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Basic Legal Research Guide: Research Strategy

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Research Strategy for 1L Research Memo

  • Research Memo Strategies Presentation - Fall 2023

This short Powerpoint presentation outlines some of the techniques and strategies that might be helpful for your Research Memo.

  • The Process of Legal Research

It may be helpful to see a visual display of the research process. Attached is a general flowchart for the legal research process. This file was originally created by Sarah Glassmeyer at CALI (The Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction) . 

Sloan - Basic Legal Research: Tools and Strategies, 6th ed.

legal research assignment

On pages 304-307 of Amy Sloan's  Basic Legal Research textbook, you will find sample legal research flowcharts that show the thought process for handling certain types of research questions.

Approaching Your First Research Assignment: Introduction

The purpose of this page is to outline a basic strategy for approaching your first open-research assignment. It is most likely that this assignment will be your trial brief in the second semester of Legal Writing. The steps outlined here are intended to assist you in that endeavor. If, by chance, you are reading this page and looking for information on how to approach your first research assignment for work as a clerk or an extern, you will find the approach outlined here to be fundamentally the same because the process of legal research, regardless of the setting, will bear similar characteristics. If you are looking for more in-depth information on applying this process to assignments in the workplace, see the Summer Associate Research Guide .

In many respects, following a “legal research plan” is much like briefing cases; there are certain steps that ought to be followed and certain landmarks to look for along the way. Once you become familiar with briefing cases, you no longer need to work through the process every time you read a case, as that process occurs in the background. So it is with legal research. Working through the steps outlined below might seem tedious at first, but they will become commonplace. In the future, even though you may not work through the steps individually, you can be more confident that your research is complete, thorough, and accurate. Since you've worked through the process a number of times, you’re following the steps whether you recognize them or not. Here are the steps :

  • Step 1: Preliminary Analysis
  • Step 2: Formulate a Research Strategy
  • Step 3: Record Your Actions, Sources, and Results
  • Step 4: When Do I Stop Researching?
  • Step 5: Update Your Research
  • Step 6: Begin Writing Your Brief 
  • Step 7: Keep Calm and Carry On

Step One: Preliminary Analysis

Before you can begin researching, it is important to spend some time analyzing the materials that you’ve been given, looking for clues to assist you in researching the question that you have been asked to answer. You need to have a plan . Very often research goes wrong because the researcher attempts to begin researching without being able to answer some very fundamental questions about the topic. Librarians call this the “shot in the dark” approach. It cannot be emphasized enough (especially with your first research projects) that you take the time to answer the following questions and extract as much information as possible, before you begin researching . Part of the reason for this is that the answers to some of these questions will guide your research process in terms of locating and studying sources.

Before you attempt to answer a legal question, you must understand it. In order to understand the question, you have to review the preliminary materials that you have been given as a starting point. It is crucially important that you read everything that you’ve been given carefully, and ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is the legal issue? Sometimes the legal question at hand may be ascertained easily from preliminary materials. For example, you may be given documents that comprise an initial case file and be asked (based on the facts) whether a potential client has a cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED) against a co-worker. Other times, it will be less obvious. Part of your research process may involve "learning” enough about an unfamiliar subject area to determine exactly what the proper legal question is. Legal research can sometimes be frustrating because it is a recursive process. In other words, sometimes you need to conduct a significant amount of research just to determine what the question is that you are trying to answer. Only then can you do additional research--often using the same sources--to determine what the answer to the question is.
  • Who are the parties involved ? When asking yourself these questions, think in terms of potential legal relationships and not necessarily labels. For example, when considering whether an employee has a potential cause of action against a co-worker, it may be important that the co-worker is the employee's supervisor. The supervisor–employee relationship might indicate that one person or party can exercise authority or control authority over another person or party.
  • What is the thing in controversy ? Is there a contract involved? Is a piece of property at issue? The answer to this question may be helpful because it often leads the researcher to specific legal subject areas. Knowing that a question is a matter of tort law or contract law reduces the universe of possible resources to consult and may lead directly to certain sources like a treatise on torts as a starting point.
  • What type of relief is being sought? In other words, what are the possible bases of action or defenses? Is a party seeking monetary damages for an injunction? Again, knowing the answer to this question (if ascertainable at this point) may lead the researcher to a specific legal topic, such as what standard needs to be met in order to be granted an injunction given a particular set of facts
  • What jurisdiction governs the legal question at hand ? Again, at this point, it may be difficult to answer this question. Some legal topics are governed primarily by federal law (e.g., environmental, immigration, copyright) and some by state law (e.g., contracts, torts, criminal law). When you’re done with law school, you will be in a much better position to answer this question initially. If you did know the answer with some certainty, again this would restrict your universe of possible sources. If you knew, for example, that the question was governed by Illinois law, you could eliminate the federal law and forty-nine other states as potential research sources, or at least as primary authority. Doing so will allow you to focus your research much more narrowly and save a great amount of valuable research time.
  • When did the events take place ? The answer to this question helps to determine whether you are researching current law or historical.
  • Are there any starting points embedded in the preliminary materials ? For example, you may be pointed to a particular statute as a starting point. Or, you may have been given the name of the seminal case. If, for example, you knew that the answer involved a particular federal statute, you might begin by reading that statute and looking at annotations in an annotated federal code like U.S.C.A . or U.S.C.S .
  • Is there any language that you don’t understand? If you need to look up terminology in a legal dictionary, by all means do so, and do so before you continue on. There’s no prize for assuming you know what a term means or how it is being used. If you make an assumption, and it turns out that you're wrong, you will need to start your research over again. That is a tremendously inefficient way to proceed.

