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Legal Research Basics: Methods of Finding Statutes: Method 3: By Full Text Search

Guide to Statutory Research for LRW Students

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Keyword Search in Westlaw

Basic Search:

To search for a statute by keyword, enter any keywords into the main search bar and hit Search.  Optionally, you can limit your jurisdiction before hitting search, however this can also be done in the search results.  Your search results will default to an Overview, which is the top hits in several categories, such as Cases, Statutes, and Secondary Sources.  Select Statutes from the View list on the left.  Now you will be able to further reduce your number of results by using the Narrow options on the left.  You can narrow by jurisdiction (if you have not already done so) or by performing another keyword search, utilizing the "Search within results" box.  (Note: if nothing happens to your search results list as you add filters, look for an Apply Filters button.)

Advanced Search:

Advanced searching is available from the Advanced Search link to the right of the orange Search button on Westlaw.  You can use it to run more sophisticated search strings, such as Boolean searching, although this can also be performed in the basic search bar using the proper search connectors.

Note: Advanced search is considerably more powerful if you use it in connection with a specific collection in Westlaw.  For example, navigate to statutes first, then click the 'advanced search' link.  Advanced search allows you to add term frequency requirements to your search and to conduct field searching (locating your search terms in specific segments of the document).  

See the Search Strategies research guide for more information


Keyword Search in Lexis Advance

From the main search bar:

You can simply enter your search terms, click search, and filter your results.  Alternatively, there are a few pre-search filters you can apply, in particular by content type and jurisdiction.

Select Statutes & Legislation from the list of content types on the left to narrow your search results.  You can further narrow your results by filters such as jurisdiction or searching within results.

Keyword Search in Bloomberg Law

Using the GO bar:

In Bloomberg Law, most keyword searching is accomplished from the Go bar at the top.  Enter your search string, and watch for suggested searches to drop down.  Suggested searches will include All Legal Content, Citation Search, Court Opinions by Case Name, Dockets by Party Name, and News Search.  Once you select one of these searches, you'll get a list of search results.  From your search results, you can filter by content type and date.

(Note: these search results will not be in relevance order; with the exception of cases, Bloomberg Law search results always appear in reverse chronological order, so the results on top are not necessarily the most relevant results.)

Search & Browse tab:

Alternatively, you can search for statutes on Bloomberg Law using the Search & Browse tab.  You can select All Legal Content or a specialized search, such as Legislative.  You'll then be directed to a box where you can select a source to search, and below this you can enter your keywords.  Then hit the green Search button.

Legislative & Regulatory tab:

Finally, Bloomberg Law has a Legislative & Regulatory tab.  By clicking on this and selecting Search Legislative, you're doing the same basic thing that you've done under the Search & Browse tab, just streamlining the process to get right to the legislative sources.