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LRAC Legal Research Class Site

West Key Numbers Continued

Okay, so Mr. West developed a classification system with numerous topics and subtopics and Key Numbers. What next?

Please watch this very very informative video about the Key Number System.

Writing Headnotes and Assigning Key Numbers Example

There was a new Supreme Court case involving constitutional interpretation - 128 S.Ct.2783.

Step 1: A West editor reads the new opinion.

Step 2: The editor summarizes each legal issue in a headnote.

Step 3: The editor looks through the 414 topics+ (and subtopics) to find the most relevant Key Number (of the over 90,000 available).

 Step 4: The most relevant Key Number is assigned to the headnote. 

 Step 5: Now, this Key Number can be used to find additional cases about this same narrow issue.

Ways to Find Useful Key Numbers

How do you find a useful Key Number on your specific legal topic?

Two ways to find them!

One: Find a Key Number in one good case and click on it to find additional cases in your desired jurisdiction.


Two: On the Westlaw initial screen, click on Key Numbers and then search or browse for relevant Key Numbers.