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Welcome. Whether you are just starting out or just brushing up on your legal research skills, this guide offers:
- a general strategy for approaching any legal research question
- links to online resources for each step in the process
- tips applicable whether you are working on assignments in your Legal Research & Writing or Written & Oral Advocacy classes, matters for a clinical course or externship placement, or client research in a summer associate position
Before you dive in, remember that -
- Research is a cyclical, recursive process. The steps laid out in this guide are not a linear path; there are steps that you will repeat and refine as you find more information, broaden your understanding of the issues, and develop your answer.
- You do not need to master everything in the guide all at once. You will be learning and using the tools and resources throughout your 1L year LRW and WOA courses. This guide sets up a framework and context for how the tasks you perform fit in to an overall research strategy.
- Reference librarians can help you with your legal research. Look for the "Ask Us" boxes throughout this guide to reach us via chat/instant messaging, to set up an appointment, or to talk with us during Library hours.
the above diagram shows:
First panel: Get your bearings - Step 1. Frame issues and terms. Step 2. Identify jurisdiction and sources of mandatory authority. Step 3. Get an overview.
Second panel: Explore - Step 4. Consult secondary sources. Step 5. Gather and read your primary authority. Step 6. Select cases and fill gaps.
Third panel: Map and verify - Step 7. Stay organized. Step 8. Update the law. Step 9. Conclude your research.