Sail Into Summer

Sail Into Summer

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER Research from Start to Finish There must be some law on this. Write me a memo.

Dont panic! You know more than

you think you do. The Research Process is Recursive Research Process is Recursive

Get familiar with the problem Pre-research governing law substantive area Initial search for authorities - preliminary understanding of legal context

Refine understanding Focus search for authorities, updating, etc. A little advice make friends with your court or firm librarian.

Attend the library orientation.

Ask about in-house databases, newsletters and practitioner materials on your topic.

ASK QUESTIONS!! Before you begin Understand the assignment

Get familiar with your

problem Listen and take notes Read underlying documents Ask questions Resources online or print? Money constraints?

Time Frame? Before you begin Plan your research How much time?

Which resources?

Terms of art? Search queries?

More advice Follow good research habits Get familiar with your problem: Pre-research analysis

What general area of law am I dealing with? Do I know anything about this area? Does my workplace have a central electronic file of memos, briefs, forms, transactional documents, etc.? Is an in-house expert willing to talk with

me? Federal law or state law or both? If state law, what state? Analyze the Facts

Analyze the facts (who, what, when, where, why)

Preliminary Analysis

Inter-relationship between legal theory and facts Relief client seeks Procedure

Make an Outline Initial Search for Authorities May be unnecessary given results of preresearch In-house document may explain legal context In-house expert may help understand legal

context If area is unfamiliar, begin with what you know & what you have easy access to - Refine understanding of problem

Ask more questions in light of initial research Factual questions Type of transaction Reality-test ideas (if you have a sounding board)

Scope out further lines of research, e.g.: Additional cause of action Additional legal theory More Focused Search

Itself a recursive/reflexive process Use finding tools Locate authorities Update authorities Read authorities For substantive content

To find additional authorities Step back to reflect on findings and evaluate results. Research Pathways Familiar area

Unfamiliar area Appropriate secondary source available Appropriate

secondary source unavailable Research in a familiar area May be an area you are familiar with through pre-research

Make sure that you really are familiar Factual similarity Procedural/transactional similarity Begin with known sources in appropriate hierarchy (const., statute & regs, cases)

Update Unfamiliar area? Start with a Secondary Source law review articles encyclopedias

treatises nutshells hornbooks ALR annotations About Secondary Sources

Treatises ARE good! Distinguish between: Secondary sources useful as finding aids/background Secondary sources you can cite.

Start with secondary source if you find a statute:

Note effective date Read text of statute & cross- referenced statutes Browse surrounding sections & case annotations Look for references to regulations

Look at TOC for other relevant statutes Update all sections to make sure you have the section in effect at relevant point in time Use notes of decision to identify and list cases interpreting relevant statutory language

If you find a statute - continued Specifically, youre looking for: Definitional sections Sections on construction Cases interpreting the statutory language References to regulations

Congressional findings & purpose Start with secondary source if no statute Look for cases

If there is a leading case, read it for further citations Mine it for topics and key numbers Double-check with a word search that omits topics/key numbers Shepardize or KeyCite to expand research

Shepardize or KeyCite to validate (update). If you start with primary materials - look for a governing statute Use two independent methods Index to relevant code (on-line or in print)

Natural language search If you start with primary materials and no governing statute Try West Digests for your jurisdiction Descriptive word index search for topic/key

number Natural language search Reserve terms & connectors search For more targeted searching once you have familiarity with the language used For special field searching

Then follow same process as when you start with a secondary source Three #@%! hours on Westlaw and nothing to show for itnow what do I do?

Ask if there are other sources you should look at. Make sure you understand the question.

10-minute rule Before you go online Get background about your topic and write out your search.

Search in the smallest database possible. If youre having trouble formulating a search:

ask a librarian call Wexis 1-800- Effective Online Research Segment/field search for precision

searching Use Focus (Lexis) & Locate (Westlaw) Email to yourself Use the TOC Book Browse (Lexis)

Next / Previous section (Westlaw) More Online Tips Search the smallest

appropriate database Update with Shepards / KeyCite to find cases and/or pending legislation

Which approach is best? Secondary sources give you a coherent picture of the law, but may not be comprehensive. Keyword searches, digests, annotated codes

are more exhaustive, but dont evaluate the material. Westlaw & Lexis headnote are more efficient for finding cases by issue than by fact pattern.

Keyword searches online are good for finding cases by fact pattern, but less efficient for finding cases on procedural issues, and not always accurate or complete.

Research process is recursive: Get familiar with problem Pre-research governing law, substantive area

Initial search for preliminary understanding

of legal context Refine understanding of problem More focused search for authorities, updating, etc.

Am I done yet? Did you? Review your assignment and research plan? Consider alternative theories or lines of research?