Step Two: Formulate a Research Strategy

At the conclusion of the Preliminary Analysis stage of the research plan, a researcher ought to have a basic understanding of the legal question and a list of search terms based on the questions above. The researcher might also know the jurisdiction to be searched, as well as whether it is current or historical information that is sought. A researcher's level of confidence will next guide the research strategy by indicating what resources should be searched, and in what order.  So, the first question is this:

Can you state your legal issue in a sentence?

  • If you are not confident that you can state your answer in a sentence, don't be dismayed. This is perfectly natural. But, before you start looking for answers when you don’t understand the question, it’s time to take a step back. You can’t find a needle in a haystack if you can’t identify the haystack you need. This is where most beginning researchers go wrong. Don’t go jumping into a rolling sea of contradictory opinions without the proper context for understanding the information that your research has gleaned. You'll just waste precious time.
  • If you can’t state your legal issue in a sentence at this point--in other words, if you are not confident that you have or understand all the terms of art, what the governing jurisdiction is, or what the governing law is--it's best to begin by trying to ascertain a very broad overview of your subject area. This is the Google Maps equivalent of changing your focus so you see a broader area in less detail. One way to "learn" about unfamiliar legal topics (like IIED, employment discrimination, or injunctions) is to begin with basic secondary sources like national or state encyclopedias or hornbooks. Students are often loath to take this intermediary step because it’s not the fastest way to get research done. One important point to keep in mind here is that often preliminary research involves looking for starting points rather than necessarily looking for answers. A basic secondary source will identify the answers to some of the questions asked above: Is IIED a question of state or federal law? Is it primarily governed by statutes? Case law? Or both? Are there particular statutes or cases in the area that you must be aware of in order to answer the question asked? Are there important terms of art that you need to know to execute an effective online search?.
  • After you review one or more basic secondary sources, you should at some point feel confident that you can state your legal issue in a sentence. When that happens, keep reading below.
  • if you have done a thorough job with your preliminary analysis, you may at this point be able to state your legal issue in a sentence. This is an extremely important point, because if you can state your issue in a sentence, it may be possible for you to begin searching for answers or pieces of an answer using a natural language or terms and connectors search. That technique, however, is not recommended if you are exploring an unfamiliar area of law.
  • Before you begin researching, take stock of what resources you have at your disposal. Don’t just go looking for cases. If you know that your question involves a state or federal statute, or section of code, retrieve that statute or section from an annotated code . Then, read it, and look at the annotations, especially references to secondary sources like law review articles or treatises that discuss and dissect the entire statute or section.
  • Likewise, now would be a good time to look for more advanced secondary sources covering your topic like treatises or law review articles. If you are not familiar with the treatises in the particular subject area, don’t be afraid to ask your friendly reference librarian for input. Doing so may save a lot of time in the long run. Another trick is to look at the practice pages on Lexis ,  Westlaw , and Bloomberg  to see what major works or treatises are available through these resources.
  • Finally, remember that legal research is a recursive process. As you read more and learn more, you may have to adjust your question. Again, this is perfectly natural. However, it leads to the next important point about executing a research plan.

Step Three: Record your Actions, Sources, and Results

Executing a well-thought-out legal research plan is a lot like briefing cases. It’s drudgery at first, but it becomes a natural process after you’ve done it a few times. Those who don’t do it become stuck using the same poor technique or series of sources with no understanding of whether that technique will work or not. When all you have is a hammer, every problem becomes a nail. The best lawyers still brief cases. Very good lawyers brief cases mentally--whether they know it or not. Good researchers record their actions in some manner, shape, or form. Once you become familiar with a particular area of law and its related research resources, your research process will become intuitive. Your search history and Lexis , Westlaw , and Bloomberg can aid greatly with this part, but not every source is available through those three commercial services. So, it’s important to have a log separate from the database research histories, even though there will be some overlap.

