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Research Guides

EDAD 610 - Higher Education Law

Lexis Uni Guide

Finding cases, issues or codes affecting students or administration of institutions in higher education.
[Note: This guide was originally created for LexisNexis. Since Lexis Uni has replaced LexisNexis, I am updating it now to reflect some of the important changes.] 


  • Go to, click on the "Databases" tab, type in Lexis Uni. Follow the link to get in.


  • All Nexis Uni - searches everything. You could also use the down arrow button to choose a specific category, e.g. "Cases."
  • Guided Search - is easier to use especially when you are new to Lexis Uni or case searching.
  • Advanced Search - retrieves better or more precise results if you know how to do it.


  • Select Advanced Search > Select a Specific Content Type > Cases > Cases
  • In the search box to enter a term, terms or an exact phrase. You may want to check with the search connectors listed on the right.
  • Segments/Fields Search
    A case document consists of segments like Reporter /Core Terms /Case Summary /Overview /Outcome /Headnotes Summary /Opinions and the like. You can search within any one of those segments.

    Example: I am looking for cases in which decisions by lower courts on teachers tenure denial got reversed.

    To look for cases like that, first locate the Summary search box, and then enter search terms like tenure and denied and reversed. While you are typing, the search syntax will automatically appear as summary(tenure and denied and reverse).  Click it to search.

    The Summary segment search in Lexis Uni is somewhat similar to AB Abstract field search offered by many bibliographic databases in that a summary or abstract highlights a study or what has been going on with a legal case. Limiting to the summary segment will retrieve fewer but probably better results than searching across a full document.  Other possible combinations of search terms:

    summary(tenure w/5 denied and revers!)
    where the word "tenure" must be within 1-5 words around the word "denied" and all variations of the word "reverse" (reversed, reversing, reversal...) will be searched on.

    outcome(tenure denial reversed)
    The retrieved results will only show the outcome if that is what you are looking for. Outcome is a sub-segment within Summary.


  • shep:25 Wn. App. 243
    In the main search box, enter shep: followed by a citation number. Shepardizing is an effective way to find those "good law" cases.

The contents below the division line are taken from the LexisNexis guide that I created in the past. Most of the contents should be still good for using with Lexis Uni.

1) By Citation             834 N.E.2d 432
2) By Parties               Brown  v. board of education
3) By Topic                 free speech and campus  or -  free speech w/15 campus
4) US Federal & State Cases:   free speech and campus  (Switch the field from "Everywhere" to "At least 5 occurrences)  
5) Combined Search: If you wish to broaden your search results, combine "fed. & state cases" and "Law reviews.   

Tips: ! truncation mark. E.g. terminat! will find terminate, terminated, termination...  ; Using the W/n connector. E.g. free speech w/15 student; Segment search can be effective. This is how to select a segment: Source > Fed.& State Cases > Select a segment > e.g. OVERVIEW(due process and  player). Overview is the segment that describes the facts about the case; Show (options of displaying case documents): KWIC shows ONLY the segments in which your search terms occur; Full with Indexing  shows all but it could make a case reading difficult.   See some examples:

-   student! and dress code           
-   student! w/15 dress code            
-   student! w/20 free speech and Texas
-   347 w/5 U.S. w/5 483   [Looking for cases which mention the case 347 U.S. 483]
-   faculty and terminat! and retaliat! w/50 criticiz!
Supreme Court Cases
-  court ( supreme ) and denial and financial aid
-  court (supreme) and university and age discrimination

AND will retrieve all the term(s) from the same document.
W/N allows one to specify the proximity between words. The rules of thumb are:
          student! w/5 dress code (same phrase)
          student! w/15 dress code (same sentence)
          student! w/50 dress code (same paragraph)
          student! and dress code (anywhere in the document).              
!    When used at the end of a word as in "student!", it will find student, students, student's and students'     

Avoid using long phrases.  Example: university faculty promotion discrimination.   The search may get zero hits because it looks for documents with all those words appearing in that exact order. Solution: add "And" in between:  university AND faculty promotion AND discrimination, or use different terms: faculty and tenure denied and discrimination. You may also consider using "!" to optimize the search results, e.g.  deni! to include denial, denied or other variations.