Look in all important places? secondary sources use 2 methods to find statutes & check an annotated code

use 2 case finding methods Update primary materials? closure DISCUSSION QUESTION Youre scheduled to meet with your

boss, Shari Partner, to talk about a new case she wants you to work on. Ms. Partner has told you that the case involves the circumstances under which a successor corporation can be

held liable for products of its predecessor in a products liability case. Youre clueless, but you want to make a good impression when you talk with her. Where would you

look to get some background about this issue? 1. Under what circumstances can a successor corporation be held liable for products of its predecessor in a products liability case?

When youre not an expert, start with secondary sources to get an overview of the topic and cites to cases/statutes:

encyclopedias (AmJur [Lexis & Westlaw], CJS [Westlaw]) ALR annotations [Westlaw & Lexis] books/articles

Treatises and Nutshells AmJur encyclopedia provides a general rule, a brief overview of the law, and citations to primary authorities.

ALR is available on Lexis and Westlaw and in print in the law library. ALR provides detailed analysis in selected topics and citations to relevant cases, statutes and regulations.

Search LegalTrac for journal articles Search the library catalog for nutshells and other treatises.

DISCUSSION QUESTION Youve been asked to write a memo on the question of whether corporal punishment in public schools violates students constitutional rights.

You remember reading a Supreme Court case in law school called Ingraham v. Wright thats right on point. How would you find the Ingraham case and other cases on the same subject?

2. Find the cite for INGRAHAM v. WRIGHT. Westlaw: FIND or field search Lexis: GET A

DOCUMENT or segment search Free/inexpensive websites Table of Cases in print digest

Free & Low-Cost Legal Research 2. How do you find more cases that address the same issue as INGRAHAM v. WRIGHT? Use the features of Lexis

& Westlaw!!! Westlaw: Topic/key number search using headnotes from your case

Lexis: More Like This Core Terms Headnotes (All or More Like This Headnote)

Use terminology from a case to do key word searching

Look at cases cited in the case Shepardize or KeyCite the case

Searching by topic / keynumber for more cases. Searching for more cases on

Lexis.- more like this 2. How do you find still more cases that address the same issue as INGRAHAM v. WRIGHT? Use Lexis & Westlaw!!!

Use terminology from a case to do key word searching

Look at cases cited in the case

Shepardize or KeyCite the case Limiting by jurisdiction

DISCUSSION QUESTION Your boss has given you a brief hes written and asks you to find a few cases that say that there has to be consideration for a contract to be valid.

Where would you look? 3. Where would you look for citations to cases that say there has to be consideration to make a binding contract? To find cases that define terms:

Words & Phrases [Westlaw] If you cant find a case:

Restatement of Contracts [Lexis & Westlaw]

Law Dictionary (Black's) [Westlaw] Major treatise (e.g., Corbin on Contracts) [Lexis & Westlaw both

contain selected treatises] WP stands for Words & Phrases DISCUSSION QUESTION

Youre a research assistant, and you receive an e-mail from your professor: Im updating my consumer protection law casebook. I need to know which states allow individuals to sue for damages for deceptive

trade practices, in which this is a criminal offense, and where the state attorney general can bring a lawsuit. Please provide the cites and relevant texts.

4. Where do you look to find the statutes on deceptive trade practices in all 50 states?

If your first reaction to a research assignment is: OMG, I dont know where to begin! Your first step should

be to talk to a librarian Where do you look to find the statutes on deceptive trade practices in all 50 states? 4.


[National Survey of State Laws] Lexis: States Legal - U.S. > Combined States > Find Statutes & Legislative Materials >

LexisNexis 50 State Surveys, Legislation & Regulations >> [topic] Martindale-Hubbell Digest of

State Laws [Lexis: MARHUB;MHDIG] Other Secondary Source:

Subject Compilations of State Laws, law review articles, etc

check to see if theres an extra charge under your plan OTHER SOURCES Subject Compilations of State Laws law review articles encyclopedias / ALR

DISCUSSION QUESTION Since you started law school, your friends and family have been asking you for legal advice. This time its your grandparents, who have recently

retired and moved to Asheville. They just bought a new Prius thats turned out to be a real lemon. Where would you look to see if North Carolina law protects consumers whose new cars dont live up to their warranties?

(Youve checked with your boss, and been told that you may use any of the firms resources). 5. How do you determine if North Carolina law protects new car buyers?

Start with a secondary source! (e.g., a state legal encyclopedia)

U.S. STATE MATERIALS > > NORTH CAROLINA > > Forms, Treatises, CLEs and Other Practice Material ANNOTATED CODES

Annotated codes include research aids and summaries of cases decided

under the statutes Lexis Westlaw


Search the public law and bill databases by key word or using the cite as a search query.

Use Shepards or KeyCite.

Check pocket parts (or pamphlets) & advance sheets for print code. A little advice make friends with your court or firm librarian.

Attend the library orientation.

Ask about in-house databases, newsletters and practitioner materials on your topic.


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