For now, here are six good reasons why you ought keep a "research log" for your first few assignments, followed by an example of what one might look like:

  • It’s helpful to have a a written, recorded research log to keep track of sources consulted because, if your question changes slightly as you learn more about your legal topic, you will have a record of what has and hasn't been searched, what terms or techniques were used, and what the results were so you do not re-create the wheel and waste your own time.
  • Keeping a research log will give you some assurance that you haven’t missed anything. You can compare your list of potential sources like treatises, law reviews, annotated codes, case databases etc. against what you’ve actually researched. This will give you confidence that there isn’t more information lurking out there somewhere that you ought to have found.
  • If you need to consult with a partner, professor, or a librarian about your research, it would be most helpful to have a written record of what your searches have been and where you have looked. From looking at the record, an expert will be able to determine whether there are sources that you should have searched, or whether your search terms need modifying, 
  • In the real world, whether you are clerking, have an externship, or you are a summer or young associate, if the answer turns out to be "I cannot find an answer," you will need to prove that result is justified. The best way to do that is by presenting the assigning attorney with your research log based on your research strategy and searching.
  • If you have to set aside your research project for any length of time, a research log will help you by identifying where you have been and what you have learned. Again, don’t re-create the wheel. If every time you sit in front of a computer you start fresh, you’re going to waste a lot of precious time, and you will have no confidence that you found everything that there is to find because you have no list or record.
  • Finally, as you are researching, you will probably identify sources that seem interesting, or possibly helpful, but that may be outside the scope or focus of your current research. Write those down, and keep them somewhere--perhaps in a separate folder labelled "maybe." Never look serendipity in the mouth. Often times skillful researchers end up finding very good resources or bits of information in places they never thought they’d be. Don’t lose the opportunity to take advantage of this information simply because you failed to record its existence when you had the opportunity.

What a sample research log might look like:

Derived from Robert M. Linz, Research Analysis and Planning: The Undervalued Skill in Legal Research Instruction , Legal Reference Services Quarterly, 34:1, 60–99 (2015).

You can also use PowerNotes (available from the Law Library's A-Z Databases Page ) to create a research log. This short video demonstrates how to export your research from PowerNotes into an Excel spreadsheet.

Step Four: When do I Stop Researching?

How do I know when to stop? In the real world, the answer to this question often depends on budgets and time restrictions (for more on this, see the Summer Associate Research Guide ). For purposes of your first research assignment, however, the simple answer is that you stop when you keep seeing the same information, and new information that you come across is not any more helpful than what you already have. Generally speaking, you will keep coming across the same statute or section of code, the same cases interpreting that statute or section, and the same law review articles or treatise sections that discuss the primary law. Once you have this set of information—information that has been recorded in your research log—you can begin attempting to answer the question asked.  As you begin writing, however, you may uncover loose ends that need to be further investigated. So, in a sense, your research is never really done.

Step Five: Update Your Research

No matter what your research turns up, it’s important to update all of your sources using the citators available online: Lexis (Shepard’s), Westlaw (KeyCite) and Bloomberg (BCite).

  • You must always make sure that authorities that you are citing are current and reliable; i.e., have not been overruled, superseded, or subsequently distinguished out of existence.
  • Beyond that, if you are working on a brief as part of litigation, you can be assured that the opposing party will read your brief, read all your sources, and find any way to discredit or weaken the authority that you are relying on. If you cannot account for these, you run the risk of having your position undermined.
  • Finally, remember that a good researcher uses a citator, both to ensure the validity of authority, and to locate additional related authority.

Step Six: Begin Writing Your Memo or Brief

This step is misplaced because, for a number of reasons, you should begin writing well in advance of finishing your research. First, no matter how much research you have done, if you wait until the last minute to start writing, your written product will suffer. Second, the process of writing helps with your analysis. In other words, your brain won't let you write something that doesn’t make any sense. If you’re about to write something that doesn’t make any sense, it’s time to look back at the information that you’ve gleaned. If you wait too long to allow this natural process to occur, you lose the opportunity to fully explore the inconsistencies that your writing uncovers. Also, writing may uncover holes in your research that need to be filled. You need to allow for that possibility as well.

Step Seven: Keep Calm and Carry On

The surest way to be confident that your research is current and complete is to try several different approaches to the same problem. For example, to locate cases, you might employ a terms and connectors search, follow headnotes that are common among identified cases, and use a citator to locate additional authorities. If you were still considering more complex legal or policy issues, you might consult law review articles or a treatise. Each of these sources serves a slightly different purpose and will yield slightly different results. It's the sum of all these parts—and the realization that no matter where you look, you keep coming across the same information—that allow you to conclude that you have found all relevant materials, and you know exactly what to do with them.

Subject Guide

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Helpful Free Online Legal Research Resources

Includes federal and state government Web sites, university Web sites, and organizational Web sites.