Use W/N connector to construct more meaningful search sets.  Example: graduate admission rejected and disability.  You may change it to: graduate w/5 program and admission w/15 denied and disabl!  In this new search, you use W/N to break the long phrase graduate admission rejected into two subsets: graduate program and admission denied, and then combine them with the third component disabled or disability.
Specify in which SEGMENT your search terms occur. See two examples:
- OVERVIEW(due process and  player)
- OVERVIEW (tenure w/5 denied) and OUTCOME(reversed)

Google it. Example: legal cases tenure denial and sex discrimination. Then search Lexis with the name(s) or citation or keywords you found in Google. You could also use Google Scholar to look for law reviews and articles. Make sure you select the radio button - "Legal opinions and journals."

See also - using law reviews to find cases.    

 A reference system to identify the past judicial decisions on cases or other information. With a citation, one can quickly locate the full text of the case. See citation format and examples below:

Case Citation Format in Reporters or Law Reports:
Plaintiff | Defendant |Volume |Reporter |Page |Court   |Year
Blackburn v. Fisk          433       F.2d        121    (6th Cir. 1971)
"F.2d" stands for The Federal Reporter, 2nd series.  Please note that not all citations follow the full format, e.g., 834 N.E.2d 432.  Also, one case could have more than one citations, for example, all of these four citations 834 N.E.2d 432; 162 Ohio App. 3d 642; 2005 Ohio 4331;  2005 Ohio App. LEXIS 3932 refer to one case.          

Path:  Power Search > By Type > select > US Law Review

Law review articles in Lexis are divided into three main sections: Title, Summary and Text. See some examples below:

-  title (affirmative action and admission w/5 program)
- summary (affirmative action and admission w/5 program)
- text (tenure w/5 denied w/20 race or gender or religion)
- affirmative action and admission w/5 program and hopwood w/10 texas    

The search summary(affirmative action and admission w/5 program) will find more than 120 articles. In one of the articles "A Current Perspective: The Erosion of Affirmative Action in University Admissions", you will find several important cases mentioned: Board of Regents v. Bakke; Gratz v. Michigan; Hunter v. Regents of the University of California; and Robert A. Lauer, Hopwood v. Texas. You could also do a TEXT search with parties' names to look for articles on your interested cases.

Under the doctrine of stare decisis (Latin, Let the decision stand), "previously decided cases serve as a model for resolution of future disputes involving similar legal principles or fact patterns....Because of this reliance on precedent, you need to be sure that the authority you cite is still “good law”—in other words, you need to make sure that cases have not been reversed on appeal, overruled or criticized by subsequent cases, and that statutes have not been repealed or found unconstitutional." (Lexis)

To Shepardize a case is to determine the current status of a case. See another definition from Wiki: In legal research, Shepard's Citations is a citator, a list of all the authorities citing a particular case, statute, or other legal authority. The verb Shepardizing refers to the process of consulting Shepard's to see if a case has been overturned, reaffirmed, questioned, or cited by later cases. There are two ways to shepardize a case.

Method One: -Lexis>legal>Shepards@Citations>type in a citation, example: 569 S.E.2d 456 > Check.
Method Two: -If you are viewing a case, say, 569 S.E.2d 456,  then just click the GREEN+ symbol at the upper left corner of the case. This will take you directly into Shepardizing that case.

Commonly Used Shepard’s Symbols:  (Green) positive; (Yellow) caution; (Orange) questioned; (Red) warning/neg. treatment; (Blue A) citing reference with analysis; (Blue I) Citation information is available. (Lexis).

Avoid using those cases indicated with the RED warning symbol. Use caution when citing those cases with Yellow or Orange symbols. Here is an example of a case with RED symbol: 349 U.S. 294. Warning & negative treatment usually includes: overruled by, questioned by, superceded by and the like.  Caution & possible negative treatment often includes wording like criticized by, clarified, modified, or corrected. Positive treatment often includes: followed, affirmed or approved.

References in Shepard's Summary & Definitions: Shepard's summaries may contain analysis wording like "cited by," "overruled," "distinguished by" and the like. Say a Shepard's Summary shows "Distinguished (15), and you want to locate these fifteen Distinguished analysis quickly from a long case document. How to do that? Go to RESTRIC BY > select NARROW-RESTRIC BY > Under Analyses, select the Distinguished By box > Click on the red APPLY button (on the right) and then go to near the bottom of the page to find them.  A separate note: the reference terms like "distinguished,"  "Overruled," "Followed," "Concurring Opinion" and the like are all linked in the case (text) you are Shepardizing. You can simply click on any of them to display the definition if you are not sure about what the term means.

