Brushing up on legal research before SA

(On Campus Interviews, Summer Associate positions, Firm Reviews, Tips, ...)
Forum rules
Anonymous Posting

Anonymous posting is only appropriate when you are revealing sensitive employment related information about a firm, job, etc. You may anonymously respond on topic to these threads. Unacceptable uses include: harassing another user, joking around, testing the feature, or other things that are more appropriate in the lounge.

Failure to follow these rules will get you outed, warned, or banned.
Anonymous User
Posts: 273603
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Brushing up on legal research before SA

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Dec 10, 2012 8:36 pm

2L with SA next summer. Want to minimize any chance of getting no offered. I can't take a legal research class next semester because it conflicts with my other classes. Should I buy a book and work through it on my own next semester? Or am I being too anal?

Thanks

User avatar
philosoraptor
Posts: 708
Joined: Wed Nov 25, 2009 2:49 am

Re: Brushing up on legal research before SA

Postby philosoraptor » Mon Dec 10, 2012 10:01 pm

Relax. Your firm will have training when you start, and a library staff and other resources to help you. WestlawNext may even give you a few free hours to hone your technique before you have to start charging the firm (or possibly clients). You might also have access to Bloomberg Law, which is free from your point of view.

Every SA is terrified of running up WL bills, and every firm knows that its SAs suck at doing research efficiently. Just don't be an idiot, and you'll be fine. Based on my paltry experience (and common sense), it's better to spend a little extra time (or run a few more searches) on WL than to get the law wrong or hand in an obviously incomplete memo.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273603
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Brushing up on legal research before SA

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Dec 11, 2012 1:41 am

philosoraptor wrote:Relax. Your firm will have training when you start, and a library staff and other resources to help you. WestlawNext may even give you a few free hours to hone your technique before you have to start charging the firm (or possibly clients). You might also have access to Bloomberg Law, which is free from your point of view.

Every SA is terrified of running up WL bills, and every firm knows that its SAs suck at doing research efficiently. Just don't be an idiot, and you'll be fine. Based on my paltry experience (and common sense), it's better to spend a little extra time (or run a few more searches) on WL than to get the law wrong or hand in an obviously incomplete memo.


OK cool, thanks

User avatar
bk1
Posts: 18426
Joined: Sun Mar 14, 2010 7:06 pm

Re: Brushing up on legal research before SA

Postby bk1 » Tue Dec 11, 2012 1:44 am

If want to be a complete ninja you can always run the search on LexisAdvance (free) and then pull the actual cases themselves from Google scholar (free).

User avatar
A. Nony Mouse
Posts: 22892
Joined: Tue Sep 25, 2012 11:51 am

Re: Brushing up on legal research before SA

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Dec 11, 2012 1:59 am

Is running up research bills still a thing? I mean, I get the point behind knowing how to do research efficiently so you can do a good, complete job within the time whoever gave you the assignment wants and succeed in the SA. But is cost still really an issue? Everywhere I've ever worked has gone to flat-rate plans, so cost-wise, it doesn't matter whether you use 10 or 100 cases for your research. (Leaving out smalllaw, which could well be different, but not usually what the people here mean when they talk about wanting to avoid getting no-offered from their SA...)

Anonymous User
Posts: 273603
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Brushing up on legal research before SA

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Dec 11, 2012 2:03 am

A. Nony Mouse wrote:Is running up research bills still a thing? I mean, I get the point behind knowing how to do research efficiently so you can do a good, complete job within the time whoever gave you the assignment wants and succeed in the SA. But is cost still really an issue? Everywhere I've ever worked has gone to flat-rate plans, so cost-wise, it doesn't matter whether you use 10 or 100 cases for your research. (Leaving out smalllaw, which could well be different, but not usually what the people here mean when they talk about wanting to avoid getting no-offered from their SA...)


The firm I summered at pays a flat rate but bills out research costs to clients per the pay-as-go rates (obviously SA time gets written off). If an associate were running up huge "bills" that would force the partner to have to write off more time (since the client would probably not be happy with a huge research bill). In the end I don't think this particularly matters to the firm's bottom line but they don't want to have to write off if they don't have to and would prefer you be efficient. I got emailed by a librarian early in the summer letting me know that I was being inefficient.

