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First-Year Student Research & Study Guide: Online Legal Research Overview

A guide to help UC Hastings law students successfully manage their first year courses and legal research assignments.

Online Legal Research Overview

First-Year Hastings students will get individual passwords to all three of the main online legal research services through their LW&R classes. 

The thee main online research resources used by law students and lawyers are Westlaw, Lexis & Bloomberg. These resources allow for more powerful and focused searches compared to Google. Which resource you use all depends on your personal preference and in part on the features and resources offered. However, you want to be familiar with all of them because you do not know which of these resources you will need.  Some firms subscribe to all three reources, but nmany have exclusive contracts with one of the three research resources. 

If you have any questions about how to use Westlaw, Lexis or Bloomberg contact any of the Hastings Reference Librarians at the Hastings Reference Desk.  

For specific research assistance you can also contact dedicated Hastings representatives.

  • Westlaw is one of the primary online legal research service for students, lawyers, and legal professionals.  It provides access to cases, statutes regulations and proprietary database content. Westlaw provides easy access to case law, state and federal statutes, administrative codes, newspapers, magazine articles, public records, law journals, law reviews, treatises, and legal forms. The information obtained from the Westlaw databases is reliable, and the KeyCite feature allows you to check if the law is still current.
  • Difference Between Westlaw and other legal research resources


LexisNexis - legal research database called LexisAdvance.

  • Through the integration of information and technology, LexisNexis uniquely unites proprietary brands, advanced Web technologies and premium information sources. Across the globe, LexisNexis provides customers with access to billions of searchable documents and records from more than 45,000 legal, news and business sources.
  • What does LexisNexis do?
  • About LexisAdvance

Bloomberg Law

  • With Bloomberg, you no longer have to search for a case in one place, look for analysis and commentary in another, then hunt down the day's business news - and hope you have found everything. With Bloomberg Law, it is all presented in one place and seamlessly delivered - with every user having the same unrestricted, unlimited access to all the content in the database.
  • In addition, Bloomberg has the largest set of Dockets.
  • About Bloomberg Law