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:

Posted in Resource Spotlight

Resource Spotlight: Librarians

Instead of highlighting a database this month in our Resource Spotlight, we thought that the beginning of the new school year was a great time to re-introduce our talented group of librarians.  From library administration to cataloging to research support, our librarians provide a wide range of services to the Northwestern Law community, often behind the scenes.  This month we would like to feature our librarians as our in-house resource.

George Pike is the Director of the Pritzker Legal Research Center and a Senior Lecturer at the Northwestern University School of Law.   He teaches legal research and intellectual property at the School of Law in both the J.D. and Northwestern’s innovative Master of Science in Law program.  Previously, Prof. Pike was Director of the Law Library at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, and held professional positions at the Lewis and Clark Law School and at the University of Idaho School of Law, and was a practicing attorney in Idaho Falls, Idaho.

ParkerEEric Parker is the Associate Director for Collection and Bibliographic Services.  He has been with Northwestern since 2003.  Eric received his B.A. from Cornell University, his M.A. in English Literature from University of Chicago and his M.L.I.S. from University of Illinois.


SommerJamie Sommer is the Associate Director for Public Services and oversees reference, instruction, faculty support, circulation and access services in the law library. She coordinates the research instruction for the Communication and Legal Reasoning courses and teaches Advanced Legal Research. In her free time she enjoys hiking, biking, kayaking and hanging out with her dog, Ziggy.

gaylord-e1566916939177.jpgTom Gaylord is the Faculty Services and Scholarly Communications Librarian. He is currently editor of Law Library Journal and enjoys travel, cooking, music, reading, and sports. He is father to one son, one Chihuahua, and, begrudgingly, a hedgehog. He received his B.A. from Illinois Wesleyan University, his J.D. from University of Illinois College of Law, and his M.L.I.S. from Dominican University School of Information Studies.

Lisa Winkler is the Clinical Services Librarian, serves as the designated liaison for the Bluhm Legal Clinic’s faculty, fellows, staff, and students, and provides proactive research, teaching, and reference support to the law school community. Her specialties include clinical legal education and legal technology trends, outreach, and legal research instruction. Lisa actively participates in several library associations, including the Association of College and Research Libraries, Chicago Association of Law Libraries, American Association of Law Libraries, and in 2018, presented at AALL’s annual national conference. Outside the library, Lisa enjoys chasing around her toddler Weston and orange and white tabby cat Wentworth.

Clare WillisClare Willis is the Research & Instructional Services Librarian, a role that helps plan and improve the library’s slate of learning opportunities from guest lectures to our Advanced Legal Research course.  Clare is teaching Advanced Legal Research this Fall and writing an article on the best practices for using hypotheticals to teach legal research.  Clare lives in Chicago with a husband, a rising first-grader, a rising toddler, and two ill-tempered cats.

Sarah Reis is the Foreign & International Law Librarian and also directs the International Team Project program. Sarah is a graduate of Northwestern Law and obtained her MLIS degree from the University of Washington’s law librarianship program. Sarah enjoys spending time with her black cat, Pepper, and is a huge fan of Premier League football and college basketball. She is looking forward to traveling to Australia and Greece this upcoming year for the International Association of Law Libraries conference and for ITP.


BowmanJesse Bowman is the Associate Law Librarian for Technology Initiatives and Instruction.  This is his sixth year at Northwestern, before which he worked at Valparaiso University Law School and the Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law.  Jesse teaches courses in both legal research and legal technology.  When he’s not working, Jesse enjoys visiting craft breweries and spending time with Willow, his one year old PBGV.

OConnellTerence O’Connell is the Catalog librarian. He prepares the records for the online library catalog. Terence attended the graduate schools at Loyola University Chicago and the University of Chicago. His hobbies include watching movies and reading Wikipedia entries.


AdamsBrittany Adams is the Special Collections, Digitization, and Archival Services Librarian at the PLRC. She handles all things old, but also enjoys dabbling in digital projects, such as web and graphic design. In her spare time, she’s obsessed with mysteries and true crime.


As a reminder, all full-time and visiting faculty member are assigned a library liaison—a reference librarian who will be their primary contact in the library. If you have any questions about research, resources or services that the library offers, please feel free to reach out to your liaison.  A complete list of liaisons and contact info is available on the library website.

Posted in Resource Spotlight

Position Available:Access Services Evening & Weekend Supervisor

The Pritzker Legal Research Center at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law seeks to fill TWO open positions for Access Services Evening & Weekend Supervisors.

This position performs a wide range of Access Services duties, including collection maintenance, faculty support, document delivery and digitization projects, material retrieval, student worker supervision and circulation desk duties. They often serve as the first point of patron contact in a library that prides itself on exemplary service.

The schedule for one position is Wednesday – Thursday 12:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.; Friday – Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m; Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
The schedule for the second position is Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.; Monday – Thursday 12:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

For full details and to apply, please visit the Northwestern Careers Website (search Job IDs 36795 and 36796)

Northwestern University is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action Employer of all protected classes, including veterans and individuals with disabilities. Women, racial and ethnic minorities, individuals with disabilities, and veterans are encouraged to apply. Hiring is contingent upon eligibility to work in the United States.

Posted in Position Available

Preparing for On-Campus Interviews? Try These Resources.

Are you participating in on-campus interviews at the law school? If so, take a look at our guide on researching legal employers, with links to useful resources for researching law firms, judges, major clients, and much more!

Guide to Researching Legal Employers

Guide to Researching Legal Employers

Posted in Employment, Library Resources, Resource Spotlight, Uncategorized

Student Library Assistant Positions Available for August & Fall Semester

The Pritzker Legal Research Center is looking for reliable law students to work at the library circulation desk in the evenings and on weekends during August and the upcoming fall semester. Duties include the following:

  • Check out and check in books, journals, reserve books and other library materials
  • Answer basic informational, directional and library policy questions, help patrons locate materials in the stacks, provide basic printer and copy machine assistance
  • Help troubleshoot public computers according to directions
  • Record and tally usage statistics
  • Search the stacks for books reported missing
  • Assist with opening and closing procedures

Interested students should send the completed application form and resume to James Driscoll, Circulation Services Manager.

Posted in Position Available

Resource Spotlight: Oxford Public International Law Resources

Next time you are working on a project that involves international legal research, consider using our Oxford Public International Law online resources. Our library now subscribes to the Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, Oxford Scholarly Authorities on International Law, and Oxford Reports on International Law.

Do you need to quickly familiarize yourself with a public international law concept? The Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law (MPEPIL) is a great way to obtain a surface-level overview of a concept. For example, say you want to get a sense of how the term “war crimes” is used in international law. You can consult the MPEPIL entry on war crimes as a starting point to get up to speed. Each encyclopedia entry includes a bibliography and list of relevant documents. If you see a “Find it @ NU” link next to a source, click on the link to easily connect to our library catalog to see your options for accessing the content.

Do you need commentary or in-depth analysis on a topic? Oxford Scholarly Authorities on International Law is a terrific go-to resource. Oxford Scholarly Authorities contains electronic versions of reputable books and treatises as well as various Oxford Handbooks. A complete list of all of the titles organized by subject is available here. For example, continuing with the same hypo mentioned above, if you now need to read an analysis of Article 8 (War Crimes) of the Rome Statute, you can access an e-book of Schabas’s The International Criminal Court: A Commentary on the Rome Statute (2d ed.) using this resource. Are you searching for case law from international courts and tribunals? Oxford Reports on International Law (ORIL) provides access to more than 5,500 case reports from international courts, domestic courts, and ad hoc tribunals. Most official websites of international courts and tribunals lack useful search functions, but this resource is text searchable and also allows you to browse case reports by subject. Each ORIL case report contains the full-text decision, a summary of the facts and holdings, analytical commentary, and a list of cases and instruments cited.

The Oxford Law Citator is a research tool available on each of these databases to help users easily find related items. If desired, you can conduct a search across all three of these databases simultaneously by searching across “Oxford Public International Law” using the search bar near the top of the screen.

You can access these databases and all of our other law databases using the Pritzker Legal Research Center’s A-Z Database List.


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Resource Spotlight: Lexis Context

For today’s litigators, analytics platforms are a useful tool, offering strategic guidance and a potential competitive advantage.  One such platform, available to members of the Northwestern Law community, is Lexis Context, accessible through Lexis Advance. In this post, we’ll walk through the content available on Context and consider some of its potential uses.

To access Lexis Context, first sign in to Lexis Advance, then click the “matrix” icon in the top-left corner of your screen, and, finally, select “Context.”  At this point, you’re able to enter the name of either (1) a state or federal judge or (2) an expert witness. For judges, Context provides detailed information for 100 types of motions, displaying your judge’s rates of granting, denying, or partially granting those motions.  Moreover, Context allows you to review your judge’s citation patterns, including which opinions and other jurists your judge cites most often in their opinions. Meanwhile, for expert witnesses, it’s possible to review a variety of helpful data, including how often an expert has been hired by plaintiffs versus defendants and how often they’ve appeared in particular types of litigation (e.g., trademark, antitrust, etc.).  In addition, you’re able to review the frequency, basis for, and outcome of challenges to admissibility of their testimony.

A screenshot from Lexis Context, displaying analytics pertaining to Judge Amit P. Mehta.

