When WestlawNext originally launched a number of years ago, I found it interesting that Topics and Key Numbers were less visible than they had been in Westlaw Classic. It’s not that Topics and Key Numbers were gone–in fact, I would say they play an even greater role in WestlawNext because of their incorporation into the WestSearch search algorithm–but they were hidden. To find the Key Number outline, users had to know (and many didn’t) to click on WestlawNext’s “Tools” tab. Even within a case, users could zip up the Key Numbers as if they weren’t there. I imagine this led many users to discount what an important tool Topics and Key Numbers can be.
That’s why a search I ran a few weeks back caught my eye. The overview of results on the left now had a result for “Key Numbers,” with West’s famous key icon.
Clicking on those results I was given 10 key numbers that might be useful to me in my search. I could click on one of these results and be taken into a custom digest.
(I found it telling of where we’re at in legal research these days that the heading for my key number results said – “Key Numbers – Points of Law Found in Cases.” I guess it needs an explanation these days.)
Today I noticed that the Key Number name and icon have been added to the front page of WestlawNext, allowing users to easily get to the Key Number outline.
While using Key Numbers in WestlawNext is not new, their new prominence should remind researchers that Key Numbers are still a useful tool and one of the advantages of using WestlawNext.