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Paralegal's Guide to Going Beyond Basic Search: Tapping into Google's full potential for legal research June 2012


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Slides from Webinar presentation for the Institute for Paralegal Education, presented June 22, 2012.

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Paralegal's Guide to Going Beyond Basic Search: Tapping into Google's full potential for legal research June 2012

  1. 1. The Institute for Paralegal Education Welcomes You to The Paralegal’s Guide to Going Beyond Basic Search: Tapping into Google’s Full Potential for Legal Research
  2. 2. Going Beyond Basic Search: Tapping into Google’s Full Potential for Legal Research – Essential search tips and productivity tools for using Google’s basic search effectively – When and how to use Google’s advanced search – Finding legal materials using Google Scholar • Friday, June 22, 12:00pm Eastern Time Presented by Elizabeth Geesey Holmes
  3. 3. About Elizabeth Geesey Holmes Information Professional Internet Search Specialist I help attorneys, paralegals, and legal secretaries find authoritative information efficiently and cost effectively
  4. 4. “The digital age’s most mundane act, the Google search, often represents layer upon layer of intrigue.” David Segal. “The Dirty Little Secrets of Search”. New York Times. February 12, 2011
  5. 5. Part 1: Essential search tips and productivity tools for using Google’s basic search effectively
  6. 6. Basic Search Main Page Click on arrow for Account Settings
  7. 7. Check Your Settings!
  8. 8. How to Change Your Settings Do a Search FIRST! Toggle showing or hiding personal results Click on gear to bring up search settings
  9. 9. Search Settings: Search Results
  10. 10. Search Settings: Search Results POWER USERS: Hold down the Shift button each time you click a link or, right-click on a link & select Open link in new window. If you're using a Mac, press the Command key when clicking links.
  11. 11. Search Settings: Languages Google Search automatically returns results in the language you choose for Google product text. You can also request results in other languages. If you don’t select any other language you will only get results if the page is in English
  12. 12. Search Settings: Location
  13. 13. My location is set to Baltimore, MD so my results are in that area Check & change location quickly by clicking here
  14. 14. Use Boolean Searching (and/or other search strategies)
  15. 15. Boolean Logic A system developed by mathematician George Boole during the 19th century that uses a series of connectors to define relationships between objects
  16. 16. Boolean Connectors: AND • Google Default • All of the keywords are present – Search: probate law – Results: Both the term probate and the term law
  17. 17. Boolean Connectors: OR • One keyword or the other, or both keywords are present – Search: probate OR trust law – Results: will all have the term law combined with either the word trust or probate NOTE: You must capitalize OR otherwise Google will treat it as a stop word and ignore it
  18. 18. Boolean Connectors: NOT (-) • No results with this keyword are returned – Search: Anne Tyler –author -novel – Returns results with the keywords Anne and Tyler, but without the keyword author, and without the word novel – Use this strategy to find results for your former classmate Anne Tyler, but not for the novelist Anne Tyler
  19. 19. Word Stemming (and un-stemming) Searching for constitutional will also find the words: constitution and constitutions
  20. 20. Proximity Searching: Asterisk (*)/ Wildcard • Search: Elizabeth * Holmes • Results: Include: – Elizabeth Geesey Holmes – Elizabeth G Holmes, BUT also – Elizabeth Spencer, Amy Holmes
  21. 21. Proximity Searching: Asterisk (*)/ Wildcard
  22. 22. Phrase Searching: “ “ • Use for searching exact phrases or words • Use to stop Google from stemming • Enter your phrase or word in quotation marks – Search: Ed Braks – Results: Ed, Edward, Breaks – not Braks – Search: Ed “Braks” – Results: Ed, Edward and Braks – NO Breaks
  23. 23. Proximity Searching: AROUND • Use the search operator AROUND(n) to specify the your words must be within n words of each other. – You can use any number for n – AROUND must be in all CAPS • Very useful for searching names
  24. 24. Search: Ed AROUND(2) “Braks” Irrelevant Ad Google suggests the word Breaks even though we used quotations around “Braks” Our results include Ed Braks, Edward Braks and Edward J. Braks.
  25. 25. Some Punctuation and Symbols in Search Symbol Example Search Term Plus sign + To search for blood type AB+ or programming language C++ “At” sign @ To find social tags @google Ampersand & For strongly connected ideas/phrases like A&E or Brothers & Sisters Dollar sign $ To indicate prices so nikon $400 and nikon 400 give different results Hashtag # To search for trending topics indicated by hashtags #lifewithoutgoogle Dash - To distinguish between cross reference and cross-reference Underscore _ Is not ignored when it connects two words quick_sort
  26. 26. Navigate your search results
  27. 27. What if I just want News Articles?
  28. 28. Results limited to NEWS
  29. 29. Ads related to this search Other searches related to this search Links to Advanced Search & Search Help
