There are three key methods for locating relevant federal cases in print and online:
1. By citation or party name;
2. By subject using keywords or phrases; and
3. By subject using the headnotes in one good case.
This section outlines the resources available for finding federal cases in print and online. Following are sections on how to find federal cases using free websites and Westlaw Edge and Lexis Advance.
Case citations include the case name, volume, reporter, and page number where the case begins. For example, the proper citation for the Sarbanes-Oxley Act whistleblower opinion from the Anatomy of a Federal Case section of this unit is Lawson v. FMR LLC, 670 F.3d 61 (1st Cir. 2012). Once you have the citation for the Lawson case, you can locate it in volume 670, page 61 of the Federal 3d reporter.
In print, you can use the Descriptive Word Index to the Federal Practice Digest 5th to find West Topics and Key Numbers for federal cases like Lawson v. FMR LLC, that address the Sarbanes-Oxley Act's whistleblower provision. Lawson and other whistleblower cases are listed in the digest volume under the topic SECURITIES REGULATION, key number 35.14. The Federal Practice Digest 5th also includes Words and Phrases volumes that include federal court cases by jurisdiction that interpret the meaning of particular words or phrases, e.g. "whistleblowing."
You can search for federal cases by keywords and phrases using free websites and subscription databases like Westlaw Edge or Lexis Advance. When searching online for federal cases, consider limiting your search using Advanced search fields in the narrowest possible database, e.g., South Carolina federal district court or 4th Circuit cases instead of "All Federal" cases.
Headnote number 1 in the Lawson v. FMR LLC opinion below addresses the meaning of the word "employee" within the whistleblower statute of the Sarbanes Oxley Act. Headnote number 1 has been assigned the West topic Securities Regulation, key number 35.14. You can use that same topic and key number to find more federal cases that interpret the meaning of "employee" in the whistleblower statute.
In print, locate the volume of the Federal Practice Digest 5th that contains the topic SECURITIES REGULATION, key number 35.14 and under that topic and key number you will find Lawson v. FMR LLC and other federal court opinions listed by jurisdiction that address the meaning of "employee" under the whistleblower provision of the Sarbanes Oxley Act.
In Westlaw Edge, simply click on the key number from headnote number 1 in the Lawson v. FMR LLC opinion and choose one or more jurisdictions (e.g., 4th Circuit, 7th Circuit, both, All Federal) to find more cases on that same issue.
Lexis Advance uses a similar system of assigning topics to its LexisNexis Headnotes®. From the assigned topic above the headnote in a case in Lexis Advance, you choose "Get documents" from the dropdown box and select one or more jurisdictions to find more cases on that legal issue.
You can also browse or search West topics and key numbers in Westlaw Edge and browse or search documents by topic in Lexis Advance (See the videos in Finding Federal Cases Using Westlaw & Lexis Advance).