See How to Read a Case, p. 1-1 (College Administrator & the Courts). Basically, the decision is related to the facts of the case. So grasp the FACTS first, then ask WHAT THE ISSUE IS. This is to determine what the principles the case stands for. The next questions: how the court RESOLVED THE ISSUE & THEIR REASONING and WHAT ARE THE RAMIFICATION OF THE OPINION. Note: opinion does NOT equal decision. An opinion is the court's explanation for its decision; a decision either affirms or reverses the lower court or tribunal.

PSU also publishes an excellent guide on how to read a legal case:
     1. Begin with the name and citation of the case.
    2. Is this case being decided by a trial court or an appellate court? (Note: most cases you read will be
        appellate cases, because the opinions of trial courts have less precedental value)
    3. In the original case, who was the plaintiff and who was the defendant?
    4. What was the original complaint? (libel, invasion of privacy, violation of a statute, etc.)
    5. What were the facts that led to the complaint?
    6. What was the trial court's decision? (who "won" the case)
    7. What are the legal questions/issues that are being raised on appeal?
    8. What is the present court's decision (is the original decision affirmed, reversed, or remanded?)
    9. What rule or test is the court using to decide the outcome? This will relate to the legal question
        that must be decided.
    10.What reason does the court give for using this rule?
Url: <>

More TIPS (on how to read a case):

1) Where Are Court's Decisions Located?
It is located in the OPINION section. OPINION contains "a statement that is prepared by a judge or court announcing the decision after a case is tried; includes a summary of the facts, a recitation of the applicable law and how it relates to the facts, the rationale supporting the decision, and a judgment; and is usually presented in writing, though occasionally an oral opinion is rendered." [Legal Dictionary]

2) What is Syllabus?
Syllabus contains a summary of the rulings of the court on the case. Syllabus usually precedes right before OPINION but it is usually not part of the court's decision. United States Reports (the official record of the rulings of the Supreme Court) usually contain two parts - Syllabus and Opinion. The case in Lexis, however, contains much more. See the next Q and A .

3) Case Text in Lexis
It might be helpful to compare a case in United States Reports and Lexis. Say, 539 U.S. 244.  First, check it out at, and then locate the same case in Lexis. One may notice that United States Reports and Lexis have basically the same wording of text in both SYLLABUS and OPINION but Lexis adds editorial things like case summaries, overviews, core terms, Lexis headnotes, Lawyers' edition headnotes, links to Supreme Court's briefs and so on into its case text. The ruling of the case, however, is placed under the sections from Syllabus to Opinion. If you want to get a copy of the official case text with supreme court decisions, go to The United States Reports website. See the next Q and A.

4) Where to Get the PDFs of Official Ruling of Cases?
The Supreme Court website has PDFs of the United States Reports series online
For more recent opinions of the court, go to the Slip Opinions
[Note: A case report may have multiple editions. Lexis provides a Lawyers edition pdf (see the link on the upper left corner of the case you are Shepardizing.) One could also click on the SAVE icon (on the right) to obtain a Lexis edition pdf copy. Among all editions, the most authoritative one is the U.S. Reports.]

5) What Are Headnotes?
LexisNexis Headnotes trace the discussion of specific points of law or fact through the use of headnote numbers. When reading a case, you may see headnotes here and there. A HN gives a brief summary of a point of law. When clicked, a HN will jump to a specific court opinion in the text of the case, helping readers to understand the opinion relevant to that law. Please note that HN is only an editorial interpretation not a part of the court's decisions.

6) What Do the Pagination Notes Refer to? 
When reading a case in Lexis, you may come across pagination notes like [*424] or [**55].  The asterisks refer to different reporters. The numbers refer to the printed pages from a reporter. There are four different reporters:

U.S. Reports – no asterisk
Supreme Court Reporter – one asterisk   *
Lawyers Edition – two asterisks               **
Lexis – three asterisks                          ***

Note: When you cite a page, do not include the * asterisk mark(s).

Path: Lexis> Legal tab> United States Code Services Title 1 through 50    
- higher education resources and student assistance programs   (if you know the name)
- heading ( title 20 ) and section ( 100* )    (if you know the Title and the section numbers)

You could also click Browse TOC (located on the left panel) to do a search by limiting to a specific section, say, EDUCATION, and then enter your search terms in the Quick Find.

