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Connect to the database here. If prompted, log in with your Brookes ID and password.
The first time you access Westlaw you will be asked for your name and email address.
The homepage contains a single search box. This automatically searches everything in Westlaw, but you can click on options to narrow your search down. You will have greater control over your search, however, if you use the tabs along the top of the screen (cases, legislation etc.).
You can return to the homepage from anywhere in Westlaw by clicking on the Westlaw icon in the top left of the screen.
On the Westlaw homepage you'll see the invitation to 'browse by topic' followed by an alphabetical list of broad areas of law.
If you click on one of these, you may then see:
If you click on one of these more specific areas, you'll see an overview article as well as a selection of recent, relevant cases and journal articles. These overview articles are great places to start researching a topic. They are short thematic posts, in the style of Wikipedia, but they are written by legal experts.
Remember, Westlaw overview articles are not sources you should be citing in your assignments. Rather, it is a springboard to help you find other, more scholarly material. This process works in two main ways:
Download a one-page guide (contains screenshots) of how to best use topics on Westlaw (PDF).
Other international case law
Download a one page guide (contains screenshots) about how to find and use journals in Westlaw (PDF).
Do you get too many search results in Westlaw? Are the useful results surrounded by lots of irrelevant results? One solution might be to use some of these tools. Book yourself on to a LexisLibrary and Westlaw: Advanced Searching workshop if you want to learn more about using these really powerful tips.
You don't need to remember any of these. Just remember that next to every search form in Westlaw is a link labelled terms and connectors. This will give you a handy reminder of all these tricks.
If you put more than one word in a search box, Westlaw UK and Westlaw (international) will respond differently. Westlaw UK assumes all your words are linked with 'and' so will only retrieve results where all your words occur. In contrast, Westlaw (international) assumes they are linked with 'or' so will retrieve results where at least one of your words occurs. To avoid this in Westlaw (international), use and between words if you want more precise results
In the black bar at the very bottom of every Westlaw page is a link to user guides. Here you will find step-by-step illustrated guides to using different parts of Westlaw.
You may also want to download or print the library's PDF guide to using Westlaw for English law.
If you are a GDL, LLB or LLM student you will be provided with training from the Academic Liaison Librarian for Law at the start of your course. The slides from this training will be available in Moodle for you to refer back to throughout your course.
The library runs Lexis and Westlaw workshops, at both a basic and advanced level. These are open to all students in all years. You can find out more and book a place. If you want to come to the advanced workshop without attending the basic one first, make sure you are comfortable with what the basic workshop covers as the second workshop builds on this.
Casey Alves is an Oxford Brookes law student and also the Thomson Reuters Student Legal Representative for Oxford Brookes. She runs regular Westlaw clinics. Find out more on Facebook or get in touch by email.
And, of course, you can always get in touch with Charlie Brampton, the Academic Liaison Librarian for Law. Charlie can see you individually or in small groups.
Westlaw UK Certification Training gives you an interactive walk-through of Westlaw UK with the option to then test your skills and become Certified. There is no fee to certify, and it shows prospective employers that you are proficient at using this important legal database.
Firstly, they will take you step-by-step through everything you need to know to be a Westlaw UK power user. If you decide to take the online test and pass, you’ll be Certified in Westlaw UK and be sent a certificate in the post to demonstrate your skills, which you can list on your CV.
They offer certification at basic and advanced level, and there is also a module on international law.
Find out more and get started.