Legal Reseach
Tips & Tricks for the Paralegal

Joshua B. LaPorte
November 13, 2013
University of Connecticut | School of L...
University of Connecticut | School of Law
www.law.uconn.edu
Don't panic!

Clarify your question

Evaluate the tools you have

Conduct preliminary research

There is no one “right...
You want to find everything, and do so
efficiently: In a word, you need to be
thorough.

University of Connecticut | Schoo...
Begin with a written plan

University of Connecticut | School of Law
www.law.uconn.edu
5-W Method:
WHO is involved in the situation?
WHAT objects, acts, instruments, etc. does the
situation involve?
WHEN did t...
TAPP method:
THINGS: Ask yourself what the relevant objects are
(e.g. "gun" in a murder case, "car" in an automobile
accid...
TARP Method:
THINGS: Ask yourself what the relevant objects are
(e.g. "gun" in a murder case, "car" in an automobile
accid...
Rombauer Method

Perform preliminary analysis

Search for statutes, regulations

Find cases – Manadatory precedent

Fi...
Preliminary Analysis:
Key terms?
Jurisdiction?
Type of law likely to govern?

University of Connecticut | School of Law
ww...
Search Statutes and Regulations

University of Connecticut | School of Law
www.law.uconn.edu


Tools

University of Connecticut | School of Law
www.law.uconn.edu
Search methods:
Full-Text Searching

Field Searching

Index Searching

Terms & Connectors Searching


University of Co...
Full-Text:
For preliminary use to identify terms for
more focused searches.

As a final check to insure that you caught
e...
Field Searching
(e.g. search for
party name,
terms in the
case syllabus,
for justice who
delivered an
opinion)
University ...
Index Searching

University of Connecticut | School of Law
www.law.uconn.edu
Terms & Connectors
Searching

University of Connecticut | School of Law
www.law.uconn.edu
Most Sophisticated method

Search string comprised of “terms”
(words or phrases which express the
legal concept) and “con...
University of Connecticut | School of Law
www.law.uconn.edu
NOT W/n (rico NOT W/2 puerto)
NOT W/sent (market NOT W/SENT share)

University of Connecticut | School of Law
www.law.ucon...
Selecting your terms

It is essential to plan your search before
running it using terms & connectors

Write down your ke...
Grouping with Parentheses
(liquor or spirits or alcohol)
(Bill w/3 Clinton) OR (George w/3 Bush)

University of Connecticu...
Processing order:
OR is first;
Proximity operators (/p, /s, /n) next;
AND is processed third;
NOT is processed last.

Univ...
Word variations:
wom*n – women, woman
Child! - children, childrens

University of Connecticut | School of Law
www.law.ucon...
Too many results?

If available, use filtering features to look
for specific terms within your result set.

Consider sep...
Too few results?

Make sure terms are spelled correctly

Make sure you've formatted your search
to capture alternative w...
Secondary Sources
Encyclopedias
ALR
Nutshells
Restatements
Form Books
Practice Manuals
Model Pleadings
Jury Verdicts

Univ...
Legal Encyclopedia

University of Connecticut | School of Law
www.law.uconn.edu
University of Connecticut | School of Law
www.law.uconn.edu
University of Connecticut | School of Law
www.law.uconn.edu
Causes of Action

University of Connecticut | School of Law
www.law.uconn.edu
Am Jur Trials

University of Connecticut | School of Law
www.law.uconn.edu
University of Connecticut | School of Law
www.law.uconn.edu
Looseleafs
The most developed sources of the law

Particularly useful for highly regulated
areas of law
(Banking, tax, em...
Legal Research Guides
Georgetown
Washington
Connecticut Judicial Branch
University of Connecticut | School of Law
www.law....
University of Connecticut | School of Law
www.law.uconn.edu
University of Connecticut | School of Law
www.law.uconn.edu
University of Connecticut | School of Law
www.law.uconn.edu


Final Thoughts:

Discuss with others

Ask for help
Use secondary sources!

Always update

University of Connecticut ...
You've got questions?
I've (hopefully) got answers!

University of Connecticut | School of Law
www.law.uconn.edu
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in …5
×

CBA Paralegals Section presentation; "Legal Research - Tips & Tricks for the Paralegal"

591 views
485 views

Published on

Presentation slides covering legal research; creating a research strategy, building a search using online research databases, and an overview of various secondary sources of law useful to paralegals.

Published in: Education

CBA Paralegals Section presentation; "Legal Research - Tips & Tricks for the Paralegal"

