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Legal Research: Tips and Tricks Legal Research: Tips and Tricks

Bronze medal Reporter Adv. Alex Posted 12 Jun 2019 Read More News and Blogs
Legal Research: Tips and Tricks

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One of the most labor-intensive tasks that support staff must attempt is legal research.  Regardless of whether you're very familiar with the domain of the law that you’re considering, or just starting to take on this responsibility in your law firm, there are numerous approaches to turn out to be better at conducting legal research. What are the best tips, tools, and methods to use for legal research? 

Make sure you understand the issue properly

First up all make sure you understand the issue. There’s nothing like spending hours researching only to have the lawyer tell you that you’ve missed the point. Take notes if the request is given verbally and ask for clarification on the off chance that you don't see explicitly what's required. When law students first begin to conduct legal research, they mistakenly cast too broad a net when it comes to jurisdiction. Desperate to find applicable law, students often look to states other than the proper jurisdiction to find relevant case law. Cases from some other states, however, are persuasive authority, not compulsory. 

Use Resources Effectively

Know nothing related to the issue? Start with alternate resources – so you know the leading cases, statutes, and commentators in that domain. In the present world, there are a lot of online resources are available. Maybe that can be a valuable starting point for the main practice areas. If you enter one word into a search box it will retrieve 10,000 or more results. So use online resources very effectively. Google has various advanced search strategies that will enable you to look for phrases and can restrict your search to specific times and certain sites or domains.

Ask for help

This does not mean delegating the assignment, but relying on the experts. Conversation with someone that deals with your issue may provide an answer or get you started with the best resources.  Law librarians can suggest resources and strategies of research. If you don’t have a librarian in your firm or area you can get it from your state or county law library. You can also get advice from lawyers in South Africa.


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