Legal Research Demystified: A Step-by-Step Approach (Table of Contents and Chapter 5 on Research Plans)
Legal Research Demystified: A Step-by-Step Approach (Carolina Academic Press, 2019), ISBN 9781531007836
37 Pages Posted: 20 Mar 2019 Last revised: 12 Mar 2020
Date Written: May 1, 2019
Legal Research Demystified offers a fresh approach to finding and understanding the law. This textbook is the first of its kind for law students. It breaks the research process into discrete steps, guiding students through eight steps to research common law issues (in eight chapters) and ten steps to research statutory issues (in ten chapters). Each chapter focuses on one research step and discusses the finding tools and sources necessary to complete the step.
Importantly, this textbook teaches information literacy—the skills needed to develop research strategies and to evaluate the relevance and significance of each legal authority found. This textbook helps students create effective strategies by identifying common research roadblocks and offering potential solutions. For instance, students learn what to do when their online searches yield too little or too many secondary sources or other authorities.
Students also learn information literacy through the book’s accompanying online exercises. One interactive exercise requires students to research a common law negligence issue where the client’s dog was killed by the neighbor’s vehicle. Students must not only find the cases but also evaluate whether the cases are relevant and binding. For example, they need to decide whether the rules from a case involving veterinary malpractice apply to the client’s situation. Additionally, when researching a statutory issue, students must determine the language and effective dates of the various amendments to understand why several binding cases appear to conflict.
The interactive exercises are available on Carolina Academic Press’s new online platform, Core Knowledge for Lawyers. (Professors can create an account for free at https://coreknowledgeforlawyers.com.) As students electronically answer each question, Core Knowledge will provide instant feedback and an explanation of the right answer—just like Core Grammar.
In short, the book’s approach to legal research empowers students to navigate the research process, evaluate the authorities, and maneuver around the inevitable potholes of the journey.
The attached excerpt includes the table of contents for the book, the entire chapter on creating research plans, and a chart identifying binding cases in almost every situation.
Keywords: legal research, teaching legal research, research process, online research, research exercises, research exercise, research plan, Westlaw, Lexis Advance, Casemaker, Fastcase
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