You have not conducted a good search for an actual problem when you have 10,000 results. The best ways to efficiently search in online databases are:
These systems index case law to help you find cases on a particular point of law. It is similar to using a print index in a book. After you select a key number or a topic, you can still narrow the jurisdiction and use search terms to search the full text of cases assigned to that topic. This is a highly efficient method of searching case law and is based on the print Digest, which you used during your first year at Loyola in Lawyering I.
On Westlaw and Lexis you can narrow your search by content and/or jurisdiction. If you know you are looking for controlling law in Louisiana on a Louisiana issue, make sure you are only searching that jurisdiction (plus any relevant federal law). Are you looking for practice forms or information about a specific practice area? Select the practice-ready areas and narrow it down to an area like labor and employment.
One of the most important considerations for electronic searching is the words you use to conduct your search. Do you need a particular word or phrase? You can use quotes to search exact phrases. You may also want to search using terms and connectors (otherwise known as Boolean searching); the basic ones are: and, or, not. This short video discusses the importance of terms and connectors - although it was made for Lexis Advance, it is useful to understanding Boolean searching in others databases. Although this seems elementary, it can be so useful in helping you research efficiently - this will save huge amounts of time and (in practice) save money. If you need help determining search terms, talk with a law librarian.
You can use Google - it is your friend! But be aware that it has limits. If you are looking for a specific document that is relatively frequently utilized, it is highly likely you will find it (and even from a reputable source). If you are looking for secondary sources, they will be more difficult to find on Google - partially because there are A LOT of them, but also because many are only available from subscription websites. Government documents can usually be found in this way, but it may take more digging on a government website. The ability to access government information also depends on the transparency and government publication laws of a particular state. When you are doing general research on Google, rather than searching for a particular document, you should default to Google Scholar and use the advance search capabilities that will help you narrow your search.
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