Resource Spotlight: PitchBook

Analytic tools have cropped up in many different fields, and while we normally focus on legal information resources, I’d like to highlight a business data platform recently licensed by NU: PitchBook*. PitchBook tracks startups, public and private equity markets, including venture capital, private equity and M&A. Data is systematically sourced by web-crawling and applied machine learning technologies, the results of which are reviewed by humans who verify accuracy and relevance. The content in PitchBook is extensive (see screenshot below) but easy to navigate, and thanks to robust filtering, you can efficiently narrow in on what matters to you. After logging in you’ll land on your dashboard, which contains news and industry data feeds based on what you’ve selected under the “Personalize” preferences: industries, verticals, deal types and locations. 

“Quick Counts” on the dashboard shows the enormous amount of compiled data in PitchBook.

You can search and browse in PitchBook. The quick search bar at the top is just that, quick access to what you know you’re looking for, while the advanced search initially acts like browsing and then helps you direct your search in more detail. Until you’re familiar with how information in Pitchbook is structured, I recommend using this feature so you learn how it’s organized and what the many categories contain.

Advanced search, the magnifier icon, initially acts like browsing.

As you’re clicking into different areas or trying to search the voluminous information in PitchBook, you’ll likely encounter unfamiliar terminology. Just like Westlaw, Lexis, and other academic databases, there’s an “i” icon next to certain fields (e.g. above the open text field on the industry page) that will provide you with more details pertinent to that specific field, such as the scope of what’s included, the functionality of that feature, or definitions. You’ll see this “i” icon when using advanced keyword searching. For example, see the screenshot below of “Ownership Status”. Clicking the “i” takes you to definitions of each type of status. This extra information will quickly guide you in more effective and accurate searching. Pro tip: check the “i” icons in any database when you see them; it usually takes less than a minute to review and has helpful information specific to what you’re doing.

“i” icon
Additional info from clicking the “i” icon

PitchBook has two powerful industry exploration tools to note: Emerging Markets and Market Maps.The Emerging Markets section flags new investment industries that have shown, or are highly likely to show, recent or continued growth. It also lists specific companies in their respective spaces. Market Maps are visual renderings of the companies in a particular industry organized by primary value proposition and then sorted (by default) by total amount of raised capital. These maps can be modified to fit your needs: narrow in on specific industry subsections, change the way the companies are grouped or sorted, exclude or add certain companies, switch from graphical to column display, change what columns are included, amongst others. You can use these maps to discover industry leaders or constituents and jump directly into that company’s detailed profile. Pitchbook company profiles also include non-financial metrics like employee count, social followers and website traffic to provide a full-context view of a company’s viability, market position, and future prospects. Alternatively, you can access all of the available profiles and reports from PitchBook analysts through the “Research Center,” found on the left pane navigation bar.

There are a few limitations imposed under our subscription that may affect your research. First, we do not have access to live training support; this includes the one-on-one support offered to other subscribers and webinars. We do have access, however, to on-demand video tutorials both within the platform (see “Help Center”) and from their full video library. Live chat support is also available. Second, there is a download limit: 10 lines of data/day and 25 lines of data/month. If you find this limit to be cumbersome, you are able to save searches, make lists (e.g. business development and marketing lists), add notes, and upload files since you’ve created your own account. This means any firm information, data, profiles, reports, annotations, and even your own external pertinent files can be consolidated and are only a quick login away.

Finally, if you want even quicker access to your personalized “My PitchBook” content, you can leverage the mobile app, Chrome extension, Excel plugin, daily newsletters, and alerts, all of which are available through our academic subscription. 

*When you’re off campus, be sure to activate Northwestern’s VPN before you pull up PitchBook. This is particularly important the first time when you create an account. Reference librarians are available to provide research support via chat and via email at law-reference@law.northwestern.edu if you have any questions. 

Posted in Library Resources, Resource Spotlight

Temporary Access to the Online Bluebook for Northwestern Law Students

Students at the Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law now have 60-day temporary access to the online edition of the Bluebook, accessible at https://www.legalbluebook.com.  For information on creating an account, check your Northwestern email inbox for an email from Jesse Bowman with the subject, “Access Key for Online Edition of Bluebook.”