Using Context, let’s see what we can learn about Judge Amit P. Mehta of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.  Upon entering his name, we retrieve a graphical representation of his rulings on motions. Reviewing this display, we learn, for example, that Judge Mehta has ruled on 207 motions for summary judgment and has granted roughly 45% of these motions.  We could take this a step further and filter by practice area, allowing us to review how his rate of granting motions differs amongst various types of cases. Moving on to Judge Mehta’s citation patterns, we learn that he has cited Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009) more often than any other case, and also that he has cited Judge Judith W. Rogers of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit more often than any other judge.  Using filters, we can obtain more specific information; for example, in his rulings on motions for injunctive relief, Judge Mehta most frequently cites Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007).

Unlike other analytics platforms, which scrape data from case dockets and court filings, Context pulls information from judicial opinions.  This means that while Context relies upon a smaller universe of potential data, its content is uniquely accurate. How might this data be used?  When drafting a document for a particular judge, it enables you to cite cases and language that your judge has found persuasive in the past. Meanwhile, when deciding whether to hire a particular witness, it makes it possible to review their prior involvement in cases and to gauge the likelihood that their potential testimony will be admitted.

Whether you’re clerking for a judge, involved in one of the clinics, working in a litigation practice group, or simply interested in legal analytics, I recommend taking the time to explore Lexis Context.

Posted in Library Resources, Resource Spotlight, Tech, Uncategorized

Resource Spotlight: Citation trails in NUSearch

Legal researchers are highly attuned to the importance of knowing if and how an authority has been cited.  It’s the idea behind Shepard’s and KeyCite.  The importance of determining whether something is still good based on how it has been cited is drilled into every law student from their first semester.  Leaving aside issues of “good law,” Shepard’s and KeyCite are helpful for journal and law review articles because they show whether an article has been cited and help researchers find related articles.  That’s why it can be very frustrating for legal researchers when they are faced with a tool that does not show how an article has been cited.

That is why it is so great to see the little arrow icons in NUSearch, Northwestern library’s catalog.  NUSearch is the tool that helps you search across all of Northwestern’s physical and electronic collections.  NUSearch has a feature they call “citation trails.”  The system looks for citations to an article.  If it finds some citations, you’ll see something that looks like this:

citation trails

See those little arrows pointing out and down?  Clicking CitedByThisRecord_Icon brings you articles that are cited in this article.  It’s like the table of authorities in a Shepard’s report.  Clicking CitingThisRecord_Icon brings you articles that cite this article.  That’s like the citing references tab on Westlaw.

There are some drawbacks to using this feature in legal research.  All of the drawbacks relate to how this tool gathers information and who plays well with others.  The information in NUSearch comes from many different databases.  That’s how you’re able to search NUSearch and get results from JSTOR right alongside results from HeinOnline.  The citation trails tool only pulls citation information from certain databases that share information with the company that runs NUSearch.  The article that I used for the screenshot above is available through JSTOR so it has citation trails.  Most notably for legal researchers, results from HeinOnline do not have the citation trails feature.  This is very frustrating because HeinOnline results are included in NUSearch. The law library is exploring ways to get HeinOnline included in citation trails.

Citation trials are also not available for results from Lexis or Westlaw, but that’s not surprising because NUSearch doesn’t search Lexis and Westlaw.  Let’s just say Lexis and Westlaw like to do their own thing and leave it at that, shall we?

The upshot for legal researchers is that NUSearch is a great place to look for articles, especially when you’re moving beyond law into interdisciplinary research.  It will search across many databases without you needing to know the name of the database that has psychology literature, for example.  What’s better, NUSearch will have a citation feature like what you’re used to seeing with Lexis and Westlaw.  So look out for those little arrows the next time you’re researching!


Posted in Library Resources, Resource Spotlight

Student Library Assistant Positions Available for Summer

The Pritzker Legal Research Center is looking for reliable law students to work at the library circulation desk in the evenings and on Saturdays during the summer. Duties include the following:

  • Check out and check in books, journals, reserve books and other library materials
  • Answer basic informational, directional and library policy questions, help patrons locate materials in the stacks, provide basic printer and copy machine assistance
  • Help troubleshoot public computers according to directions
  • Record and tally usage statistics
  • Search the stacks for books reported missing
  • Assist with opening and closing procedures

Interested students should send the completed application form and resume to James Driscoll, Circulation Services Manager.

Posted in Position Available

Resource Spotlight: SCOTUS Research

The Pritzker Legal Research Center has created a new LibGuide: Supreme Court of the United States Research. The new guide includes links to and information about both primary and secondary resources for Supreme Court research, including opinions, dockets, oral arguments, current awareness blogs, and more.

For instance, one of the highlighted current awareness resources includes our own Professor Tonja Jacobi’s SCOTUS OA website, which provides detailed analyses and forecasts of Supreme Court opinions based on the oral arguments.

While the guide contains the most essential materials at this point, look for additional resources to be added in the near future.

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