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Appellate Advocacy Research Guide: Databases

This guide provides links to and descriptions of the Library's best and most popular appellate advocacy resources . It includes resources on state and federal rules, brief writing, oral argument, and appellate practice before state and federal courts.

About Databases

This page includes links to a number of sources that are available online through commerical providers, Bloomberg, LexisNexis, and Westlaw. Topics include:

Grammar and Style Guides

Very few style guides are available in commercial databases.  The "how to" guides are most often found in print.

  • Bloomberg Law now includes a law dictionary feature.  Simply type a legal term into the go box in the upper right-hand corner and select the most relevant entry under the "Barron's Law Dictionary" heading in the drop-down list to easily access the definition
  • Westlaw includes Black's Law Dictionary and Words and Phrases, which provides judicial defintions and explanations ot key legal terms by jurisdiction

Appellate Advocacy Texts and Treatises Online

Only a handful of the many texts devoted to appellate advocacy are available online.  For full descriptions of these texts, see the Books section of this research guide.

Bloomberg Law:

Lexis Advance:


Briefs and Brief Writing

None of the major texts and practice guides listed under the Books section of this Guide are available through paid commercial databases.  Examples of actual briefs filed in actual cases, are, however, available.  Examples from briefs databases can provide a writer with ideas for arguments, new cases and ideas for structuring a brief.  But, one should not rely on someone else's judgment or legal research as a substitute for their own.  One of the advantages of books on brief writing is that in addition to examples, they provide explanation as to why an example is good or bad and how it can be improved.

Bloomberg Law: There are a variety of databases in Bloomberg that contain appellate briefs.  Here are a few of the main ones

  • U.S Supreme Court Briefs:  Getting started>Federal Law>Federal Court Briefs. Database includes select U.S. Supreme Court briefs filed from 1936 to present
  • Federal Court Briefs: Getting started>Federal Law>Federal Court Briefs  Description: Briefs filed in federal courts including United States Circuit Courts of Appeals, District Courts, Bankruptcy Courts and Bankruptcy Appellate Panels from 1934-present.
  • All State and Federal Court Briefs Includes select US federal and state court briefs filed from 1942 to present.
  • Briefs from specific state and federal cases via Bloomberg dockets:  Bloomberg does not have a specific database for state court briefs.  One can, however, search specific state or federal court dockets in hopes of finding links to briefs in the docket record. 

Lexis Advance

  • One can locate examples of briefs for both state and federal jurisdictions by selecting the "browse" feature from the Lexis Advance home page and then by going to "Sources" on the left-hand side.  Then search by category, choose "Briefs, Pleadings and Motions."  From there, scroll to loacate your jurisdiction, I for Illinois or "U" U.S. Supreme Court or U.S. Courts of Appeals briefs; using the latter, one can filter to Seventh Circuit briefs.  You can narrow your search using the same filters available for other Lexis documents.


  • To access appellate briefs via Westlaw, go to the All Content tab and choose 'Briefs'  the Briefs Multibase "has selected briefs from the U.S. Supreme Court, Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, U.S. Tax Court, 51 state courts and the District of Columbia."  One can search for briefs by jurisdiction or by topic.


Oral Arguments

Lexis Advance

  • United States Supreme Court Transcripts : Transcripts of arguments before the United States Supreme Court since 1979.  Transcripts are received  from the Court, usually within two weeks of publication.


  • Trial Transcripts and Oral Arguments : This database contains oral arguments for select courts including the U.S. Supreme Court and the Seventh Circuit Ciourt of Appeals going back to 2000.

Subject Guide