- Use your school Westlaw or Lexis IDs only for school research.
- The one exception at TJSL is:
- If you are a research assistant for a professor at TJSL, you may use your school Westlaw/Lexis ID to perform academic research for that professor.
- It is illegal and a violation of professional ethics to use your Westlaw/Lexis school ID to do law firm research.
Law Students need to be aware of the restrictions on the use of Westlaw and Lexis student accounts.
The agreement that TJSL students have with Westlaw regarding use of their accounts is provided here for your convenience. In short, it says that:
- you may not use your Westlaw account to do research for a law firm you are interning/externing with for the summer.
- you may only use your Westlaw account to do research for a class that you are enrolled in at TJSL.
The Lexis agreement says almost the same thing, and is available for you to read on the Lexis Website under Terms. In plain English their policy regarding law student use of Lexis is available at the Lexis Website, under Company Information.
Unlike Westlaw, Lexis has two specific exceptions to the rule that students may not use their accounts to do research for law firms. If the student is doing:
- a for credit internship/externship, the student may use their academic Lexis ID to do research for the law firm.
- an unpaid internships for a pro bono or non-profit law firm, the student may use their student Lexis accounts to do research even if their internship/externship is not for credit.
Westlaw and Lexis are aware that not all law firms have access to their databases. As such, they monitor student accounts during the Summertime. They are looking for unusual patterns of search, such as:
- Searching for items that are more commonly looked for by practicing attorneys than by law students.
- Searching from a law firm’s IP address.
- Warehousing material, that is, downloading and saving many items.
If students are found exhibiting these types of behaviors which give the appearance of misconduct, they will be investigated and charges may be brought against them. In addition, the California State Bar Association will be informed of the student’s violation of their user agreement and this may be grounds for refusal of admission to the California State Bar for unethical, illegal behavior.
To avoid being accused of misconduct and potentially ruining your career before it begins:
- Only use your school account to do research for your classes
- For law firm research use firm accounts, or if they do not have access, then use:
- print resources from the nearest law library
- Google scholar to search for patents, legal opinions and journals
- Do not do school research from the law firm office
If your law firm pressures you to use your school account, even after you have informed them of the terms of your agreement with the database vendors, I recommend that you inform career services at TJSL of your situation.
Be informed! Know the limitations on the use of your student Westlaw and Lexis accounts.