Here in St. Louis, ZiefBrief got a first look at a brand new Westlaw database, "50 State Regulatory Surveys" (REG-SURVEYS).
Government executive agency regulations (the third leg of the primary law triad of cases, statutes and regulations) don't seem to get much exposure in the law school curriculum, yet out in law practice most clients' affairs will be subject to any number of federal and state regulations. And clients doing business across the country will be subject to regulations from all 50 states.
Yet searching state by state to identify rules and regulations affecting a client (or relating to an issue in an academic paper or article) used to be, well, beyond awful doesn't even begin to describe it.
Westlaw's REG-SURVEYS database alleviates much of the pain. The West editors have already searched out and listed the regulations from each state that bear on each topic. All you have to do is use the "table of contents" to browse the topics for the issue at hand, or enter a regular Westlaw search.
West launched REG-SURVEYS last Friday with about 60 surveys in 4 broad categories (blue sky laws, employment, health care, and insurance), and more surveys are in the works.
One warning for the folks who aren't lucky enough to qualify for a law school Westlaw account: proceed with fiscal caution. The scope information for the REG-SURVEYS contains the chilling (at least to a law firm librarian) advisory: "'Super Allfiles' billing rate applies to this Premier Advantage database." That's about as much as you can pay for Westlaw searching, so consult with your librarian or a West research attorney for cost-saving tips before wading in to the REG-SURVEYS.
[Update: 12.13.2006. If you are doing 50-state statutory research, see our post 50-State Statute Surveys - Making an Onerous Research Task a Little Easier.]