A few people have been coming up to me with Westlaw questions, so I thought I’d put up a real helpful and easy way to find cases for points of law you need quickly.
WestLaw has several field restrictions that can help you narrow your search. The one I’m going to show you is the Digest field restriction, or DI(x), where DI stands for Digest, and “x” stands for the key words you’ll type in.
For example, if you want to find cases that contain points of law referring to the Federal Tort Claims Act’s Discretionary Function exception you might type in this:
DI(FTCA “Federal Tort Claims Act” /p “discretionary function”)
Or, maybe find something on equitable servitudes:
Now, we’ll turn to the Synopsis field restriction. The Synopsis portion of the case is a quick summary of the case that you see at the beginning of every case you pull up on WestLaw. So, let’s combine Synopsis and Digest field restrictions to find cases even quicker. The Synopsis field restriction is encoded as SY(x)
Let’s say you want to find cases involving automobile accidents and the negligence element of foreseeability. To link field restrictions together in the same search use the ampersand character (“&”).
So, for example, you might enter:
SY(auto! vehicle car truck motor! /p crash accident collision collide) & DI(negligence /p foreseeability foreseeable)
Try this out and let me know if it works, or if you have any questions.