User avatar
A. Nony Mouse
Posts: 22892
Joined: Tue Sep 25, 2012 11:51 am

Re: Brushing up on legal research before SA

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Dec 11, 2012 2:11 am

Anonymous User wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:Is running up research bills still a thing? I mean, I get the point behind knowing how to do research efficiently so you can do a good, complete job within the time whoever gave you the assignment wants and succeed in the SA. But is cost still really an issue? Everywhere I've ever worked has gone to flat-rate plans, so cost-wise, it doesn't matter whether you use 10 or 100 cases for your research. (Leaving out smalllaw, which could well be different, but not usually what the people here mean when they talk about wanting to avoid getting no-offered from their SA...)


The firm I summered at pays a flat rate but bills out research costs to clients per the pay-as-go rates (obviously SA time gets written off). If an associate were running up huge "bills" that would force the partner to have to write off more time (since the client would probably not be happy with a huge research bill). In the end I don't think this particularly matters to the firm's bottom line but they don't want to have to write off if they don't have to and would prefer you be efficient. I got emailed by a librarian early in the summer letting me know that I was being inefficient.

Good to know. I was just always told not to worry about it, and never got told I was being inefficient (and I don't think it's because I was/am especially efficient!). Just wondered.

User avatar
Lincoln
Posts: 1032
Joined: Tue Nov 03, 2009 11:27 pm

Re: Brushing up on legal research before SA

Postby Lincoln » Tue Dec 11, 2012 2:49 am

At my SA if I couldn't find anything on point I would call the Westlaw research attorney, explain what I was looking for, and ask them to send me the result. That way, at least I knew I wasn't the one missing something glaring.

User avatar
Lasers
Posts: 1576
Joined: Sat Jul 10, 2010 6:46 pm

Re: Brushing up on legal research before SA

Postby Lasers » Tue Dec 11, 2012 4:05 am

Lincoln wrote:At my SA if I couldn't find anything on point I would call the Westlaw research attorney, explain what I was looking for, and ask them to send me the result. That way, at least I knew I wasn't the one missing something glaring.

i used that this past summer during my 1L job; never knew how useful those guys are. very good method to reaffirm you're not missing anything.

keg411
Posts: 5935
Joined: Tue Apr 21, 2009 9:10 pm

Re: Brushing up on legal research before SA

Postby keg411 » Tue Dec 11, 2012 11:42 am

bk1 wrote:If want to be a complete ninja you can always run the search on LexisAdvance (free) and then pull the actual cases themselves from Google scholar (free).


I did this :lol:. Shepardizing was also still free on LA as of this past summer.
Also, don't be ashamed to use the Lexis/WL helpdesk and the law librarians.

imchuckbass58
Posts: 1245
Joined: Mon Mar 16, 2009 3:24 pm

Re: Brushing up on legal research before SA

Postby imchuckbass58 » Tue Dec 11, 2012 12:17 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:Is running up research bills still a thing? I mean, I get the point behind knowing how to do research efficiently so you can do a good, complete job within the time whoever gave you the assignment wants and succeed in the SA. But is cost still really an issue? Everywhere I've ever worked has gone to flat-rate plans, so cost-wise, it doesn't matter whether you use 10 or 100 cases for your research. (Leaving out smalllaw, which could well be different, but not usually what the people here mean when they talk about wanting to avoid getting no-offered from their SA...)


The firm I summered at pays a flat rate but bills out research costs to clients per the pay-as-go rates (obviously SA time gets written off). If an associate were running up huge "bills" that would force the partner to have to write off more time (since the client would probably not be happy with a huge research bill). In the end I don't think this particularly matters to the firm's bottom line but they don't want to have to write off if they don't have to and would prefer you be efficient. I got emailed by a librarian early in the summer letting me know that I was being inefficient.