  • Loyola University Chicago Law Library
  • Loyola University Chicago Law Library - Research Guides Subject guides to print and online resources available to Law Library users.
  • Loyola University Libraries Access to the Main Campus Library's database list, electronic journals search box, subject guides, and more.
  • Loyola's Online Catalog Includes holdings of both print and online resources.
  • Illinois General Assembly Illinois legislation, legislative history, and administrative law.
  • The newly redesigned legislative information Web site of the Library of Congress provides access to Congressional bills, Public Laws, and legislative history documents.
  • The U.S. Government's official Web portal includes an A-Z listing of administrative agencies.
  • GovInfo This Web site from the U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) includes links to official government publications such as the CFR, Federal Register, and the U.S. Code.
  • United States Courts Provides links to the Web sites of all federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • Circuit Court of Cook County General information, court calendars, and circuit court rules.
  • Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court Includes downloadable PDF court forms.
  • Fastcase Legal Research via State and Local Bar Associations A listing of state and local bar associations that provide free access to Fastcase as a benefit of association membership.
  • Illinois Secretary of State Portal to Secretary of State services and forms (including corporate forms) and the Illinois Register (chronological Illinois administrative law publication).
  • Cornell University's Legal Information Institute Links to federal and state legal information, including the U.S. Code, as well as Wex, the collaboratively-created online legal encyclopedia/dictionary.
  • FindLaw Links to various state and federal legal information resources and legal forms.
  • Law Library Resource Exchange Articles on legal technology topics.
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Principles of Research in Education is written principally but not exclusively for Education students and lecturers. Both novices and specialists in education research, economics, sociology, psychology, management business and social research in general will find it very useful. The booklet is presented in a way that it will generate interest and motivate the learning of appropriate principles of research methods, particularly as it applies to education. The booklet is simply an attempt by the authors to help researchers and lecturers see the end of research from the beginning. It has been written with particular consideration for those who may undertake research in the context of limited library resources or interaction with other researchers, as is commonly the case in Africa. It is designed to be used as an introductory text and as a focused guide for students who are beginning to develop and conceptualize their topics, proposal and final research reports, while supervisor of research will also find some hints useful in the booklet about how best to assess their students’ research work. It is the hope of the authors that the handbook will form a necessary and useful tool for students (and other researchers) working on their research projects for the first time and those that needed to update their knowledge about research methods. It would not be out of place for the authors to express their sincere thanks to all those who have been instrumental, openly or covertly, in the realization of this handbook. There are friends and colleagues, without whose varied nature of support, this guide would not have been written. We are particularly indebted to Mrs. Titilayo Soji –Oni, Dr. TPL A. A. Udida, Dr. Blessing Adeoye, Prof. Joel Babalola, and all our past and present students at the Faculty of Education University of Lagos and University of Calabar, for their useful guidance and support. And there are many more others to whom we are heavily indebted for their encouragement and useful advice.

Principles of Research in Education

Caligees Mohamed

Educational research

Xerxes Daji

Doing research in the real world-David Gray

Lorena Balla

Accounting Research Methods SSRN-id1921192

Tendai Gumbie


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  • Legal Research Worksheet from Georgia State Law Library

Legal Research Worksheet  

Client & Case Number: Date Received: Assigned By: Date Due: Time & Cost Restraints: End Product:                  ( ) Opinion Letter         ( ) Memo           ( ) Brief               ( ) Other

Background Facts: What are the legally significant facts?  

Issue Statement:  The issue statement should be a concise statement of the legal issue . What are the legal concepts, rules of law, and the significant facts?

Jurisdiction (State, Federal, etc.):

Key Terms: Terms that are most related to your issue. Exclude terms that are so common that they would return results not related to the issue.  Consider synonyms and antonyms for your terms.  Also consider broader or narrower related terms.  

Source Selection: At this point, you should decide what sources to consult.  Secondary sources are a great place to start if you are unfamiliar with a particular are of law or if you do not have any citations to primary sources.  Alternatively, primary sources may be a good place to start if you already have a citation. Shepardizing, KeyCiting, or BCiting a case, as well as consulting an annotated code can provide you with additional sources. 

Secondary Sources: Treatises, Legal Encyclopedias, ALR, Restatements, and Law Reviews & Journals

Search Terms:

Terms : ______________ and, or, w/p, w/s, w/___ ______________ and, or, w/p, w/s, w/___ ______________

             ______________ and, or, w/p, w/s, w/___ ______________ and, or, w/p, w/s, w/___ ______________              ______________ and, or, w/p, w/s, w/___ ______________ and, or, w/p, w/s, w/___ ______________            

Relevant Cases, Statutes, Regulations, and Topics & Key Numbers:

Prepared by Austin Martin Williams, Updated 10/18/2018 Consulted guides from NYLS Mendik Library and USF Dorraine Zief Law Library to create this guide.

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  • Last Updated: Aug 9, 2023 9:51 AM
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Checklist – Getting the Assignment

Checklist – Getting the Assignment

IN THIS ARTICLE Think ahead, come prepared

Take a lot of notes

Do you understand what is being asked of you, ask questions, understand the context.

What are the key facts of this case?

What is the Jurisdiction?

Confirm the final work product

How will the research be used, how much time, how does the assignor like to be contacted.

[This document is part of a series focused on core litigation skills. Bloomberg Law subscribers can access the full Core Litigation Skills Toolkit with practical guidance on key aspects of litigation practice. Not a subscriber? Request a demo .]

Receiving an assignment can be challenging, especially if you aren’t familiar with the client’s case and/or the area of the law. Consider the following before going into a meeting to get a research assignment .

Think ahead, come prepared

Think ahead about questions to ask to make sure you fully understand the assignment. If it is not provided, always ask about background case information, logistical issues such as the deadline, the client/matter number, and billing instructions.

Be ready to take a lot of notes when receiving the assignment and don’t assume you will remember it all later when you start the assignment. Make sure you know whom to contact if you have questions or need your memory refreshed.

