Help a 0L with legal research (plz)

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Help a 0L with legal research (plz)

Postby airwrecka » Wed Apr 12, 2017 4:57 pm

Hi all.

I just need some tips on doing legal research as a 0L. I'm a legal assistant at a *very* small firm, and my boss just asked me to do some research for a case. Great. But he told me to use Google Scholar to do it -__- Maybe I'm missing something, but Google Scholar does not seem like the best website to do legal research, because it's really hard to limit the search terms as you would on sites that are specifically dedicated to legal research (a previous attorney gave me his login credentials to a site called Caselaw (? I think?) which was super helpful).

Are there any alternative (free) sites I can do case research on, other than Google Scholar? Is there a better way to use Google Scholar for case research? Should I tell my boss to suck it up and to do the research himself?

FWIW - the case he wants research on at this moment is whether our client can sue a trucking company for modifying the engine of a vehicle (which our client subsequently purchased) so that the engine no longer meets EPA standards and our client was not informed of this before the sale.

Please remember I'm not a lawyer and not even a law student yet so I know this all sounds really dumb. My boss is being ridiculously unhelpful so I came here to the internet land of lawyers.


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Re: Help a 0L with legal research (plz)

Postby cavalier1138 » Wed Apr 12, 2017 5:01 pm

I assume your boss is trying to avoid racking up charges on Westlaw/LEXIS.

I've never used Google Scholar, but after poking around for a minute, it looks like you just tell it you're interested in case law and start with some search terms.

Edit: doesn't look like it'll help you with subsequent citation to that ruling, so that sucks for your boss.


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Re: Help a 0L with legal research (plz)

Postby sprezz » Wed Apr 12, 2017 10:43 pm

it does help with subsequent citation, a little. you click "how cited".

e.g.: link

you can also click the down arrow on the right side of the search box to get an advanced search menu, which will give you basic boolean options as well as article prompts that more or less work for cases (e.g. you can use scalia in author box to get opinions written by him; you can put F.3d in the published in box to get cases published in that reporter, etc.)

best to start on normal google and try to find an article that gives you some cases to find, as the search algorithms for cases for specific fact patterns are not going to be helpful.

this is not an efficient way to do exhaustive research compared to someone who knows how to use westlaw or lexis using those services. but if you embrace the stupidity and just get trigger happy and switch between google scholar and normal google, you can find a lot of stuff for free. and asking a 0L to do legal research isn't supposed to be as efficient as asking someone who knows how to use westlaw and lexis to use those services. but it is a whole lot cheaper.


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Re: Help a 0L with legal research (plz)

Postby foregetaboutdre » Wed Apr 12, 2017 10:52 pm

I can't remember if it's just for law students, but I think ravel law might let you use it for free.

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