For Your Searching Ease

Published on: Author: Teresa L

One of the major differences in searching on Westlaw and Lexis is the default search. If you type in res ispa loquitor in Westlaw, the default connector is OR: you are searching for any document that has res or ipsa or loquitor. Well, that will bring up a lot of irrelevant documents so you need to put the phrase in quotation marks.
On Lexis the default is +2 or within 2 words. So you will pull up all of the documents that have res within 2 words of ipsa within 2 words of loquitor, giving you more focused results. You must put quotation marks around your words to get results with the exact phrase, but at least +2 is more like the default search on all the major web search engines you are used to using: AND.
Westlaw has just added a feature that allows you to change their default. Your basic default search would then be the same on both Lexis and Westlaw.
Just click Preferences, in the upper right corner of the screen, then click the Search link in the left frame. Under the Terms & Connectors heading, notice the Space Connector option. You can set the spaces.
Remember, though: if you want an exact phrase, use quotation marks. This is epecially important for phrases like “employment at will” where employment within 2 words of will could get many variations: employment that will, employment status will, employment contract will…You get the idea.