Your legal intelligence connection

Get focused, accurate, and urgent coverage on how to respond appropriately and effectively to legal news and developments .

Confirm your understanding of the question being asked. When the assigning attorney is finished with their initial explanation of the assignment, repeat back to them what they want you to research.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

If the assignor doesn’t tell you, ask why they need to know the answer to the research question. Where does it fit into the overall case? What is the best answer for the client? Is there a second-best answer? What if you find the opposite of what they want you to find? These pieces of information can be important in knowing what strands of the research are more relevant, help you know when to stop researching, and make you a more efficient researcher.

What are the key facts of the case?

Knowing the key facts will enable you to keep an eye out for case law that is factually analogous to yours. There may be an existing document or filing that lays out the facts in more detail. If so, that document should be your first stop when you have questions.

What is the jurisdiction?

Be sure to pinpoint the relevant jurisdiction. If it is a pending case, the court where it is pending will tell you that. Also be sure to get the docket number from the assignor. If the research question is for a case that is not yet filed, be sure to ask where the case would be filed. If there is a choice of where to file, determine whether the assignor wants information to compare jurisdictions.

What final product does the assignor want from you? A formal memo for the client? A memo for the file? An email that pinpoints the relevant cases? An oral summary? This is very important, especially for time management.

Is the research to be used for a pending motion? If you are helping with a motion for summary judgment, for example, your goal is to find cases that are in the same procedural posture as yours and come out favorably for your side (i.e., if your client is the one filing the motion, try to find cases where a motion for summary judgment was granted, not denied). Keep in mind the burden of proof for different kinds of motions.

Ask for an estimate of how much time/money the assignor expects this to take or is willing to initially authorize. Keep track of the estimate, and as soon as it looks like it might be insufficient, check back in with the assignor for more instructions. Do they want you to go past the estimate? Stop with what you know now? Modify to a narrower track?

Ask for the best times and method (email, phone call, office visit, etc.) to reach the assignor if you need clarification or have follow-up questions. Knowing how and when your assignor should be contacted is core to building and maintaining a positive and successful working relationship.

Reference Shelf

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Master the Legal Memo Format

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legal research assignment


  • Assignments
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You are here

Introduction to legal research.

These slides were developed for a high school class visiting our academic library. Their assignment was to learn how to do legal research to write a history paper on a Congressional bill or Supreme Court case.

Choosing and refining a research topic

Performing background research

Working with secondary and primary sources geared towards legal topics

  • This session was designed for high school students who had limited access to an academic library. Emphasis on open access options was important.

Slides were designed for flipping back and forth with live searching rather than following the slides in linear order with no interruptions.

Copyright icon to go along with copyright rules.

Don’t Pull an All-Nighter for a Research Assignment


Don't pull an all-nighter for a research assignment.

legal research assignment

Work smarter not harder: by organizing your thinking and your research around a time-honored method. And get some sleep!

We know you know not every lawyer goes into litigation – and if you don’t see yourself in a courtroom you might think you can skimp on legal research and writing. Don’t. Do. It.

You have to understand legal foundations and case law to fully understand any area of practice. Legal research and writing are crucial skills to be able to find, interpret and analyze the law, and to articulate a clear and persuasive response. Plus, you need these skills to pass your classes and the bar exam.

legal research assignment

Raise the Question

Spotting the Issues

Knowing how to spot your issues is key to legal writing. Learn that your paramount task is to spot the issues the facts raise, and gain the skills to do this efficiently and effectively.


The CREAC Format

What Comes First: Rule or Application?

Maximize your writing by learning this legal writing formula: Conclusion, Rule, Explanation, Application, and Conclusion.

legal research assignment

As you build out your research, remember these tips:

Update and expand your materials

Determine the end point of your research process

Think creatively about the research process

If your primary sources are duds, consider starting over with secondary sources

Learn about the different research tools and leverage them

Understand that there may not be a direct answer

If you're hitting a brick wall, consider consulting with a librarian, faculty member or Reference Attorney for advice


Hit a roadblock during a legal research assignment? A Reference Attorney can help with that.

Not all heroes wear capes. Did you know Thomson Reuters has real attorneys to help you during your legal research journey?

Getting started.

Don’t know where to begin?

Locating content.

Have you been asked to find something and you’re unsure where to go?

Tackling a new area of law.

Still learning copyright law and other areas?

Best search tips.

Stumped on how and where to search?

Improve research efficiency.

Is your research taking too long or do you have other things to do?

Refining your strategy.

Or don’t have a strategy? (yes, that is important.)

Using legal solutions products.

Not sure what these products do?

legal research assignment

They are just one step away at all times

So why not give them a call? Or chat with them live by clicking “LiveChat” on the bottom left corner of Westlaw and Practical Law.

eLearning Options

Still not feeling very strong in legal research? These eLearning modules will put you on the right track.

Is your case good law, build a research plan, identifying key search terms.

