Anonymous User wrote:
Anyone have suggestions what an incoming SA might want to brush up on before the start of the summer? I'm leaning toward litigation, so maybe FRCP?
1) Grammar, usage, and style
2) time (and to a lesser extent, cost) efficient legal research
How does a person prepare for 2? It is by far my biggest worry for this summer. Im just "All state and fed" on WL Next at school. Not good at research. I also don't know what qualifies as time and cost efficient. How does one know they're good at research?
Here are a few things I remember having used repeatedly to save time and cost doing research as an SA (assuming your firm will have WestLaw and not WestLawNext):
1) Realize that you can choose billing that is either "By Transaction" or "By the Hour". You can set this under your preferences. When you're using "By Transaction," you'll pay for searching a database, viewing a case, and printing a case. Figure out when to use each (i.e. if you know exactly what you want, use "By the Hour", but if you may need to run a broad search and scan the results to find the case you want, use "By Transaction"). You can use a combination of billing in the same hunt for cases. If you find a case that mentions several other useful cases, get the first one using "By Transaction." Then log off and log back on and just enter the citations for all the other cases you need.
2) Run broad searches that will return all the relevant cases from the particular database you are using. Then run locates (I believe these are free after you have run the broad search) to narrow your results. The good thing about doing it this way is that you can rerun your locate if you are not getting the results that you want.
3) Learn the database identifiers (cta1, cta9, cta, sct, etc...). This will simply help with efficiency -- you will get to the right set of cases much more quickly than using the directory.
4) Begin practicing writing search strings now using Terms & Connectors (as opposed to Natural Language). The following are very useful:
/s - Find the words on either side of the connector in the same sentence
/p - Find the words on either side of the connector in the same paragraph
/n - Find the words on either side of the connector within n words of each other
This will help you get back cases which are relevant if you combine the right terms. Take a few minutes to understand the legal issue so you can generate a search string that will return cases relevant to your issue. Figuring out your search up front will save you a lot of time because you're less likely to be scanning irrelevant cases. Use the root expander (!) to return different forms of words you are looking for.
5) Call WestLaw if you can't figure out how to find what you're looking for. They will walk you through your search and send you a search string.
6) Do not get too hung up on saving costs. You should find the stuff you need to get your work done. If you're too frugal, you could miss something. But don't go overboard and run 1000s of searches and click on every case that is returned or stay logged on in hourly pricing all day for a whole week. That's how you rack up the $10,000 WL charge.