Some jobs, internships and externship will not allow you to use your student ID for research. You will have to use the Institution-assigned IDs, meaning that the sources available to your will be significantly limited compared to sources offered at law school. Most institutions will be most likely to subscribe only to only one of the three major databases—Lexis, Westlaw, or Bloomberg Law. They are also unlikely to subscribe to many additional multi-disciplinary databases like Hein Online or LoisLaw, unless the institution has an unusually broad funding or the materials offered by the database is particularly relevant to the area of law in which they work. Some may subscribe to only particular libraries from these databases, or to databases particularly relevant to their specialty. For example, business-oriented firms may need you to be proficient in business-related databases like Bloomberg or EDGAR.
You should also be familiar with the institution’s pricing plan for their principle electronic database (Bloomberg Law, Lexis or Westlaw), including which sources are included in the plan and the research pricing plan. Find out the following:
Does the institution’s plan include primary sources, secondary sources, or both?
Does it include Federal or California state resources, or both?
Does it include any treatises or practice guides (usually under Secondary Sources)?
Be aware that Secondary Sources— treatises, practice guides, and law journals— are costly and thus may be outside the institution or firm’s plan. If you use these electronically through Westlaw, Lexis or Bloomberg Law, you will get charged per document you pull.
However, the institution is likely to own major secondary sources in print. Many lawyers own only the treatises that the use most often for their particular area of law. For example, an intellectual property lawyer may own Nimmer on Copyright. In California, popular treatises include Rutter Guides and CEB guides, and Witkin’s Summary of California Law is an important general treatise. If you need background on the area of the law in which you work, the supervising lawyer or judge will expect you to do your initial research in print.
If you’re not sure where to start your research, you can do the following: