Having the right tools and knowing how to use them can make all the difference in your success as an aspiring lawyer or law student.
That is why we here at Assignments4u have put together this guide for you!
In these pages, you’ll find valuable information on where to start and what steps to follow when performing legal research.
Read on if you want more than just a cursory understanding of this crucial skill!
What is Law Research?
Law research is the process of finding and analyzing legal materials to answer a question or support an argument.
Law students, paralegals, lawyers, judges, virtually anyone who has to make decisions about what laws apply to their situation must perform law research effectively for every challenge they encounter.
Law research can be divided into two main categories: primary and secondary sources.
Primary sources are the original documents, like court cases or statutes. Secondary sources include books, articles, journals, encyclopedias, anything that provides an interpretation of the law not found in a case or statute.
Key Questions to Ask When Starting A Law Research?
Do I have the facts pertinent to the case?
A great tip is to find and document the necessary details for your legal issue.
How to start?
- First, write down all of the facts related to your case.
- Next, create a list of questions that need to be answered and then complete those first before moving on.
In this way, you’ll be able to identify any gaps in your knowledge about the legal issue.
What are the possible outcomes?
You should also consider what might happen depending on your research and know that there is no guarantee of any one outcome, so you have to be realistic.
Understanding all the information will help you make an informed decision and prepare for anything that could come up in terms of a rebuttal.
What is the critical legal issue?
Determine the main question you need to answer or information that will be most important in your case.
Getting a solid understanding of this point first will help you narrow down where to find answers. From there, start researching from other sources like statutes, court cases, and secondary sources.
A successful legal research project always begins with identifying the problem and desired outcome. It will help you stay on the path while researching your topic.
What is my relevant jurisdiction?
The first step toward any legal research project is to focus on the proper jurisdiction.
So, before you tackle your complex case, establish whether it is a federal or state law because if it’s a state law which one?
For example, if you need criminal assignment help for a high-profile case with New York law? If so, then all of the relevant cases will be in the court archives found on Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute.
How To Research Case Law?
In the past, law students were taught how to do case law research in a library.
But now, pretty much everything from the library, and more, can be accessed online.
And while you can use your local library if you wish, it may take longer than simply doing your research using any online device.
When looking for online research options, you may want to start with places like Google or Bing.
However, if you are looking for comprehensive law assignment help, we would recommend using an online service specifically designed for law—like Westlaw, FSU law research center, etc.
Because of the tools included in the site (AI), Westlaw can make quick work of your search.
How to Search For Relevant Case Law For Law Research?
Law students need to understand how to search and find relevant case law.
Some people may think that the best way to do so is by using Google or other popular search engines.
But according to experts on legal research, this method will not yield as many results as you are looking for because there are other resources in the legal system that are not indexed.
One article, by John Cooper at FindLaw’s Lawyerist blog, advises students to start and search for case law on a high-ranking index site such as Westlaw or LexisNexis.
These sites will have more cases listed than Google would, which is because they are more comprehensive.
You can also search for cases using keywords or browse around the site to find what you need, such as Tort Assignment Help.
Furthermore, Cooper advises law students against relying on free sites such as Google Scholar and Justia because these sources often list articles that have been published in journals instead of court decisions.
It means a student could spend hours fruitlessly reading articles instead of case law, so it is best to start by searching for the court decision.
Cooper also advises students to not rely solely on one source when researching because they can contain errors or omissions.
Therefore, it’s essential to use multiple sources and compare them against each other to make sure the information is accurate.
How To Search For Primary Sources For Law Research?
The American Law Institute, a non-governmental body that writes definitive statements of law in the United States and provides commentary on legal topics and drafting model statutes and codes for use by state legislatures, is an excellent primary source to research case law.
Moreover, it has compiled a list of primary sources, including decisions from the Supreme Court and other federal court appeals and the highest court in each state.
Additionally, Law reviews are good sources for primary materials.
It is because they include non-binding but persuasive and free legal research case law commentary from scholars and attorneys who have researched a specific topic and offer their insights on how to apply that research to future cases or statutes.
To summarize, some of the essential primary sources of research law include,
- Case law, which are court opinions issued by federal or state courts.
- Federal laws and legislation passed by state lawmakers.
- Regulations issued by federal or state agencies
- Constitutions upheld with federal and state
How To Search For Secondary Sources For Law Research?
Articles published by-law reviews, other scholarly journals, and organizations provide an overview of a particular area of law.
The Pew Research Sharia Law report would be a famous example of secondary sources for research case law.
Pew is a non-profit law firm research organization that researches issues and attitudes shaping America and the world through polling, social science research, and media analysis.
Secondary Sources are often written by leading experts on the topic who have researched extensively but do not offer their opinion about applying that research to future cases or statutes.
Top Law Research Topics For Students.
Criminal Law Research Topics
- Analyzing the effectiveness of criminal justice lie detectors: How often do they work?
- Evaluating the extent of how US laws are being abused on manslaughter cases, and the best course to protect the victims?
- Steps for evaluating aspects of a crime that should not be brought up in court.
- What are the best ways for criminal defense witnesses to keep their safety?
- An In-Depth evaluation of the history of the death penalty.
Business Law Topics For Research Papers
- Legal Exclusion from the Competition Act: Is It Possible for Good?
- What actions to take if someone in the workplace incurs an accident?
- Age discrimination is pervasive in the employment market.
- Preventing sexual harassment lawsuits
- Fraud: Methods of Identification in Bankruptcy.
Law Enforcement Research Topics
- Have body cameras on police reduced violence?
- Is the media accurately representing police violence against people of color?
- Impacts of solitary confinement have on people living in correctional facilities.
- When should the United States intervene abroad?
- Should Drug Courts Change as We Face the Opioid Crisis?
Employment Law research Topics
- The integration of religion and work law in the United States.
- What are the consequences of Brexit?
- Analyzing the influence of trade unions: what have they accomplished, and which are their difficulties?
- A comparison of the implementation of employment law between the United States and the United Kingdom.
- A Critical Analysis of US Manufacturing Industry Work Contracts and Employment Contracts.
Law research can be difficult for both beginners and more experienced professionals alike.
If you are beginning, don’t get discouraged if you think this guide is too advanced for you. Every professional felt the same way the first time they tried it.
With enough practice, patience, and dedication, everyone masters the art of legal research eventually.
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