West’s Key Number System Can Boost Your Research

West’s Key Number system is familiar to many lawyers. However, as librarians who work with students, we sometimes fret that newer students are using it less in their research because of the availability of the Google-like search interface in Westlaw (and Lexis too).

The Key Number System was the first of its kind when created by West Publishing more than 100 years ago. It’s a classification system of U.S. law that organizes cases by corresponding legal issues and topics, which was especially helpful before computers. But while key numbers were invented in the analog world, they have made the transition to the digital world well and all users should look to them while researching.

Westlaw has a great handout on using the key number system, complete with screenshots.