Legal Research

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snowpeach06
Posts: 2426
Joined: Thu Apr 16, 2009 5:32 am

Legal Research

Postby snowpeach06 » Sun May 08, 2011 6:46 pm

Is anyone else really concerned that that while they learned how to do legal research, they don't really remember how to do legal research? Is there a website or something devoted to it, or do I have to use those tutorials they give?

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YourCaptain
Posts: 719
Joined: Sun Feb 13, 2011 11:26 pm

Re: Legal Research

Postby YourCaptain » Sun May 08, 2011 6:50 pm

I am closing my eyes and hoping that they signed the brutal contract with ThomasReuters and have WestlawNext.

I had to use Westlaw the other day and was legitimately lost.

BeenDidThat
Posts: 704
Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2011 12:18 am

Re: Legal Research

Postby BeenDidThat » Sun May 08, 2011 7:13 pm

I'm kind of worried. For my internship this summer I intend on hitting the stacks first to narrow down my research and then make a targeted Westlaw/Lexis search once I get the language down to see most relevant recent cases. I don't want to be the guy who runs up a $10,000 research bill.

If you're really worried about it, ask a supervisor the basic outline of how they are billed and for tips. As long as you aren't irritating about it, I think the people you're working for will appreciate someone looking to be cost-effective.

Also, research isn't as hard as it seems. Look for highly cited cases that haven't been overruled...they tend to state the law very well.

LurkerNoMore
Posts: 237
Joined: Thu Oct 09, 2008 12:05 pm

Re: Legal Research

Postby LurkerNoMore » Mon May 09, 2011 7:44 am

Posted something similar to this in another thread. I'm too lazy to go find it, so I'll recap what I remember.

1. When you get your assignment, ask the person who gave it to you if they have any suggestions for starting points. Very often they will either have a case, document, search terms, or treatise to offer up.

2. Talk to the librarians (if have them -- if you don't, consider calling your law school librarians if you really get stuck). Firms often subscribe to specialized resources that will save you a ton of time over regular WL/Lexis research.

3. Google. Before you hit up WL/Lexis google your topic. This will usually get you to terms of art that will save you time and money on WL/Lexis.

4. Google Scholar. See what you can get out of it. But do not stop at this step, even if you think you've found a slam dunk case. You need to run that that through shepards/keycite.

5. Now you can move on to WL/Lexis. You should have search terms/case names and idea of the database you need to search. Choose the narrowest database that will get you what you need. Then search with the broadest set of search terms you can think of. (Remember, the larger the database, the more the search costs. Each new search costs money, but searching within search results doesn't.)

6. Save your research. You don't want to rerun searches you've already run. Save the files in electronic form. You'll be amazed how many times you'll skim a case and think it's not useful and then, a few days later remember there was "some case" that used a particular phrase that you now realize is totally on point. If you've saved the cases you've pulled, you can search your computer for the phrase you remember. This also helps when you are double checking pincites.

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snowpeach06
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Re: Legal Research

Postby snowpeach06 » Mon May 09, 2011 8:58 pm

Thanks for the above. Of course today I get this assignment, and I'm not even sure how to do it. I got no case file, just a "here is a 2 sentence summary of this case, find me stuff." And then I go, "I can't really find any cases," and the guy goes "Yeah, they probably don't really exist." I have no idea what to do.

LurkerNoMore
Posts: 237
Joined: Thu Oct 09, 2008 12:05 pm

Re: Legal Research

Postby LurkerNoMore » Tue May 10, 2011 7:43 am

Are you at a firm? If so, talk to the librarians (if you have them) and see if there are any specialize databases on the topic. There are often resources that produce "newsletters" on issues. They will often have discussions of emerging issues.

If you have an actual case, try Pacer. If you look up the docket number, you can get the filings and check out the complaint and responses. These are often awesome resources.

You can also call WL/Lexis and have them construct a search for you, so that you at least have a good idea that you are looking in the right place.

Looking for a negative is tough.

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mths
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Re: Legal Research

Postby mths » Wed May 11, 2011 8:22 pm

Hijacking the thread for a hot minute:

When you're working as an RA the school extends your student lexis/westlaw subscription for the summer. Does anyone know if its the exact same unlimited style as the one you get while in school?

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Borhas
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Re: Legal Research

Postby Borhas » Wed May 11, 2011 8:56 pm

they both have all sorts of tutorials, if you actually try to actively learn instead of hoping it all be streamlined and intuitive, you won't have a problem

on the plus side WL Next is dope, and LexisNexis is trying out a beta version of LN Advance, and that's supposed to be the equivalent of WL Next... so hopefully in a few years it'll the clunky versions will be abandoned (though I bet they won't be for a while)




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