Access our full suite of eLearning

Explore the Guide

Looking for something else? Explore these other topics in the Law School Survival Guide.

legal research assignment

Don’t dread getting called on in class. How to handle cold-calling.

The best free resources for law school subjects.

Survival Guide Home

Law School Home

Adapting to Law School

Legal Research & Writing



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legal research assignment

Statutes on Westlaw - Bonus Entries

Need some inspiration check out the statutes below., key numbers on westlaw - bonus entries, need some inspiration check out these key numbers by using the digest searches below., searching on westlaw - bonus entries, need some search inspiration for your entries check out the sample searches below.

Find helpful tools and gadgets

Because neurodivergent people often need visual prompts or sensory tools, it is helpful to figure out what works best for you. Maybe you need a quiet fidget to use under your desk in class to help you focus. Maybe you need to incorporate the use of timers throughout your day. If you struggle with time blindness, you can use hourglasses to help you visualize time. Perhaps you struggle with extraneous sounds and need to use noise-cancelling headphones. More and more tools and gadgets are being made for neurodiverse individuals that can help you throughout law school.

Find the best time to be productive

Society can dictate when you are supposed to be most productive. See the traditional 9-5 work schedule. However, that model does not always work best for neurodiverse individuals. Some people are not morning people, and that is fine. Figure out when you have the most energy during your day to be your most productive self.

Identify your organizational system

Find one system to use for organization and don’t change it. Trying too many organizational systems can become overwhelming. If your phone calendar works best, use that. If you are a list person, write all the lists. If you are a planner person, find the coolest one to use throughout the school year.

Write everything down

It would be nice to think that you can remember every task or deadline, but let’s be honest, that’s probably not true. Write down every deadline, every task, meeting, assignment, important date, etc. in the organizational system that you use.

Figure out your maximum focus time

Just like you can only put so much gasoline in a car, most neurodiverse individuals only have so much room in their focus tank. Figure out how long you can truly focus and apply yourself to a task before you need a break. That amount of time is typically shorter for neurodiverse individuals. If you can only truly focus for 20 minutes, study for 20 minutes, take a break, and then come back for another 20 minutes.

Find your friends

You may have started law school with your mind full of horror stories. Throw them out the window. Most of the people you attend law school with are genuinely kind and helpful people. Try to find a group or a couple of people that you can trust and lean on when necessary. Your law school friends can help you stay on task, body double, and even provide notes on the days you may be struggling. These friends can be one of your greatest assets throughout your law school journey.

Be honest with your professors

Only discuss your neurodivergence with your professors to the extent that you are comfortable. If there are things you are concerned about related to your neurodivergence, it can be beneficial to make your professors aware at the beginning of the semester. Whether you are worried about cold calling or need a topic broken down, most professors love opportunities to discuss their area of law! They can’t know that you may need help if you don’t let them know. This is especially important if you aren’t successful in getting accommodations from your school’s Disability Services.

Trust your methods

As a neurodivergent student, you may not fit the traditional mold of all the things a law student is “supposed to do” in order to be successful. You have been in school for years, and now is the time to trust yourself and not be afraid to be an “outside of the box” law student. There is no harm in trying new study methods, but never fear going back to your personal basics. If you need help figuring those out, see if your law school has a learning center or faculty member that can assist you.

Outlining with jury instructions.

  • On your Westlaw Precision home screen, click on Secondary Sources and then Jury Instructions .
  • On the Jury Instructions page, use the Jurisdiction filter to select your desired jurisdiction.
  • Search for your cause of action. (Ex. elements of libel in Federal Jury Practice & Instructions )
  • Open your relevant jury instruction and don't forget to check the related notes.
  • To see more instructions, check out the table of contents to your left or click on View Full TOC.

legal research assignment

Citation in a Click

  • Highlight the text you want to copy. Try it out with Miranda v. Arizona
  • Select "Copy with Reference" from the pop-up box.
  • Paste into your word document...and you're done!
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Black's Law Dictionary

Don't guess the meaning of a legal term. know it., by using black’s law dictionary, exclusively on westlaw , you’ll know the meanings of key terms that will help you understand your cases faster, be prepared for cold-calls and beef up your class notes. 1. access black's law dictionary on westlaw., 2. type your term into the dictionary term box. (ex. demurrer ) if your term contains multiple words, place the terms in quotes. (ex. "rule against perpetuities" ), 3. open up your desired term, copy it and paste it into your notes., looking for some inspiration here are a few legal terms to get you started contracts - collateral estoppel - consequential damages civil procedure - minimum contacts - in personam jurisdiction torts - negligence - invasion of privacy criminal law - mayhem - wobbler, where can i learn more about a firm so i can ask good questions in an interview, news is an excellent source for learning about a firm. you’ll see the clients and matters they represent along with the accolades they earned from their communities. 1. click on news under “specialty areas” on your westlaw edge home screen., 2. start by trying a plain language search for your firm. (ex. gibson dunn crutcher ), 3. to up your search game, consider running a terms & connectors search with an index field. (ex. gibson /2 dunn /s crutcher & in(law lawsuit legal) ), start writing your brief without starting from scratch, what is a brief, a brief is a summary of a case in your own words that includes the key facts, procedural history, issues addressed, along with the court's holdings. how can i find a case on westlaw, cases on westlaw contain a synopsis, a summary of the main facts, issues and holdings of a case, and headnotes, summaries of points of law organizes by topic. you can locate cases on westlaw in a variety of ways. find by citation: if you know your case's citation, just type one of the citations in the search box. (ex. 113 sct 2217 ), find by party name: if you know the names of your parties, just start typing them in the search box and select corresponding case from the drop-down menu. (ex. international shoe).

legal research assignment

Note: If your case has common party names, you may need to enter more than one party.