The other issue is that flat rate plans are usually renegotiated every couple of years based on actual usage. So if a firm on average runs 40 searches per associate per month versus an average of 30 at the average firm, Westlaw will factor that in when pricing their flat rate plan. Or so I've been told.

imchuckbass58
Posts: 1245
Joined: Mon Mar 16, 2009 3:24 pm

Re: Brushing up on legal research before SA

Postby imchuckbass58 » Tue Dec 11, 2012 12:21 pm

philosoraptor wrote:Relax. Your firm will have training when you start, and a library staff and other resources to help you. WestlawNext may even give you a few free hours to hone your technique before you have to start charging the firm (or possibly clients). You might also have access to Bloomberg Law, which is free from your point of view.


Yeah, at my school both Lexis and Westlaw offered both generalized cost-efficient research classes and practice-specific pre-SA classes (both free - like 1 hour during lunch), which were marginally helpful. That can be a good refresher going into the summer.

The tip about using your firm's library staff / westlaw rep is key. The rule of thumb we were given is if we weren't finding something after 10 minutes or 3 searches, to call up the library and/or our firm westlaw rep and work with them to tailor a search. Usually does the trick.

Stinson
Posts: 257
Joined: Tue Mar 23, 2010 12:01 am

Re: Brushing up on legal research before SA

Postby Stinson » Tue Dec 11, 2012 12:26 pm

If your experience is anything like mine, if you are in an environment in which you can run up big research bills the firm will spend plenty of time educating you on how to avoid it.

User avatar
somewhatwayward
Posts: 1446
Joined: Wed Sep 30, 2009 5:10 pm

Re: Brushing up on legal research before SA

Postby somewhatwayward » Tue Dec 11, 2012 12:27 pm

If there is any way to change your schedule to enable you to take the advanced legal research class, I would recommend it. It was on Fridays at my school, which was unfortunate, but it was really, really helpful, probably the most useful class I took in law school. You can always call the WL or LN hotlines that people have been mentioning to get help, but it is nice to be somewhat competent yourself. I didn't call the hotline at all last summer. I also didn't spend a single firm dollar on research (although you shouldn't be scared to if necessary) because for awhile we had free WL/LN logins, Bloomberg was free all summer, and my firm had access to a lot of treatises that would point me toward cases or statutes I could pull up on Bloomberg or Google Scholar. Another resource I like is LexisWeb, which searches internet websites that have been vetted by Lexis. It is free.

User avatar
Uncle.Joe
Posts: 127
Joined: Thu Nov 01, 2012 4:40 pm

Re: Brushing up on legal research before SA

Postby Uncle.Joe » Tue Dec 11, 2012 1:37 pm

Why not just use your school WL account? Are you guys shut out during the summer? I am not

User avatar
bk1
Posts: 18426
Joined: Sun Mar 14, 2010 7:06 pm

Re: Brushing up on legal research before SA

Postby bk1 » Tue Dec 11, 2012 1:40 pm

Uncle.Joe wrote:Why not just use your school WL account? Are you guys shut out during the summer? I am not

You realize this is against Westlaw and Lexis rules, right?

User avatar
JazzOne
Posts: 2938
Joined: Tue Sep 09, 2008 11:04 am

Re: Brushing up on legal research before SA

Postby JazzOne » Tue Dec 11, 2012 1:43 pm

Uncle.Joe wrote:Why not just use your school WL account? Are you guys shut out during the summer? I am not

lol

User avatar
piccolittle
Posts: 1118
Joined: Mon Oct 06, 2008 4:16 pm

Re: Brushing up on legal research before SA

Postby piccolittle » Tue Dec 11, 2012 3:58 pm

somewhatwayward wrote:If there is any way to change your schedule to enable you to take the advanced legal research class, I would recommend it. It was on Fridays at my school, which was unfortunate, but it was really, really helpful, probably the most useful class I took in law school.

So glad to hear that! I was planning to take it because I am terrible and really inefficient at research, and all my friends are looking at me like I grew a second head.

