Start with the most recent series of the digest, West's Federal
Practice Digest 4th.
Locate the Descriptive Word Index volumes for the
digest set. Look up research terms to identify potentially
relevant topics and key numbers. Check the pocket parts
of index volumes to see if later terms have been added.
Look up the topics and key numbers in the main digest
volumes to find summaries of cases. Digests are organized
alphabetically by topic and then chronologically by
In addition to the main volume, recent cases may be
in a pocket part in the back of the book or in a separate
pamphlet supplement that covers the particular volume,
and/or in a paper supplement at the end of the set that
updates all topics and key numbers in that set. It usually
makes sense to start with the most recent supplement
and work backwards.
Record the citations of cases that appear to be relevant
to your research situation. Note that the digest may
include cases that are of persuasive value only; for
example, cases from other circuits or districts.