INTRODUCTION TO LEGAL RESEARCH What is legal research? Some say legal research is basically finding whatever information is needed in the practice of law. This includes legal and factual research. A researcher may need to comb through a client’s file, his medical records, his business records, or other such information. To perform legal research correctly, a researcher must know what resources exist, how to find them, how to use them and how to update them, or make sure they are current. This all has to be done under the pressure of deadlines! The purposes of legal research and writing consist of the following: - to define (or state) the law - to apply the law to the facts of a particular case. This process of applying the law to the facts is called “legal reasoning” or “thinking like a lawyer.” Researchers should observe the following rules: 1. 2. 3. Give priority to cases from the jurisdiction in which the case being Search for the most recent ruling of a case. Check the pocket part in the back of almost all law books. The pocket part is the most frequently used device for updating law books. researched is located.
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Pay attention to dates on books, i.e., copyright date and date of pocket parts. Be aware of “2d” and “3d” citations. They distinguish one series from another. All legal citations are written with the volume number first, an abbreviation of the title, and the page number. EX: 152 P.2d 967, 144 A.L.R. 422.
Remember client confidentiality.