says, handwrites are more selective with what they write down – they process the material as it is delivered and select the most important content to record.  Mueller and Oppenheimer state that “whereas taking more notes can be beneficial, laptop note takers’ tendency to transcribe lectures verbatim rather than processing information and reframing it in their own words is detrimental to learning.”

With this information in mind, and as you prepare over Fall Break for the remaining eight weeks of the semester before exams, it may be worth reevaluating how you approach taking notes in class.  Read Mueller and Oppenheimer’s article on their research, The Pen Is Mightier than the Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking, published in the journal Psychological Science.  Author Patrick E. McLean also offers a (much more poetic) take on why handwriting is beneficial: A Defense of Writing Longhand.

Free Digital Copies of the Federal Rules

Thanks to the Legal Information Institute at Cornell University Law School and the Center for Computer Assisted Legal Instruction’s eLangdell Press, you can download the current versions of the Federal Rules of Evidence, Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, and Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for free.  The books are available in .epub format, which is compatible with most e-readers including iPads, Nooks, and Android devices.

Here are direct links to each book:

2015 Federal Rules of Evidence
2015 Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure
2015 Federal Rules of Civil Procedure

Supreme Court Decisions Are Not as Final as You Think

A new study from Harvard Law professor Richard J. Lazarus has revealed that the Supreme Court Justices routinely make changes to Court opinions that extend beyond fixing typographical errors and spelling mistakes.  In fact, Lazarus asserts that the Justices “correct mistakes in majority and separate opinions relating to the arguments of the parties, record below, historical facts, relevant statutes and regulations, opinions of their colleagues, and Court precedent.  The Justices also, even more significantly, sometimes change their initial reasoning in support of their legal conclusions.”  This is major news, because while every Supreme Court opinion contains the formal notice that “this opinion is subject to formal revision” when it is first published, the public is generally not aware of this practice.  Even more concerning is the fact that the Justices rarely announce any changes that are made, and according to Lazarus, “deliberately make it hard for anyone to determine when changes are made.”

Exposing the changes
In response to this practice, David Zvenyach, a lawyer and coder, has created a tool that flags and publicizes changes made to Supreme Court opinions after their publication.  When Zvenyach’s code detects a change to slip opinions posted on the Supreme Court’s website it sends a message to the Twitter account @Scotus_servo, which tweets out an alert.  Zvenyach also tweets about any detected change.

You can read more about the clever piece of code that exposes hidden changes to Supreme Court opinions in this Gigaom article as well as read about the ramifications of changing language in Supreme Court opinions in the New York Times article Final Word on U.S. Law Isn’t: Supreme Court Keeps Editing.

Summer Use of Westlaw, LexisNexis, and Bloomberg Law

Your Westlaw password will remain active over the summer for a limited number of research hours.  Westlaw does allow full summer access for the following permissible uses:

  • Law school class
  • Law Review or Journal work
  • Moot Court work
  • Project for a Professor
  • Unpaid, nonprofit public-interest internship/externship pro bono work required for graduation

To extend your Westlaw access
Eligible students will need to register for a password extension and must agree to only use their password for permissible purposes.  To register for a password Summer Extension visit

Access to Westlaw for graduates
Graduating students can register for the Westlaw Grad Elite Extension Program that will extend their access to WestlawNext and Westlaw Classic through November 2014 to prepare for the bar exam.  To register for the Grad Elite Extension visit

If you have any questions please contact our Westlaw Academic Account Manager, Kristen Knepper, at

You will have unlimited access to your Lexis Advance account over the summer for any use, including paid positions.

Access to Lexis Advance for graduates
Graduating students can register for a Lexis Graduate Program ID that will extend their access through December 2014 to prepare for the bar exam. To register, visit

If you have any questions please contact our Account Executive, Dana Shimo, at

Bloomberg Law
You will have unlimited access to your Bloomberg Law account during the summer for any use, including paid positions.

Access to Bloomberg Law for Graduates
Graduating students will have unlimited access to Bloomberg Law for six months after graduation.

If you have any questions, please contact our Bloomberg Law representative, Will Thompson, at