Advanced Legal Research
Professor Lisa Smith-Butler
Citators serve two purposes:
they can be used to locate similar cases on a subject; and
they allow researchers to ascertain the validity of their
research by updating it.
Citators: Comprehensive & Limited
There are two well known and comprehensive citator services. They are:
Shepard’s ; and
While there are two comprehensive citator services that allow updating across
the spectrum (cases, statutes, regulations, secondary sources), there are limited
citator services such as:
LoisLaw, a low cost CALI alternative to Lexis and Westlaw, has a limited
citator known as GlobalCite;
CCH has a tax citator service for its Standard Federal Tax Reporter and
selected other loose leaf services; and
a limited (federal appellate cases and U.S. Supreme Court) free citator
service on Findlaw.
Shepard’s began as a print product in 1873 and was
developed by Frank Shepard. It is now published by
Lexis Publishing and is available exclusively on Lexis-
Nexis. A decade ago, it existed in three formats:
Today it is available in print and electronic format.
Over the years as Shepard’s inundated the legal profession, law
students became so familiar with the Shepard’s updating process that it
became known as shepardizing.
Shepard’s provides the researcher with the following
information about a case:
subsequent history citations;
treatment of the case by later cases; and
citations to secondary sources.
You can narrow your Shepards’ analysis by:
when you select and apply Narrow By to limit your
Shepard’s Table of Authorities
In addition to alerting the researcher to the status of
the case being cited, Shepard’s will also alert the
researcher to the status of the cases underlying the
cited decision with its Table of Authorities.
Suppose you want to monitor your case?
With electronic, you can set up a Shepard’s alert with
your citation and find out, via email or login, any time
another court or secondary source cites to your case.
With print, you would literally have to shepardize
whenever a new Shepard’s came out. With the most
expensive and quickest Shepard’s service, that would
be a monthly search.
KeyCite was developed by West Publishing in 1996
to compete with Shepard’s.
KeyCite is available in electronic formats but is not
available in print.
KeyCite provides the researcher with:
the direct appellate history;
the negative indirect history;
cites to all cases available on Westlaw;
cites to all cases that cite a federal statute or regulation.
As with Shepard’s, you can limit your Keycite analysis
depth of treatment.
Monitoring & Updating
If you want to monitor your cited case with KeyCite to
see if later cases or law reviews mention it, can you?
Use the KeyCite Alert feature.