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Westlaw’s headnote of the day–FREE to sign up

9 December 2011

Westlaw headnote logo used with permission by Westlaw.

Hey, this is pretty cool for us legal folks and other nerdy people out there. You can sign up for a FREE Westlaw headnote of the day. For those who have no clue what this is, a headnote is defined at Georgetown University Law Center this way:


Before a case is published in a reporter, an editor at West reads the case and selects the important issues of law. For each major issue, the editor then writes a short description called a headnote. These headnotes are typically found at the beginning of each opinion and help the reader to determine quickly the issue(s) discussed in the case. For example, here is the third headnote of a U.S. Supreme Court opinion, Gideon v.Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335:

3. Constitutional Law 268.2

Sixth Amendment to federal Constitution providing that in all criminal prosecutions the accused shall enjoy right to assistance of counsel for his defense is made obligatory on the states by the Fourteenth Amendment, and indigent defendant in criminal prosecution in state court has right to have counsel appointed for him. Betts v. Brady, 316 U.S. 455, 62 S.Ct 1252, overruled. U.S.C.A.Const. Amends, 6, 14.

The headnote describes one major issue in the case: whether an indigent defendant in a criminal prosecution in state court has the right to have counsel appointed for him. The broad topic assigned is “Constitutional Law,” the key number is 268.2.

For example, today in my email inbox I received the following “Headnote of the Day” from Westlaw:

December 9, 2011
Today’s Headnote [the key numbers below were all live links I could further click on if I was so inclined]:

120 Deeds
120I Requisites and Validity
120I(E) Validity
120k68 Capacity and Assent of Parties in General
120k68(3) k. Sickness or Extreme Age.

Defendant wrote a deed to the land in issue without any previous agreement with the owner as to its terms, or the latter’s consent to execute it, went to such owner’s home, and while he was dying, unconscious, and unable to raise his hand, and with his name subscribed to the instrument, raised him from his bed, took his helpless hand, touched it to a pen, and then with such pen made a cross mark, and wrote the words “his mark.” Such owner was wholly unconscious thereafter up to his death. Held, that such instrument was …..[have to go read the case below to see the outcome.]

Abee v. Bargas, 65 S.W. 489 (Tex. Civ. App. 1901)

Suggested by Robert Von Dohlen, Law Student; St. Mary’s University School of Law; San Antonio, TX

Or just sign up to receive your own headnote of the day delivered right to your inbox.

Pretty cool, eh? Thanks Westlaw!

Other Westlaw links that may interest you:

Westlaw Insider

FREE Westlaw newsletters

Take a tour of Westlaw Next

If interested, please visit my series on discovery:

What is discovery, and what are interrogatories?

What is a discovery subpoena?

Discovery II: What are requests for disclosure?

Discovery III: What are requests for admissions?

Discovery IV: What are requests for production?

Discovery V: Depositions–What is a deposition on written questions, or DWQ?


Sami K. Hartsfield, ACP is a paralegal and freelance writer based in Houston, Texas. She is a NALA Advanced Certified Paralegal, and has earned six specialty certifications since 2007: Discovery; Trial Practice; Contracts Management; Social Security Disability Law; and Entity & Individual Medical Liability. She has worked as a law firm Webmaster, law firm social media marketer, and ghostwriter for personal injury law firms. She holds a degree in paralegal studies with a 4.0 GPA and a bachelor of science degree in political science, graduating summa cum laude. Sami interned with Texas’ 14th Court of Appeals under Chief Justice Adele Hedges, and completed the University of Houston Law Center’s Summer 2008 Prelaw Institute with a 4.0. You can find her on Facebook and e-mail her with questions, comments, or ideas at

Sami Hartsfield



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