Certification Workshop:Becoming a Power User Mark Popielarski – Spring 2013
IntroductionWhy develop advanced searching skills?Using Lexis and Westlaw effectively – time and costDeveloping research strategiesChoosing appropriate resourcesConstructing effective search queries
Why develop advance searchstrategies?―Google‖ search bars useful, but returns many results—many not relevantDeveloping search strategy, selecting appropriate resource, and using advanced search features saves time and maybe moneyIn Westlaw and Lexis Classic, charges are by search. The larger the database used, the more it costs.
Developing Search StrategiesIdentify the legal issue/issues involved Experience will expedite identification If given, use controlling case, statute, regulation, etc. as a starting point If not, use secondary source to research topic
Developing Search Strategies (cont.) Determine relevant subject(s) and jurisdiction(s) Subjects Constitutional Law? Corporate Law? Environmental Law? Remember that legal problem might involve multiple subjects Jurisdiction Always start research with controlling law If in Colorado and it is controlling law, focus on CO If in 10th Circuit, look at S. Ct. and 10th Circuit cases
Developing Search Strategies (cont.)Research issue(s) by using secondary sourcesGenerate search terms Secondary Sources Legal Thesaurus Relevant cases, statutes, etc.Remember legal research is an iterative process, use new terms to expand upon original search
Secondary Sources What are secondary sources? Examples: scholarly treatises and law reviews Why are secondary sources useful? Provides background information and context Helps identify additional terms to build your search Locate cases, statutes, etc. supporting a particular legal proposition Cases already vetted by experts in the field which provides greater certainty of relevance. Not purely relying on computer algorithm and ability to craft perfect search
Secondary Sources (cont.) While secondary sources online are useful, coverage, cost, and firm culture may require print usage Lexis and Westlaw not comprehensive Not all treatises, including important treatises, are available on these platforms Older law review articles not available HeinOnline contains PDFs of most law review articles—need citation
Secondary Sources (cont.) Preeminent Treatises While numerous treatises exist covering a wide variety of subjects, some are more highly regarded than others Preeminent treatises are written by highly respected authors and are viewed as the definitive source for their subject area Examples: Corbin on Contracts Collier on Bankruptcy Federal Practice and Procedure Treatise on Constitutional Law: Substance and Procedure
Legal Database Searching How to increase likelihood of relevant results? Avoid general searching—narrow search to relevant topic/jurisdiction when possible i.e. Corporate law applying Delaware state law Natural Language v. Terms & Connectors Natural language useful as starting place when unsure of search terms Terms & Connectors allows greater precision—more relevant results
Legal Database Searching (cont.) Use ―AND‖ ―OR‖ judiciously Minimal logical relationship—with ―AND‖ first term could be on first page and send term on last page ―/p‖ ―/s‖ ―/n‖ helps establish physical and, hopefully, logical relationship between terms Use root expander to include variations ―!‖ ―acqui!‖ will search for acquires, acquired, acquiring, acquisition Quotation marks for phrases although use of ―/n‖ allows for variation free! /2 speech instead for ―freedom of speech‖ and ―free speech‖
Legal Database Searching (cont.) Try requiring that document contains a minimum number of occurrences for a specific word/phrase—theory is more occurrences increases likelihood of relevance (not too high or too low) ―atleast‖ in search bar or ―term frequency‖ on advanced search screen i.e. atleast10(CERCLA) Segment searching—different materials provide different options Law Review articles offer Title and Author field If search terms appear in title, more likely relevant Cases allow for Judge and Attorney searching—very useful when job interviewing Dates—if specific date or date range known, restrict to avoid irrelevant results
TipsExperiment with different legal research tools/strategies while they are still freeResearch is iterative—do not be afraid to try modified/new searchesNeed help? Talk to a law librarian DU law librarians available to help Employer may have law librarians on staff—talk to them and ask questions!