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Certification workshop becoming a power user

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Certification workshop becoming a power user

  1. 1. Certification Workshop:Becoming a Power User Mark Popielarski – Spring 2013
  2. 2. IntroductionWhy develop advanced searching skills?Using Lexis and Westlaw effectively – time and costDeveloping research strategiesChoosing appropriate resourcesConstructing effective search queries
  3. 3. Why develop advance searchstrategies?―Google‖ search bars useful, but returns many results—many not relevantDeveloping search strategy, selecting appropriate resource, and using advanced search features saves time and maybe moneyIn Westlaw and Lexis Classic, charges are by search. The larger the database used, the more it costs.
  4. 4. Developing Search StrategiesIdentify 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
  5. 5. 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
  6. 6. Developing Search Strategies (cont.)Research issue(s) by using secondary sourcesGenerate 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
  7. 7. 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
  8. 8. 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
  9. 9. 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
  10. 10. 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
  11. 11. 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‖
  12. 12. 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
  13. 13. TipsExperiment with different legal research tools/strategies while they are still freeResearch is iterative—do not be afraid to try modified/new searchesNeed 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!

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