Have you ever noticed small bells, envelopes, or concentric semicircular lines when performing legal research? Those symbols can help you make sure that you’re up to date, and our new library guide, Keeping Current, makes it even easier to navigate the many ways databases and websites help you track developments.
The law is not a static creature, quietly collecting dust like an ancient tome on a shelf. It’s a hyperdynamic beast constantly reinventing itself as judges rule, lawmakers legislate, and scholars publish.
The Keeping Current guide provides instructions, including video tutorials (also at the bottom of this blog post), on how to make sure the law is not running away from you as you research.
The cases tab highlights many of the most familiar resources to legal researchers, including Westlaw and Lexis. What may be less familiar to researchers are the tools for keeping track of new developments in courtrooms across the country. In Lexis, for example, all it takes is ringing a bell icon and following prompts to have peace of mind that you’ll be informed of new developments that may change the legal landscape of your topic. Bloomberg Law provides a robust dockets database in which researchers can track cases working their way through the legal system. Signing up for alerts can inform researchers of new filings and ensure they don’t overlook bombshell developments.
Many of these same tools are useful for tracking statutes, but our Statutes and Regulations tab also includes government resources that help researchers stay on top of any bills that may be under consideration that could upend the legal status quo. Congress.gov helps researchers with federal developments, while researchers with more locally oriented tasks will find similar bill-tracking power through the Arizona State Legislature’s website.
The Scholarship tab goes far beyond traditional legal sources, providing ways to track new articles as they’re published in academic journals and new interdisciplinary resources as they enter the conversation in fields outside the law.
Finally, the RSS Feeds tab helps readers make use of the powerful alerting tool that requires an RSS reader but automatically delivers a bevy of useful information.
Keeping track of changes and thoroughly researching everything in one’s field is hard work, and sometimes a helping hand can come in handy. The Law Librarians are happy to discuss setting alerts, choosing topics to explore, and research strategies. Meet with a Librarian for expert advice from a JD-holding reference librarian.
Originally written by Andrea Gass