User avatar
Lasers
Posts: 1576
Joined: Sat Jul 10, 2010 6:46 pm

Re: Brushing up on legal research before SA

Postby Lasers » Tue Dec 11, 2012 8:09 pm

bk1 wrote:
Uncle.Joe wrote:Why not just use your school WL account? Are you guys shut out during the summer? I am not

You realize this is against Westlaw and Lexis rules, right?

seriously, is it?

i was specifically notified that i had westlaw next and lexis advance access over the summer last year.

keg411
Posts: 5935
Joined: Tue Apr 21, 2009 9:10 pm

Re: Brushing up on legal research before SA

Postby keg411 » Tue Dec 11, 2012 8:11 pm

Lasers wrote:
bk1 wrote:
Uncle.Joe wrote:Why not just use your school WL account? Are you guys shut out during the summer? I am not

You realize this is against Westlaw and Lexis rules, right?

seriously, is it?

i was specifically notified that i had westlaw next and lexis advance access over the summer last year.


You can have access but you're only supposed to use it for things like journal and I think certain public interest jobs qualify. If you have a law firm job of any type DO NOT use your own Lexis/WL over the summer. You will get one, and you have to learn how to do cost-effective research eventually (or try and get into corporate :lol:).

User avatar
bk1
Posts: 18426
Joined: Sun Mar 14, 2010 7:06 pm

Re: Brushing up on legal research before SA

Postby bk1 » Tue Dec 11, 2012 8:27 pm

keg411 wrote:
Lasers wrote:
bk1 wrote:
Uncle.Joe wrote:Why not just use your school WL account? Are you guys shut out during the summer? I am not

You realize this is against Westlaw and Lexis rules, right?

seriously, is it?

i was specifically notified that i had westlaw next and lexis advance access over the summer last year.


You can have access but you're only supposed to use it for things like journal and I think certain public interest jobs qualify. If you have a law firm job of any type DO NOT use your own Lexis/WL over the summer. You will get one, and you have to learn how to do cost-effective research eventually (or try and get into corporate :lol:).


This (or if you have summer school). I know tons of people do it and many sketchy firms pick up students over the summer to use their free access to WL/LN.

User avatar
IAFG
Posts: 6665
Joined: Mon Jun 15, 2009 1:26 pm

Re: Brushing up on legal research before SA

Postby IAFG » Tue Dec 11, 2012 8:57 pm

People worry waaay too much about their WL expenses. It's not nearly as big a deal as 2Ls think it will be.

User avatar
20160810
Posts: 19648
Joined: Fri May 02, 2008 1:18 pm

Re: Brushing up on legal research before SA

Postby 20160810 » Tue Dec 11, 2012 9:16 pm

The firm I worked at as a SA had a flat rate subscription to WestlawNext, so it wasn't an issue. I was under the impression that this was generally the case now. In any event, just noodle around with the interface a bit while you're still in school and have free Westlaw access, get yourself familiar with the terms and connectors searches. Also, if it's in your plan, phone their reference attorneys as often as possible. Those guys helped me out of about a dozen jams.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273603
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Brushing up on legal research before SA

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Dec 11, 2012 9:46 pm

If you know the specific areas of law you will be involved in as a SA, I recommend you previewing them a bit. A good and simple way to do so would be to read the client memo, guides or other legal insight articles from your summer firm's website. I knew which area of law I would be doing for the summer so I studied up the materials from my firm's website. The offer rate was 100% so it probably didn't make a difference, but I did find that in the first few weeks I was ahead of my fellow summers in figuring out how to finish our assignments.

shock259
Posts: 1737
Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2010 2:30 am

Re: Brushing up on legal research before SA

Postby shock259 » Wed Dec 12, 2012 10:38 am

piccolittle wrote:
somewhatwayward wrote:If there is any way to change your schedule to enable you to take the advanced legal research class, I would recommend it. It was on Fridays at my school, which was unfortunate, but it was really, really helpful, probably the most useful class I took in law school.

So glad to hear that! I was planning to take it because I am terrible and really inefficient at research, and all my friends are looking at me like I grew a second head.


Me too! But I forgot to include it in my original preregistration stuff. Oops. Hopefully I can get it during add/drop ...

Also, I have no idea how to research. And I haven't opened up WL/Lexis since 1L. Meh.




Return to “Legal Employment”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.