If you have any questions about legal citation, legal research, or the law library, generally, feel free to email the librarians at their shared address, law-reference@law.northwestern.edu.  A librarian will also be available to help via chat from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Online Bluebook Homepage

The Bluebook

Posted in Instruction, Library Resources, Resource Spotlight, Uncategorized

Resource Spotlight: Lean Library

Northwestern University Libraries now subscribes to Lean Library, a browser plug-in that seamlessly brings our library resources into your workflow. The Lean Library browser extension makes it simple to access academic articles, journals and databases licensed by the Libraries while searching the web.

The extension works with our library to identify e-resources we subscribe to. Whether you search through Google, Google scholar, or the library itself, it’s easy to access our subscriptions. If you reach a paywall for an article or eBook, Lean Library will look for an alternative, legal option for access.

After downloading, the extension will notify you via an icon in the bookmarks bar when you’re on a website that we have a subscription for. If the icon is green, then you have access. A grey icon means that access is denied. If the material you’d like to use doesn’t seem accessible, Lean Library will automatically check for open access versions of the article.

To get started, Download the extension ⇨ Select our institution ⇨ Start researching

Posted in Resource Spotlight

Resource Spotlight: Global-Regulation

Although there is no database that allows you to conduct a comprehensive keyword search across all laws from every country in the world in one place, Global-Regulation can at least help you efficiently run a search across laws and regulations from 95 countries at one time.

The laws and regulations available through this database are translated into English using machine translation. The machine translations enable you to conduct keyword searches across the text of these laws and regulations in English, but you should not rely on these translations for the basis of your legal arguments because machine translations may contain errors or be inaccurate.

However, Global-Regulation is still a valuable resource to assist with identifying whether legislation on a specific topic exists in certain countries and can help save you time with “survey-like” or comparative law projects, such as if you need to collect domestic laws on a particular subject from several foreign countries. Coverage in the database is currently at 95 countries with varying levels of depth of coverage for each country.

Within a result, the “Show Original” link will show the text of the law or regulation in the original language as a side-by-side comparison with the machine-translated English version.

Laws and regulations from the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and other selected countries include direct links to where a PDF copy of the law or regulation is available through one of the country’s official government websites.

If a direct link for a law or regulation is not available through Global-Regulation, you can easily use the citation provided by this database to retrieve a copy of the law from the country’s legislature website.

Give this database a try the next time you work on a project involving foreign legal research!

Posted in Resource Spotlight

HeinOnline’s U.S. Presidential Impeachment Library

Keeping track of the ongoing impeachment process in the U.S. House of Representatives requires that we process constant references to a whistleblower complaint, subpoenas, witness statements and testimony, and committee procedural rules.  A tremendous resource for reviewing these documents is the U.S. Presidential Impeachment Library, available to members of the Northwestern University community at http://turing.library.northwestern.edu/login?url=https://heinonline.org/HOL/Index?collection=presidentsimp.

HeinOnline Impeachment Library Image

HeinOnline’s U.S. Presidential Impeachment Library

The landing page for this database provides links to impeachment materials categorized by President, as well as a brief, but informative, history of presidential impeachment in the United States.  Upon clicking the link for “Donald Trump,” we arrive at a page with links to a pair of resources. The first, “Impeachment Process in the House of Representatives (R45769),” is a digestible, 17-page report published on October 10, 2019 by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.  The second, “Whistleblower Complaint on Ukraine,” leads to an extensive collection of documents, listed in reverse chronological order, related to the ongoing impeachment investigation. These documents are available either as downloadable PDFs or via external links to congressional websites.  In addition to browsing the list for a particular document, it’s also possible, using the “Search this title” box, to locate document containing particular phrases or terms.

In addition to serving as a useful resource for understanding the ongoing impeachment investigation of President Trump, the U.S. Presidential Impeachment Library is also a superb tool for learning about previous presidential impeachments, as well as the process, more generally.  Indeed, the collections relating to Presidents Johnson, Nixon, and Clinton each contain troves of primary documents. Moreover, the “Scholarly Articles” tab offers a vast collection of law review articles dealing with the topics of impeachment and presidential power.  Usefully, this collection is both searchable and sortable by date or number of citations.

If you’re interested in locating primary documents relating to the current or past presidential impeachments, or if you’re hoping to take a step back and review scholarly discussions of the topic, we recommend taking a look at this excellent resource.

Posted in Library Resources, Resource Spotlight, Uncategorized

Resource Spotlight: Native American Treaties from HeinOnline

Too often, a library, a legal research vendor, or even Google will digitize something, put it somewhere online, and call it accessible.  But anyone who has ever struggled to find something online knows that simply existing somewhere on the internet does not mean something is accessible.  The most valuable research resources are designed with features to help guide users and assist in search.  The addition of Native American treaties to Hein’s American Indian Law Collection is an example of a research vendor adding features that make material truly more accessible.

