Thinking Like a Librarian: Tips for Better Legal Research

24 Pages Posted: 2 Aug 2010

Date Written: July 30, 2010


When it comes to conducting legal research, being able to think like a lawyer is a good start. A researcher needs to be able to identify issues, read and analyze primary sources like cases and statutes, and determine which materials are relevant. But in order to find those primary sources, a good researcher needs to think not just like a lawyer, but also like a librarian; in particular, a law librarian.

Law librarians make excellent legal researchers for two reasons: (1) their knowledge of general (non-law specific) research techniques, and (2) their knowledge of legal resources and law-related research tools. By applying traditional research techniques to the legal field, law librarians are able to research more efficiently and effectively.

This article will offer four research tips for thinking like a librarian that will improve one’s legal research. Everyone in the legal profession – law students doing research for a paper or as a faculty research assistant, summer associates and new attorneys doing research for more senior attorneys, and law professors and seasoned attorneys researching for themselves – can benefit from the ideas covered in this article.

Keywords: legal research, law librarianship, cost-effective research

Suggested Citation

Buckingham, Richard, Thinking Like a Librarian: Tips for Better Legal Research (July 30, 2010). Thomas M. Cooley Journal of Practical and Clinical Law, Vol. 12, p. 1, 2009, Suffolk University Law School Research Paper No. 10-34, Available at SSRN:

Richard Buckingham (Contact Author)

Suffolk University Law School ( email )

120 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02108-4977
United States

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