Answered By: Jennifer Harris
Last Updated: Oct 12, 2016     Views: 123

An example of searching for a specific topic might be: How do I find New Hampshire legal cases about breach of contract?

Shapiro Library offers two legal databases where you may conduct a search on a specific topic: LexisNexis Academic and HeinOnline Law/Legal Databases. You may find these databases by clicking on the A-Z Database List link from the Library Home page and clicking on the All Subjects drop down menu above the alphabet and selecting Law from the list. 

Here are instructions to do an advanced (recommended) search within LexisNexis:

  • Above the search box with the red border click on the “Search by Subject or Topic” dropdown menu.
  • Click on Federal and State Cases.  This will bring you back to the search box with the red border. 
  • Next, under the search box with the red border, click on Advanced Options (which allows you to limit by jurisdiction or date) and check the New Hampshire checkbox.  At the bottom right of the page, click on the red Apply button.  This will bring you back to the search box with the red border.
  • Now you may enter in your search term and click the Search button.  For example, “breach of contract.”
  • You can refine your results by limiting by jurisdiction (left-hand side of the screen), sorting by date, or adding additional search terms in the "Search within results" box (right-hand side of the screen).

If you already have a citation or specific case in mind (and you know at least one of the parties) you may want to use the “Look up a Legal Case” search box.  This is a quick way to look up case law.  However, this option does not allow for full-text searching so it is not the recommended way to locate cases by topic.  That being said, here are the steps to quickly “Look up a Legal Case”:

  • From the LexisNexis homepage, look for the gray search box near the middle of the page entitled “Look up a Legal Case” and click on it.
  • The search box will expand.  Look for the “by Topic” search box and enter in your search terms.  For example, “breach of contract.”  Click the blue Go button.
  • Since there are so many results returned, I would recommend limiting by jurisdiction (left-hand side of the screen) or add additional search terms in the “Search within results” box on the top right of the screen.

Here are the steps to find articles about cases on a specific topic within HeinOnline:

  • From the HeinOnline home page, look for the window “Browse Collections by Name” and click on the link for Law Journal Library.
  • Above the alphabet, where it says Browse by:  select the link for State (U.S.)
  • Click on New Hampshire (7)
  • In the search box where it says “Search items in this State” type in your search term “breach of contract.”
  • Once you have your results, you can further refine your search by using the options on the left (section type, subjects, titles, or dates). 
  • You may also want to use the Sort by: option at the top of your results to see the newest articles first, most cited first, etc.

Another option you might want to consider is Google Scholar because it allows you to quickly search case law in a very easy-to-read format.    

  • In the search box you can type in “breach of contract” AND “New Hampshire” and then select the radio button for Case law under the search box. 
  • It should then allow you to select the radio button for New Hampshire courts.  If you don’t see it listed, click on the link “Select courts…” and a new window will open which will allow you to select New Hampshire.  Scroll down and click the blue Done button.
  • You will be prompted to enter your search again into the search box at the top but this time you should see New Hampshire courts in red over on the left side of the screen.  Type in “breach of contract” and run your search.  You will see a list of New Hampshire cases that have to do with “breach of contract.”
  • On the left side you can limit your results to a certain date range, if needed. 
  • For more information on using Google Scholar for Case Law research, please take a look at this overview published by the Maryland State Law Library.

If you still are not able to find any cases on your subject after trying these steps, please contact the Reference Desk and we can help you brainstorm keywords or offer additional suggestions.

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