Hein’s U.S. Treaties and Agreements Library already contains a work with the unassuming title, “Indian Affairs Laws and Treaties.”  This multi-volume work contains a compilation of treaties concerning American Indians by Charles Kappler, the clerk of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.  Commonly known as “Kappler,” this index has been the best source to access treaties and laws affecting the native nations.  But you kind of had to know that it existed.

Kappler’s was available in the U.S. Treaties and Agreements library, which lumped that title in with every other treaty in the library.  A researcher looking for American Indian treaties would have to either: search across the U.S. Treaties and Agreements library and weed out things that are irrelevant, or know to go to Kappler’s.

But now Hein’s American Indian Law Collection has a comprehensive list of 418 American Indian Treaties, most with full text.  It includes nine that were missing from Kappler’s famous compilation.  It gives the name of the tribe, subjects, a description of the treaty, and who the signatories were.  A librarian, Susan Galtier, worked hard to make sure that the treaties had metadata that let them be found and understood.

I think possibly the most interesting thing is the ability to see all of the treaties with one tribe organized together.  The search possibilities are also great.  You can narrow your search to pertain to a particular tribe.  You can search for different subjects across agreements.  You can combine those two. You could search for treaties tagged as being about “mineral resources” that involve the Creek Nation.

Were those treaties already available on HeinOnline?  Yes.  In fact, they’re also both in the Statutes at Large on Hein.  But putting this information in its own area, tagging it with relevant information, and putting it with related things aids in finding information and comprehending what you find.  Well done, Hein!

For other information on researching American Indian law, please see our research guide to American Indian Law Resources.

Posted in Uncategorized

New Exhibit on the Chicago Eight Conspiracy Trial

This year marks the 50th anniversary of one of the country’s most controversial cases, the Chicago Eight Conspiracy Trial.

In late August 1968, the city hosted the Democratic National Convention at the International Amphitheatre, which was located on the south side. This was a tumultuous time in America; Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert “Bobby” Kennedy had been assassinated that same year, and the country was in the middle of a very controversial war in Vietnam.

Activists saw the Democratic National Convention as an opportunity to protest the War and their leaders. They filed for permits to protest in the city’s parks, but most were denied; instead, they were granted one rally at Grant Park and an 11 o’clock nightly curfew. Because of these restrictions, riots erupted in the parks and the streets, leading to violence between the police and protestors.

Sixteen men were held responsible for this disaster: eight police officers and eight protestors. None of the police officers received any punishment—either their charges were dropped or they were cleared in court. The protestors, on the other hand, had became co-defendants in a long, messy trial.

This exhibit presents the chaos of the Chicago Eight Conspiracy Trial through the lens of three courtroom sketch artists: Andy Austin, Franklin McMahon, and Verna Sadock. Each has a unique artistic style that brings to life the characters and events that ensued.

Special thanks to Andy Austin, Robert Hirsch, Margot McMahon, and the Chicago History Museum for their contributions. This exhibit will be on display for the next several months on the third floor of the Pritzker Legal Research Center.

If you have any questions, please contact Brittany Adams, the Special Collections, Digitization, and Archival Services Librarian.

Posted in Uncategorized

Open Reference Hours for CLR Research

Are you working on your CLR open memo and feel like you’re stuck? Are you finding no results? Too many results? Research librarians are available to answer questions from students working on their CLR assignments.

Note, as much as we love research (and we do!) we can’t do the research for you.  But if you have specific questions about strategies or sources that we discussed in class, librarians are here to help.

We will hold open reference hours on Tuesday, October 29 from 1:00 – 3:30 pm in L203.  If you can’t make the open reference hours on 10/29, you can request a research appointment with a librarian.

Posted in Events

Resource Spotlight: Author Profiles in HeinOnline

HeinOnline has recently enhanced the Author Profiles available in their Law Journal Library (LJL). When Author Profiles first debuted, they allowed viewers to see all articles authored by the subject of the profile and included or indexed within the LJL. Viewers could also quickly see the number of citations (in both articles and cases), the number of times articles had been accessed in the past year, plus other metrics. While initial profiles were created by algorithm, authors (or their institutions) could “claim” their profiles and enhance them (with, perhaps, profile photos, social media links, etc.).

