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Tag: Legal Research

Internet Research

How to use government websites to perform free legal and legislative research

March 19, 2018

The phrases “legal research” or “legislative research” often conjure up images of signing into an online subscription resource to find everything one might need; however, using subscription resources is not a viable option for all lawyers in all situations.  Luckily, several websites provide free and reliable legal and legislative information for


Everyday work practices and techniques for new lawyers

August 28, 2017

The day to day life of a young lawyer is one of the aspects of the profession that is almost impossible to teach during the law school.  In my first post, I talked about working on your work product. While the nature of a specific practice will certainly

James Comey

The audacity of 'I Hope' – 2 law school lessons from the James Comey hearings

June 09, 2017

It is not even halfway through 2017, and already, it has been a fascinating year for those practicing in fields of law that intersect with the law at the highest levels of government. We've had the continuing travels of President Donald Trump's executive order on travel limitations from several predominantly Muslim

The Legal Research Survival Manual

Outwit, Outwork, Outlast: Legal research survival tips

April 03, 2017

Legal research gets a lousy deal in legal education.  When you arrive as a first year student you are enrolled into mandatory classes that take a deep dive into the Common Law.  You will wrestle with the Rule Against Perpetuities and try to wrap your head around the Statute of


Ask the Hiring Attorney: How can I sound qualified?

May 19, 2016

Substantive knowledge is generally not a condition of employment for entry-level lawyers. Employers typically don’t expect current law school students and recent graduates to have much substantive or working knowledge of practice areas, especially those entry-level lawyers who have had little or no work experience. Your first challenge isn’t to sound more qualified; it’s to become more qualified!

Tech tools to simplify legal research and writing

March 01, 2016

If there’s one class law students love to hate, it’s Legal Research and Writing. Although it’s clear LRW is important—arguably it’s the most important class you’ll take as a 1L—the reality is that it can take over your life if you’re not careful.

Legal research with no down payment: 7 cost-effective research tools

January 01, 2016

By Erin McClarty ERIN MCCLARTY leads a global division legal department at CGG in Houston. She also works with nonprofit organizations and writes about her experiences on her blog Notations on Non-Profits. There’s an unfamiliar topic you need to research. Scrolling through tarot ads and irrelevant search results isn’t appealing. But you

Use terms and connectors for precise search results

April 01, 2015

By Catherine M. Dunn   CATHERINE M. DUNN ( is head of reference services at the University of Connecticut School of Law Library and adjunct professor of law at UConn School of Law in Hartford. When given a new legal research project, do

Let’s Hit the Links?

February 01, 2015

By Mark Cooney Mark Cooney ( is a professor at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School, where he teaches research and writing and advanced writing. On the ninth hole at Blackacre Golf Club, two first-year law students indulge in a rare moment of relaxation: “Ya gonna waggle and twitch until I’m eligible for

Taming Legal Information Overload

April 01, 2014

It happens every year. A student sits in my office and asks for a life jacket—figuratively, of course. They’re drowning in legal information. It’s a common problem. Legal researchers today deal with a rising sea of legal information. In 2012, for example, the US Courts of Appeals and District Courts published

Local Ordinances: The Often Overlooked Laws

February 01, 2014

Quarterbacks. Wide receivers. Running backs. They get all the hype. Offensive linemen? Not so much. And, while it defies logic that such enormous men could be overlooked, they may very well be invisible to the casual football fan. Like an offensive line, local government law is often overlooked. Federal and state

Smart Researchers Save Time by Starting with Legal Treatises

December 01, 2013

“I will not reinvent the wheel.” Say it a few times. Memorize it. Make it your legal research mantra. There’s simply no need to do work that’s already been done. You already have enough to do. In most cases, what you’ll be asked to research isn’t totally new. Someone has

Restatements: An Influential Secondary Source

October 01, 2013

Nobel laureate Niels Bohr once remarked, “It is difficult to predict, especially the future.” Such was the case with Proposition 8 and the Restatement of Agency at the end of the Supreme Court’s latest term. Few likely foresaw that a Restatement would feature prominently in the back and forth between

The Importance of Legal Research

April 01, 2013

I doubt Steven Spielberg thought anyone watching Lincoln would think about legal research, but that’s what happened to me. In one pivotal scene, Lincoln and his Cabinet gather to discuss the proposed amendment abolishing slavery. Various Cabinet members are opposed to supporting an amendment they see as unlikely to pass

Transactional Law Research

February 01, 2013

A focus on litigation in TV and movies is unsurprising in that the courtroom provides a stage for drama. What is surprising is that law schools, the training ground for real lawyers, have traditionally shared a similar focus on litigation. This is problematic because many law students will become transactional

Becoming a Cost-effective Researcher

December 01, 2012

Unfortunately, however, it’s easy to get through law school with little understanding of the real-world costs of legal research. As a law student, Westlaw and Lexis are virtually handed to you on a silver platter. Your library pays for access, so you never see a bill. Not only that, but

Litigation Practice Materials

October 01, 2012

Law students and young lawyers often have little experience in creating the actual documents upon which a court case is founded. Whether it’s a subpoena duces tecum, a motion for summary judgment, or a complaint—the very foundational document on which a civil lawsuit is based—law students don’t get much hands-on

Lexis Advance

April 01, 2012

While LEXIS spearheaded the change in legal research, it too has changed over the years. It eventually abandoned the capitalized “LEXIS” and became LexisNexis. Various versions have come and gone until today it has arrived at its newest iteration, Lexis Advance, which attempts to move the legal research system into

Becoming a Better Online Researcher

February 01, 2012

Pavlov’s dogs are famous for salivating at the sound of a bell. As you might remember, the reason wasn’t that the bell looked particularly appetizing, but that the dogs became accustomed to being fed when the bell rang. Eventually, the sound of the bell, even without the food, triggered a

Getting to Know Administrative Decisions

December 01, 2011

G.I. Joe was a favorite cartoon of mine growing up. I don't remember much about it now, but I do remember that each episode ended with a public service announcement of sorts. Here's how it went every time: Kid is about to do something dangerous (electrocute himself, hide in a

Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Statutes

October 01, 2011

While case law has the run of the law school curriculum, statutes are often relegated to secondary status. Don’t get me wrong. Case law is critical for legal research. But law school has an almost obsessive relationship with case law that dates back to Christopher Columbus Langdell and the Socratic Method.

WestlawNext: Westlaw’s Next Generation Research System

December 01, 2010

January 1, 2011, all law students will have access to WestlawNext—the next generation of Westlaw. So, let’s take a look at some of the changes coming to one of the premier legal research systems. One change you’ll like is the new look. Ever

Legal Encyclopedias: Research “Well Begun”

October 01, 2010

Well begun is half done. The old saying applies to legal research just as it does to much of life. Finding a good place to start makes a big difference in how quickly and productively you research. Legal encyclopedias are some of the best tools for ensuring that a legal