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Strategies for Stellar Legal Research: Helping Law Students Avoid Common Mistakes

3 Pages Posted: 11 Oct 2012 Last revised: 13 Jul 2013

Eric Voigt

Faulkner University, Jones School of Law; R+W Legal Consultants, LLC

Date Written: October 10, 2012


I drafted this eight-step guide to help my students effectively research legal authority for their memos and briefs. Young attorneys would also benefit from this guide.

Instead of having a systematic approach to researching a legal issue, students want to conduct legal research like they use Google to find restaurants or movie times. They often start on Lexis Advance or WestlawNext, type in a few search terms, and expect relevant authority for their legal issues. This guide is intended to break them of that bad habit.

This guide sets forth eight simple steps that students should follow in researching statutes and cases using print and online resources. It discusses secondary sources, annotated statutory codes, the West Digest System, LexisNexis and Westlaw, citation services, and other finding tools.

I have also drafted an exercise that walks students through most of these steps. If you want that exercise, please email me.

Keywords: annotated code, law school, law students, research guide, research, common law research, statutes, statutory research, digest, legal research

Suggested Citation

Voigt, Eric, Strategies for Stellar Legal Research: Helping Law Students Avoid Common Mistakes (October 10, 2012). Available at SSRN: or

Eric Voigt (Contact Author)

Faulkner University, Jones School of Law ( email )

5245 Atlanta Highway
Montgomery, AL 36109
United States


R+W Legal Consultants, LLC ( email )

Montgomery, AL 36117
United States


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