  30. 30. When to Use Basic Search, and Some Other Tips & Tricks
  31. 31. Use Basic Search As… • Your starting point – Narrow results, or use Boolean search operators to get more relevant hits
  32. 32. Use Basic Search As… • A tool to look up simple facts – Population Ecuador – President Poland – Capitol of Massachusetts
  33. 33. Use Basic Search As… • A calculator 7*2+4
  34. 34. Use Basic Search As… • A dictionary – define res ipsa loquitur
  35. 35. Use Basic Search As… • A weather forecaster weather 02806
  36. 36. Part 2: When and how to use Google’s advanced search
  37. 37. How to get to Advanced Search 1. Do a Basic Search OR 2. Scroll to bottom of the page and click on Advanced Search 3. Choose Advanced Search 2. Click on GEAR Icon
  38. 38. Limiting Results to Specific File Formats • Enter your search words in the Boolean search boxes at the top of the page • Scroll down to narrow your results by File Type • Choose the file type from the drop down box – Example: Limit search results to .ppt to find presentations posted to the web by opposing experts.
  39. 39. Limiting Results to a Specific Web Site • Search one site (like or limit your results to a domain like .edu, .org or .gov • The command to do this in basic search is site:
  40. 40. Enter your search terms Limit to a domain or domain type
  41. 41. All Results are from domains ending in .edu
  42. 42. Who is Linking to Whom? • Use to determine possible business or personal relationships • Use to evaluate a Web site for the first time • To search for web pages that link to a URL, use the "link:" operator – Search: link: – Results: pages that link to Cornell’s Legal Information Institute Web site
  43. 43. A few more Hidden Features • Limiting results to where your search terms appear in the website – In the title of the page – In the text of the page – In the URL of the page – In links to the page • Limiting results by date updated
  44. 44. Two ways to limit by date updated Advanced Search Page Basic Search Sidebar
  45. 45. Why Use Advanced Search • Indispensable in refining your searches to bring the relevant results to the first pages • Fill in the box format means you don’t have to remember specific search commands
  46. 46. Part 3: Finding legal materials using Google Scholar
  47. 47. What is Google Scholar? • Specialized search that retrieves results from a separate database • Includes: Articles, Theses, Books, Abstracts, and Court Opinions • From academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other scholarly web sites
  48. 48. How to get to Google Scholar • Go to: ( OR • In Basic Google type in the search: scholar – Your first result will be for Google Scholar
  49. 49. Old “Look” for Google Scholar main page Link to Advanced Search is still here Click here to try “modern look”
  50. 50. New “modern look” for Google Scholar Main Page Settings are still here, but link to Advanced Search is gone Revert to “old venerable” look
  51. 51. Important Preferences Default to search legal opinions and journals Show access links for full text to up to three libraries with which you are affiliated. Open results in a new window Don’t forget to Save
  52. 52. What legal research material can I find here? And where do they come from?     Federal and State case law Legal journal articles Google’s own database Google also links to alternate sources for some cases, such as Cornell’s LII, Justia and
  53. 53. Google Scholar Case Coverage U.S. State appellate and supreme Court case opinions 1950-present U.S. Federal district, appellate, tax and bankruptcy court case opinions 1923-present U.S. Supreme Court case opinions 1791-present
  54. 54. Search by Citation
  55. 55. Search by Party Name
  56. 56. Search by Judges Name in a particular State or Court
  57. 57. Scholarly Articles
  58. 58. Pros of Google Scholar for Legal Research • Hyperlinked case citations • Fast and accurate search results • Relevancy as good or better than commercial legal research services • “How Cited” tab provides links to cases and scholarly documents that have cited your case • Set up Alerts • Send direct links to cases • It’s FREE
  59. 59. Cons of Google Scholar for Legal Research • Search results based on Google’s system for ranking search results rather than actual importance of case • Cannot easily tell if case is still good law. • No index tool • Statutes and Rules are not hyperlinked • Lacks some older cases
  60. 60. “Have fun and keep googling.” ~Larry Page and Sergey Brin in a note on the new (1998)
  61. 61. Resources • Official Google Blog ( • Google Help Center ( • Nancy Backman’s Google Guide ( • Google for Lawyer’s by Carole Levitt and Mark Rosch • Google Hacks by Tara Calishain and Rael Dornfest
  62. 62. More Resources • Google Scholar Help ( • Advanced Scholar Search Tips ( ch.html) • Google Scholar Advanced Search ( ?hl=en&as_sdt=2,40) • Google Scholar Advanced Search Help ( ch.html)
  63. 63. Even More Resources • “Google Scholar Advanced Legal Research Tips” by Josh Camson on • “Advanced Search in Retreat” by Greg R. Notess in Information Today Online (
  64. 64. Contact Information Elizabeth Geesey Holmes Librarian Partridge Snow & Hahn LLP
  65. 65. THANK YOU for attending today’s Teleconference/Webcast Please visit us online at for a complete list of upcoming learning opportunities or for more information.