On Thursday, the landmark decision National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, better known as the Affordable Care Act decision, was decided 5-4 by the Supreme Court of the United States. The nation rushed for reliable resources to read the full text of the opinion and to gain insight on what the ruling meant, in light of the multiple opinions issued by the justices. Many Westlaw and WestlawNext customers had a deeper and more pressing interest in the case – the decision had a direct bearing on a practice area they specialize in or even a case they were working on.

“The gold standard for loading a Supreme Court case onto Westlaw is five minutes or less,” said David Spencer, vice president, Legal Editorial Operations, in an interview Thursday. “We were able to provide access to the case in less than a minute.” Even while the case was being loaded to Westlaw in that first minute, the editorial work on the Affordable Care Act decision had already begun. The Thomson Reuters Westlaw 22-step editorial process was under way – editors, attorney editors and publishing specialists had their instructions – and they began enhancing the opinion with links and attorney-authored analysis.

Throughout the day, the team added KeyCite direct history (analysis of the changes in legal precedent created by the decision); links within the case to oral arguments, briefs and other court docket materials; CodeNotes and negative indirect history; and topical highlights. Before 8 pm Central time, the fully enhanced opinion was intact on WestlawNext.

Loren Singer, principal attorney editor, and Chip Allen, senior principal attorney editor, wrote the synopses or summary of the ruling and defined the 37 points of law in compact headnotes, and a 10-person classification team, with a combined 242 years of legal expertise at Thomson Reuters, applied 35 Key Numbers across 12 legal topics within the West Key Number System.

These editorial enhancements – created by legal professionals for legal professionals – allow legal research to be faster and more complete, and provide insight for the legal practitioner on the application of the law today and into the future.


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