10 Useful Tips for Improving Legal Research

Legal research is a vital part of the legal profession, and it is essential for any lawyer or legal professional to possess excellent research skills. With the advent of technology and the internet, legal research has become more accessible than ever before. However, this also means that there is a vast amount of information available, making it challenging to locate relevant and reliable sources quickly. In this article, we will explore ten useful tips for improving legal research to help you become more efficient in your research and ensure that you find the information you need accurately and promptly.

Tip 1: Identify the Relevant Law The first and foremost tip for improving legal research is to identify the relevant law. It is crucial to know what area of law applies to your research topic. This will help you focus your research efforts and avoid wasting time looking for information that is not relevant to your case or matter.

Tip 2: Use Primary Sources One of the most critical tips for legal research is to use primary sources. Primary sources are legal materials that have the force of law, such as statutes, regulations, and court decisions. Using primary sources will help you gain a deeper understanding of the law and ensure that you have accurate and reliable information.

Tip 3: Use Secondary Sources In addition to primary sources, it is also essential to use secondary sources, such as law review articles, treatises, and legal encyclopedias. Secondary sources can provide you with background information, analysis, and interpretation of legal issues, helping you understand the law better.

Tip 4: Utilize Online Databases With the internet, legal research has become more accessible than ever before. Online databases, such as LexisNexis, Westlaw, and Trellis, provide access to a vast amount of legal information, including case law, statutes, and regulations. Using online databases can help you find relevant information quickly and efficiently.

Tip 5: Use Advanced Search Techniques To improve your legal research skills, it is essential to master advanced search techniques. Most online databases have advanced search features that allow you to refine your search and narrow down the results to find the most relevant information.

Tip 6: Stay Organized Legal research involves a lot of information, and it is essential to stay organized. Keeping track of your research notes and sources can help you avoid duplicating efforts and ensure that you can find information quickly when you need it.

Tip 7: Keep Up to Date Laws and regulations are continually changing, and it is essential to keep up to date with the latest developments. Reading legal publications, attending conferences and seminars, and subscribing to legal newsletters can help you stay informed and up to date with the latest legal developments.

Tip 8: Collaborate with Others Collaborating with other legal professionals can also improve your legal research skills. Discussing legal issues and sharing knowledge and expertise can help you gain new perspectives and insights that can enhance your research efforts.

Tip 9: Know When to Stop Legal research can be time-consuming, and it is crucial to know when to stop. Spending too much time on research can be counterproductive, and it is essential to recognize when you have found enough information to make an informed decision.

Tip 10: Use Common Sense Finally, one of the most useful tips for improving legal research is to use common sense. Legal research can be complex, but it is essential to approach it with a clear and logical mind. Taking a common-sense approach can help you understand the law better and find the information you need more efficiently.

Overall, legal research is a critical skill for any lawyer or legal professional. By following these tips, you can improve your legal research skills and become more efficient and effective in your research.

Prior to founding Trellis, Nicole Clark was a business litigation and labor and employment attorney who handled litigation in both state and federal courts. She regularly represented multinational corporations in claims ranging from high-profile trade secret disputes to complex class-action litigation. Frustrated by sending internal emails and collecting anecdotes on judges in order to make strategic case recommendations, she built Trellis to solve her own need for access to data, information, and analytics at the state trial court level. Prior to law school, Nicole attended Bard College, beginning her college coursework at the age of sixteen. She graduated with honors from University of Massachusetts Amherst with a BA in Journalism, and received her Juris Doctorate from Rutgers School of Law in Newark, NJ. Nicole sat for the Bar Exam in California, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, and remains licensed to practice law in all three states.