A Plug for Google Scholar

After court today, I visited the law library in the courthouse. Given that I do most of my research online, I don’t spend much time in the law library. However, today, I wanted to take a look at a treatise. I then decided that the library would be a good place for me to work on the response brief I was drafting.

I had my laptop with me, so I went to work.

As I was writing, I discovered that I needed a case to support a particular position. Because the library has wi-fi, I was able to log on to my WestlawNext Account and search for what I needed. During the search, I came across a case from the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. I wanted to see if the case was useful, but I knew that it was outside of my plan.

Not wanting to give up, I decided to see if Google Scholar had the case. I put the inf0rmation into Google and in a few seconds I was reading the case (and realizing that it was of no use to me). The thing I love about the process was that pulling the case up was no more difficult than typing its name into my Google Search bar.

So, if you are looking for a case that it outside your subscription plan, give Google Scholar a try.

Now, for the embarrassing part of the story. It was only after I was done and leaving the library that I realized I could have just pulled the reporter from shelf. I was in a law library for heaven’s sake. However, the though of pulling the physical book never even crossed my mind.

Creating and Using and Index in Adobe Acrobat

Recently I posted about an article I had published in Chicago Lawyer Magazine about using Adobe Acrobat as part of my legal research workflow. I have received a couple of questions relating to the article relating to which version of Acrobat you need and how to create an index so that the research is searchable.

With respect to the question of what version of Acrobat is needed, that depends largely on what you want to do with the research that you have. If what you are concerned with is reading your research and annotating it any of the paid versions of Adobe Acrobat will work fine. Please note that the free Adobe Reader will not work for this. You must have one of the paid versions. Alternatively, a program such as NitroPDF would work just fine for this as well. In fact, I find Nitro’s commenting and mark-up tools easy to use than Acrobat’s.

However, if you wish to make your research fully searchable by creating an index that spans multiple files or multiple folders, you will need either Acrobat Pro or Pro Extended. These allow you to create a very powerful index. Doing so is actually quite simple. Further, Rick Borstein has already done all of the work of demonstrating how to do this.

In a blog post from a couple of years ago, Rick explains how to create an index in Adobe Acrobat. Although the instructions provided are for Acrobat 8, they also appear to be the same to create an index in Acrobat 9.

Additionally, for those who learn best by watching, Rick has some how-to videos to talk about search options in Acrobat. In particular, he has one that talks about the differences between Find and Search and one that demonstrates how to build a full text index.

As you can see from Rick’s post and demo, creating an index is an easy thing to do. Further, it can certainly aid you when you want to search through your PDFs, whether they relate to legal research or not.