Citators, such as KeyCite in Westlaw and Shepard's in Lexis, serve two key functions when researching federal regulations.
First, they use flags and signals to alert you of proposed regulations that could affect the regulation you are researching or that a proposed change has just been finalized. Please note that you must still check the Federal Register for the most recent updates to a regulation.
Second, KeyCite and Shepard's annotate the Code of Federal Regulations with cases and secondary sources that cite the regulation you are researching. Remember that the citing references, particularly secondary sources, provided by Westlaw and Lexis Advance may differ significantly for a given regulation. Therefore, while you have access as a student, it is good practice to check both.
In Westlaw, to make sure a federal regulation is still good law, look for the yellow and red KeyCite flags.
A yellow flag alerts you that a notice or proposed rule affecting your regulation is available, that the regulation was limited on constitutional or preemption grounds or its validity has been otherwise called into doubt, or that a prior version of the regulation received negative treatment by the court. You can create a KeyCite alert to notify you if a proposed rule passes.
To investigate any proposed changes or negative treatment of a regulation, click on the yellow KeyCite flag or select the history tab and choose Validity. You can also use the History tab to view previous versions of that regulation.
To make sure you are relying on the most current version of a regulation, select the Currentness link to view the "current through" date at the bottom of the regulation. This date is typically several days old, so you will need to go online to govinfo and check the Federal Register for any changes through today.
If a red flag appears on a regulation, it could mean that it has been amended by a recent rule, repealed, superseded, held unconstitutional, or preempted in whole or in part. Click on the flag to determine if there are any changes or negative history that affects your research.
In Lexis, to make sure a federal regulation is still good law, look for the Shepard’s signals.
A blue Shepard’s signal merely means there is citing information available; it does not indicate negative treatment (the regulation is still good law).
However, you must also make sure you are relying on the most current version of a regulation. Check the current through date above the text of the regulation. This date is typically several days old, so you will need to go online to govinfo.gov and check the Federal Register for any changes through today.
A yellow or red signal cautions you that there are proposed changes or negative treatment affecting the regulation. Click on the “Shepardize this document link” to investigate the reason for the signal and determine whether the regulation is still useful in your research. The filters on the left will allow you to narrow your results by Court, by Date or by searching for terms within your results; the Analysis filter will allow you to narrow your results by treatment of the regulation, such as "Revised" or "Amended by" under Caution. You can also create a Shepard’s Alert to set up an automated search of this regulation’s Shepard’s Report.
Results displayed when "Caution" is selected from the Analysis filter.
The official print and govinfo versions of the Code of Federal Regulations are not annotated. However, Westlaw and Lexis both provide annotated versions of the CFR.
In Westlaw, scroll down to the bottom of each regulation to find the statutory authority ("Authority") for that regulation.
Select the Notes of Decisions tab to find cases selected by Westlaw as relevant to the legal issues addressed by that regulation. Westlaw organizes case summaries in the Notes of Decisions by topics that you can browse or search.
Choose the Context and Analysis tab to find relevant secondary sources, cross references to related statutes, and helpful summaries of that regulation in the Federal Register.
The Citing References tab can be used to find cases, administrative decisions, secondary sources, and appellate and trial court documents that cite the regulation you are researching.
Once you choose a resource, you can narrow your results using the filters on the left. For example, if you select Citing References and then choose the content type "Cases" you can search within your results, choose a jurisdiction, filter by date, and limit your results by Notes of Decisions Topics. To narrow your results, click Apply.
In Lexis, scroll down or use the Go To drop-down menu at the top of the page to navigate the document.
Statutory Authority lists the regulation’s enabling legislation, the statute that created the authority for this regulation. History tells you where the regulation was first published in the Federal Register, as well as any amendments to the regulation since.
The Annotations provide Notes on amendments to the regulation, Case Notes with opinions interpreting the regulation, and citations to other documents discussing the regulation in Research References and Practice Aids.
Select "Shepardize document" to view the Citing Decisions: a detailed list of the cases citing this regulation. You can narrow your results using the filters on the left. For example, you can search within your results, choose a jurisdiction, and filter by date.
Other Citing Sources will include additional resources that cite the regulation. This includes other CFR sections, which are located under Regulations, Court Documents like briefs, and helpful secondary sources such as law reviews and treatises.