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:

Clinical Services Librarian

Posted in Resource Spotlight

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