Path: Lexis> Legal tab>Federal and State Codes > select CFR from SOURCES   
- Heading (student loan)        (keyword search in the Heading section)
- 5 CFR 537.10*                       (if you know a specific CFR citation)

Path: Lexis> Legal tab>Federal and State Codes > select TX-Texas Code, Constitution ... from SOURCES 
-  heading (higher education and control of funds)

Supreme Court Cases - MLA
Format: Case title, U.S. Reports citation, page #, docket number, name of the court, year of decision, Internet address, and date of accessing the site
- Fullilove v. Klutznick. 448 U.S. 448. 448-554. No. 78-1007. US Supreme Court. 1980. Online. LexisNexis®Academic. (5 August 2007)

Supreme Court Cases - APA  
Format:  Case title, U.S. Reports citation, year of decision, and Internet address.
- Fullilove v. Klutznick, 448 U.S. 448 (1980) [Online] Available:
U.S. Code - MLA
Format: Title number, statute book of the U.S. Code, section, year, publication medium, name of computer service, and date of access.
- 42 US Code. Sec. 405. 1998. Online. LexisNexis® Academic. 5 August 2007
U.S. Code -APA
- National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 § 102, 42 U.S.C. § 4332 (1994)


Citing Articles or Law Journals - examples from ALWD Citation Manual    
- Dan T. Coenen, The Constitutional Case Against Intracircuit Nonacquiescance, 75 Minn. L. Rev. 1339, 1341 (1991) Post, R. C. (2003). Fashioning the legal constitution: Culture, courts, and law. Harvard Law Review, 117. Retrieved January 25, 2004, from LexisNexis Academic database.

Legal Materials Citation Styles Guides:
The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation     KF 245 .U55 (Reference Desk, Evans Library)
Cornell Law Guide: 

1) On the search results' list page, click on the Save icon on the upper right corner which will launch a new window.
2) Select the desired options, e.g. -Word (DOC), full document, all documents, each document on a new page etc.. Click the Download button. A new window pops up with a delivery link.
3) Mouse over the link, right click to open it with MS Word/other applications or download it to your computer.

ABBREVIATION - Reporters / Law Reports

   National Reporter System
 ▪ F. SUPP. (The Federal Supplement. Cases decided by the US District Courts)
 ▪ F.2d.3d. (The Federal Reporter, 2nd series or 3rd series, contains cases decided by the US Courts of
   Appeals Authority & Jurisdiction
 ▪ F.R.D. (Federal Rules Decisions. Decisions of the US Distr. Courts not covered in F.SUPP)
   Supreme Court Decisions are reported in:
 ▪ U.S. (United States Reports)
 ▪ S. Ct. (Supreme Court Reports)
 ▪ L.Ed. 2d (Lawyers Edition, 2nd Series)
 ▪ L.W. (US Law Weeks)

   State Courts Decisions are reported in these reporters:
 ▪ N.E.2d (Northeaster: MA, RI, NY, OH, IN & IL)
 ▪ A.2d (Atlantic: MD, NH, VT, CT, NJ, PA, DE & D.C.
 ▪ So.2d (Southern: FL, AL, MS, and LA)
 ▪ S.E.2d (Southeaster: VA, WV, NC, and GA)
 ▪ S.W.2d (Southwestern: KY, YN, MO, AR and TX)
 ▪ P.2d. (Pacific: MT, WY, ID, KS, CO, OK, NM, UT, AZ, NV, WA, OR & CA)
 ▪ N.W. 2d (Northwester: MI, WI, IA, MN, SD, and NE)
 ▪ N.Y.S.2d (New York Supplement: NY States courts)
 ▪ Cal. Rptr. (California Reporter: California)

Some Topic Ideas or Keywords
Degree denied, academic dishonesty, due process in cheating, termination of aid, financial aid as income, aid to student/attending private institution, state grants for students at private institution, due process in the denial of admission, censorship in student press, searches without warrants, public facilities used for religious purposes, discrimination in academic dismissal, gay students, student housing, required residence/sex differences, required residence/age differences, withdraw of recognition from Fraternity, alleged misrepresentation in recruiting athlete, athletic scholarship contract, reverse discrimination...