Download your synopsis and headnotes: once you've pulled up your case, click on download under delivery options, select brief it under what to deliver and click on download..

legal research assignment

The right search terms can make a difference. Here is an easy way to come up with smart search terms.

legal research assignment

Rules, Codes & Restatements

Exporting tables of contents, exporting a table of contents is an easy way to get access to a list of rules, codes or restatements that you can reference on the fly and add to your outlines, as needed. locate your rules, codes or restatement: to export a toc (table of contents), you'll first want to locate your resource. restatement of torts restatement of contracts restatement of property federal rules of civil procedure ucc article 2 federal rules of evidence united states constitution, export your toc: click on download, select outline of current view under what to deliver and then click on download..

legal research assignment

Strengthen Your Interview Discussions with News

  • Search for a particular firm, attorney, or agency. (Ex. Kirkland and Ellis or Fourth Circuit )
  • Or select a specific practice area (Ex. Mergers & Acquisitions )

American Law Reports

Your go-to secondary source, finding an a.l.r. (american law reports) article covering your topic is a great starting point for research. you'll get a quick summary of the legal issue you're researching and a table of cases, laws, and rules to see the law across all jurisdictions. you can also use annotations to find additional secondary sources, such as legal encyclopedias, treatises, and periodicals. no wonder they're nicknamed already done legal research see it in action: the legal discussion to compensate student athletes is heating up. check out this alr article to see how the legal picture for tomorrow’s student athletes comes together in one place., keycite graphical history, procedural history made easy, are you reading a case and not sure how you got there procedurally reversed, remanded or otherwise, we got you. just sign into westlaw and follow the steps below... 1. grab one of the citations you see in your case book and type it into the search box on westlaw . (ex. 480 u.s. 102), 2. click on your case in the drop-down menu., 3. click on the history tab to see your procedural history., keycite graphical history works best when you have a federal case and a complex issue. check out some additional examples from your classes below. contracts - koken v. black & veatch const., inc. - lamps plus, inc. v. varela civil procedure - national equipment rental v. szukhent - helicopteros nacionales de colombia, s.a. v. hall torts - palsgraf v. long island r. co. - kentucky fried chicken of cal., inc. v. superior court, law school resource center, flowcharts, overviews & more..

follow link

Scheduled Maintenance

Step 1 - create a new class, step 3 - invite your students, step 2 - assign lessons.

About this event

legal research assignment

Love Your Lawyer Day

legal research assignment

All the rules you need for class in one place.

Understand the procedural history of your case..

legal research assignment

Don't guess the meaning of a term. Know it.

legal research assignment

Copy the Code Below

You'll use this code to make a copy of the sample course.

Click on Copy Another Class

Go to the Knowledge Center and click on the Copy Another Class button.

Enter Your Copy Code

Enter your copy code in the Enter Class Copy Code box and click the Validate button.

4. Set Your Options

Change your course title, set your course dates and set your copy option to Assignments Only.

5. Click Copy Course

Click on Copy Course and you're all set to share your course with students.

1. Copy the Code Below

2. click on copy another class, 3. enter your copy code, set your options, click copy course, determining whether a federal court has subject matter jurisdiction over a non-class action case..

If the case arises out of the U.S. Constitution, U.S. laws, rules or regulations, or a treaty signed by the U.S., and the federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction, then the case must be litigated in federal court.

If the case does not arise out of the U.S. Constitution, U.S. laws, rules or regulations, or a treaty signed by the U.S., and there is not complete diversity between the plaintiffs and defendants (a.k.a they are both from different states or one is a citizen of a foreign country), then the case must be litigated in state court.

Restatement of Contracts 2d


(1) A counter-offer is an offer made by an offeree to his offeror relating to the same matter as the original offer and proposing a substituted bargain differing from that proposed by the original offer.

(2) An offeree’s power of acceptance is terminated by his making of a counter-offer, unless the offeror has manifested a contrary intention or unless the counter-offer manifests a contrary intention of the offeree.

Negligence Defined

Restatement (second) of torts 282.

In the Restatement of this Subject, negligence is conduct which falls below the standard established by law for the protection of others against unreasonable risk of harm. It does not include conduct recklessly disregardful of an interest of others.

Black’s Law Dictionary (10th ed.2014)

Demurrer: A means of objecting to the sufficiency in law of a pleading by admitting the actual allegations made by disputing that they frame an adequate claim. Demurrer is commonly known as a motion to dismiss.