HeinOnline has recently added an “Explore This Author” link, currently in beta release. Explore This Author allows viewers to drill down into an author’s corpus to see, among other things, other authors frequently cited to, authors who frequently cite the subject’s works, topics frequently the subjects of the author’s works, and more.

To learn more about Author Profiles, see the HeinOnline blog post, “Everything You Need to Know About Author Profile Pages.” To read more about “Explore This Author” and other recent enhancements, see the post, “New Feature Alert! Improved Author Profiles in HeinOnline.” All HeinOnline blog posts tagged with “Author Profile Pages” are available here.

Posted in Library Resources, Resource Spotlight, Tech

Resource Spotlight: Courtlink in Lexis Advance

Within the Lexis Advance platform you’re already accustomed to using, you will now find Courtlink, which has previously been a separate Lexis product (and platform) excluded from our academic subscription. Courtlink allows you to search across dockets and court documents from all state and federal courts. Within Courtlink, there are also five categories of analytics called Strategic Profiles available: Litigant, Attorney/Law Firm, Judicial, Court, and Nature of Suit. So, what does all this give you?

Courtlink allows you to perform a keyword search across dockets, in documents, or both and customize jurisdiction. It also allows you to search by docket number, litigant, attorney, law firm, or judge. Once you have your search results, you can leverage the dynamic filters (to the left of your results) to further narrow in on pertinent items. Cause of action and case status are particularly helpful for finding a pleading or case of the same nature from an active or recently closed case. Also, because of the integration into the Lexis Advance platform, Courtlink is now more easily accessible from the square icon menu in the top left corner (it looks like a Rubik’s™ cube; see above). You can flip between Lexis Advance for your substantive legal research and Courtlink to pull court and litigation data without managing separate platforms. Courtlink has the familiar navigation, feel, and features of Lexis Advance’s design and interface, including filters, saving favorites, search syntax, algorithms, and search within results box.


When Courtlink opens, it defaults to the search page (see above), but there is a “Strategic Profiles” tab to access this useful analytics tool. You can create a profile for a litigant, attorney or law firm, judge, court, or nature of suit.

These profiles have different data points and will by default populate all that are available for that type of profile. For an attorney the fields are nature of suit, clients represented, representation capacity, case list, and caseload, but for a litigant it includes court, law firm, nature of suit, jurisdiction, case list, judgment, and case trend. These fields are customizable. If you create a strategic profile of a judge, for example, the profile will include data on the cases the judge has heard (what kind, how many of that kind, etc.), how she has decided, and which attorneys or law firms have appeared before the judge. See below for Judge Ruben Castillo’s profile and nature of suit analysis. The profile has different tabs to show the data sets with the “Profile Report”, essentially a summary, displaying first. The charts are interactive and hovering over a slice will tell you the percentage of each type of case, and from the corresponding table, you can click into a further breakdown of the judge’s case load, decisions on particular pleadings, etc. Finally you can save profiles you’ve built under your login.

Those are some of the key features and positives of Courtlink. What are the drawbacks? Notably, you cannot use the docket tracker function (Courtlink Tracks) with our academic subscription. This feature would generate an email notification when there was a change to a particular docket, like the federal docket tracker function in Bloomberg Law. Your alternative is to  set up search alerts; however this would be a notification for new results of a saved search and not monitoring a particular docket. Courtlink is missing some features that would make the user experience more convenient, such as being able to pull documents directly from dockets instead of search results. This is another feature that is available within Bloomberg Law for  federal court records.

Although Lexis notes that Courtlink contains 226 million court dockets and documents, Cook County Criminal Court records are not included. How is that possible? It’s a good reminder that Courtlink relies on the availability of electronic records from courts. Even today there is still a wide variation of coverage between state courts. Adding to that limitation, it’s not possible to request the retrieval of a paper document from the court, called a “Runner” in Courtlink, with our subscription. So the upside is that you have access to dockets and documents from all state and federal jurisdictions, while the downside is there will be holes in the coverage depending on the degree to which that court is making their records publicly available, or not. Since the Cook County Clerk of Circuit Court has not made criminal court records electronically available online, they are not in Courtlink either. To see what information is covered from a court, login to Courtlink and scroll down. Click the link to “Court Information” for descriptions of included content for all jurisdictions. If you plan to use Courtlink regularly, get to know the limitations of availability for any of the courts you want included.

If you curious to see Courtlink in action, watch a few of the short tutorials Lexis has posted online: https://www.lexisnexis.com/en-us/support/courtlink/default.page

Posted in Resource Spotlight