  1. 1. Legal Reseach Tips & Tricks for the Paralegal Joshua B. LaPorte November 13, 2013 University of Connecticut | School of Law www.law.uconn.edu
  2. 2. University of Connecticut | School of Law www.law.uconn.edu
  3. 3. Don't panic!  Clarify your question  Evaluate the tools you have  Conduct preliminary research  There is no one “right” way  University of Connecticut | School of Law www.law.uconn.edu
  4. 4. You want to find everything, and do so efficiently: In a word, you need to be thorough. University of Connecticut | School of Law www.law.uconn.edu
  5. 5. Begin with a written plan University of Connecticut | School of Law www.law.uconn.edu
  6. 6. 5-W Method: WHO is involved in the situation? WHAT objects, acts, instruments, etc. does the situation involve? WHEN did the important acts or incidents take place? WHERE did the facts of your case take place? WHY did the individuals or groups in your case act the way they did? Why did certain things happen? University of Connecticut | School of Law www.law.uconn.edu
  7. 7. TAPP method: THINGS: Ask yourself what the relevant objects are (e.g. "gun" in a murder case, "car" in an automobile accident case). ACTIONS: What did people do or NOT do in your particular situation? PEOPLE: Who were the individuals or groups involved in the situation before you? PLACES: Where did the relevant acts take place? University of Connecticut | School of Law www.law.uconn.edu
  8. 8. TARP Method: THINGS: Ask yourself what the relevant objects are (e.g. "gun" in a murder case, "car" in an automobile accident case). ACTIONS:What did people do or NOT do in your particular situation? RELIEF SOUGHT: What kind of relief/compensation/"justice" are the parties entitled to? PARTIES: Who is the defendant? Who is the plaintiff? Whose interests are aligned? Whose interests are opposed? University of Connecticut | School of Law www.law.uconn.edu
  9. 9. Rombauer Method  Perform preliminary analysis  Search for statutes, regulations  Find cases – Manadatory precedent  Find persuasive precedent  Refine, double-check, and update University of Connecticut | School of Law www.law.uconn.edu
  10. 10. Preliminary Analysis: Key terms? Jurisdiction? Type of law likely to govern? University of Connecticut | School of Law www.law.uconn.edu
  11. 11. Search Statutes and Regulations University of Connecticut | School of Law www.law.uconn.edu
  12. 12.  Tools University of Connecticut | School of Law www.law.uconn.edu
  13. 13. Search methods: Full-Text Searching  Field Searching  Index Searching  Terms & Connectors Searching  University of Connecticut | School of Law www.law.uconn.edu
  14. 14. Full-Text: For preliminary use to identify terms for more focused searches.  As a final check to insure that you caught everything using other search methods.  For areas of the law or for legal sources which are poorly indexed.  University of Connecticut | School of Law www.law.uconn.edu
  15. 15. Field Searching (e.g. search for party name, terms in the case syllabus, for justice who delivered an opinion) University of Connecticut | School of Law www.law.uconn.edu
  16. 16. Index Searching University of Connecticut | School of Law www.law.uconn.edu
  17. 17. Terms & Connectors Searching University of Connecticut | School of Law www.law.uconn.edu
  18. 18. Most Sophisticated method  Search string comprised of “terms” (words or phrases which express the legal concept) and “connectors” (instructions which tell the database how to interpret the terms)  Allows for precise searching  University of Connecticut | School of Law www.law.uconn.edu
  19. 19. University of Connecticut | School of Law www.law.uconn.edu
  20. 20. NOT W/n (rico NOT W/2 puerto) NOT W/sent (market NOT W/SENT share) University of Connecticut | School of Law www.law.uconn.edu
  21. 21. Selecting your terms  It is essential to plan your search before running it using terms & connectors  Write down your key terms; think about synonyms, antonyms, and related concepts that might appear when discussing the issue. University of Connecticut | School of Law www.law.uconn.edu
  22. 22. Grouping with Parentheses (liquor or spirits or alcohol) (Bill w/3 Clinton) OR (George w/3 Bush) University of Connecticut | School of Law www.law.uconn.edu
  23. 23. Processing order: OR is first; Proximity operators (/p, /s, /n) next; AND is processed third; NOT is processed last. University of Connecticut | School of Law www.law.uconn.edu
  24. 24. Word variations: wom*n – women, woman Child! - children, childrens University of Connecticut | School of Law www.law.uconn.edu
  25. 25. Too many results?  If available, use filtering features to look for specific terms within your result set.  Consider separating issues.  Rethink your connectors. AND as well as proximity connectors gives more control. University of Connecticut | School of Law www.law.uconn.edu
  26. 26. Too few results?  Make sure terms are spelled correctly  Make sure you've formatted your search to capture alternative words or forms of words  Add additional terms after an OR connector to broaden the search University of Connecticut | School of Law www.law.uconn.edu
  27. 27. Secondary Sources Encyclopedias ALR Nutshells Restatements Form Books Practice Manuals Model Pleadings Jury Verdicts University of Connecticut | School of Law www.law.uconn.edu
  28. 28. Legal Encyclopedia University of Connecticut | School of Law www.law.uconn.edu
  29. 29. University of Connecticut | School of Law www.law.uconn.edu
  30. 30. University of Connecticut | School of Law www.law.uconn.edu
  31. 31. Causes of Action University of Connecticut | School of Law www.law.uconn.edu
  32. 32. Am Jur Trials University of Connecticut | School of Law www.law.uconn.edu
  33. 33. University of Connecticut | School of Law www.law.uconn.edu
  34. 34. Looseleafs The most developed sources of the law  Particularly useful for highly regulated areas of law (Banking, tax, employment law)  Combine statutory, regulatory, case law with comprehensive indexing tools.  Often include forms/checklists.  University of Connecticut | School of Law www.law.uconn.edu
  35. 35. Legal Research Guides Georgetown Washington Connecticut Judicial Branch University of Connecticut | School of Law www.law.uconn.edu
  36. 36. University of Connecticut | School of Law www.law.uconn.edu
  37. 37. University of Connecticut | School of Law www.law.uconn.edu
  38. 38. University of Connecticut | School of Law www.law.uconn.edu
  39. 39.  Final Thoughts:  Discuss with others  Ask for help Use secondary sources!  Always update University of Connecticut | School of Law www.law.uconn.edu
  40. 40. You've got questions? I've (hopefully) got answers! University of Connecticut | School of Law www.law.uconn.edu

×