(2) An offeree’s power of acceptance is terminated by his making a counter-off, unless the offeror has manifested a contrary intention or unless the counter-offer manifests a contrary intention of the offeree.

testing footnote

What is common law and is it written by the courts of law?

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legal research assignment

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Negligence defined

Restatement (second) of torts § 282.

Introduction to legal research

  • What is legal research?
  • Law Library and the Librarian Team
  • Sources of legal information
  • Common research-based assignments
  • Legal research strategy
  • Academic misconduct
  • Referencing and the AGLC4

4. Common research-based assignments

There are three common research-based law assignments: the problem-based scenario, the law reform proposal, and the research essay. The type of assignment you are working on will impact your research strategy, including which legal sources you will consult.

Problem-based scenario

A typical problem-based assignment will provide you with a set of facts and a problem, and ask you to advise your client. When researching this assignment you will focus on finding and applying the legal rules ('authorities'). Secondary sources may be used as a reference point, but are unlikely to be heavily cited.

Robert Smith was ‘king hit’ on the back of his head while on the premises of the Santa Lucia Hotel by Mr Hyde, an excessively drunken patron in an unprovoked attack. Robert is currently in hospital fighting for his life. Advise the hotel proprietors whether they are liable for not taking reasonable care to protect Robert Smith from the attack.

Law reform proposal

A typical law reform assignment will ask you to analyse an existing area of law and make recommendations on how to improve the law or to discuss the merits of a proposed change to the law. Law reform assignments are some of the most research-intensive assignments, requiring the use of legislative materials, case law and secondary sources. Law reform research is strongly comparative: you will often need to look to other jurisdictions to see how they have dealt with a particular legal issue or problem.

The Queensland Government is considering removing the partial defence of provocation — outlined in 304 of the  Criminal Code — citing the need for the Code to reflect "community standards". Discuss the purpose and history of the defence; its elements; and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of removing the defence from Queensland law.

Essays can be comparative, argumentative, or discursive. The research component of a legal essay will depend to a great extent on the exact nature of the topic. Essays are more likely to rely on secondary sources than problem-based assignments. 

In Australia, judges are appointed by the government instead of through elections, as occurs in some US jurisdictions. Compare and contrast the two systems of appointing judges. What are the strengths and weaknesses in both approaches in promoting judicial independence?

  • Legal Research Essentials
  • Secondary sources
  • Legislation

Graduate attributes

Knowledge and skills you can gain from this module will contribute to your  Graduate Attributes :

legal research assignment

  Quick links

  • Legal Research Guide
  • Short guide to the Australian Guide to Legal Citation (AGLC4)  

legal research assignment


  1. Legal Research and Writing Assignment

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  2. Hcs 430 week 3 team assignment summary of research for legal project

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  1. Legal Studies Essay Structure Tips from a State Ranker

  2. Operation Research/Assignment Problems-1 /B Com 6th sem/P U Chd

  3. Applied Legal Research Micro-Certificate: Statutory Law

  4. Chapter 11 Research Assignment Video

  5. Research Assignment/ Scientific Method

  6. Legal Research: Accessing Legal Research Platforms at UCF


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  2. Common Mistakes to Avoid When Writing an Assignment Answer

    Writing an assignment answer can be a challenging task, especially if you’re not familiar with the topic or haven’t done proper research. However, there are some common mistakes that many students make when crafting their assignment answers...

  3. What Is the Meaning of Experimental Research?

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  4. Basic Legal Research Guide: Research Strategy

    It is most likely that this assignment will be your trial brief in the second semester of Legal Writing. The steps outlined here are intended to assist you in

  5. (DOC) Assignment on Legal Research

    Three types of data collection techniques may be used in such method. One to one (Depth) Interviews:- These interviews can be carried out to learn deeply

  6. Assignments & Worksheets

    Goal: The goal of this assignment is to apply what we learned in class about basic criminal law research to a hypothetical criminal law

  7. Legal Research Assignment Preparation Checklist

    Checklist – Getting the Assignment · Think ahead, come prepared · Take a lot of notes · Do you understand what is being asked of you? · Ask

  8. Introduction to Legal Research

    These slides were developed for a high school class visiting our academic library. Their assignment was to learn how to do legal research to

  9. Don't Pull an All-Nighter for a Research Assignment

    Organize your thinking, legal research and writing so you can tackle law school assignments effectively and get some sleep!


    Note: The Research Memorandum Research Assignment is due at the start of class. Late assignments will not receive P+E points. Bring your.

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    Studying LLH201 Legal Research at Queensland University of Technology? On Studocu you will find 121 assignments, 45 tutorial work, 31 lecture notes and much

  12. Assignment 1 Legal research methods (docx)

    It provides access to a process that allows parties to resolve disputes on a pragmatic and cost-effective basis, regardless of the justice of the case. Parties

  13. Introduction to legal research

    When researching this assignment you will focus on finding and applying the legal

  14. Creating Effective Legal Research Exercises

    At George Washington University Law School, the Legal Research and Writing Program has developed guidelines for constructing research assignments that allow the