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 key number.
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.