Legal Research Methods
We are committed to promoting the most cost effective legal research methods available. As the legal industry changes, so does the opportunity to find new avenues of legal research. Although now as robust as Westlaw or LexisNexis, there are several websites available for research. These are some of the best.
Google Scholar. Mainly appellate and supreme court cases since 1950 and federal cases since 1923.
Public Library of the Law. Although the state appellate court section is lacking (it only has 1997-present), the federal section has a lot of material.
Congress.gov. This website has federal legislative information.
FDsys. Has extensive federal research for the code of federal regulations.
Bloomberg Law. This subscription service is significantly cheaper than Westlaw or Lexis with much of the same information.
HeinOnline. The interesting thing about this service is that it has older materials not found elsewhere and every document is a PDF of the original reporter page. It also has law review articles, regulations and other materials.
Lindley Law Firm PLLC This Waco personal injury attorney firm has a robust website for those looking for good information about Texas law.
The Process of Legal Research
There are bacic steps to follow in any legal research issues. Below is a helpful flowchart for beginning your search.
As you can see, it is important to get in mind a list of important keywords and concepts for your search. If you are not very familiar with the law, it is best to start with a secondary source like a law review or TexJur or AmJur. Next, you will need to determine the jurisdictional law that you need. Search the primary law until you keep seeing the same answers over and over. Make sure you use citators, like Shepard’s service, to ensure your case or statute has not been overruled. Determine the format of the answer and check the Bluebook for proper citation format. At that point you’re ready to write.
Modern legal technology has made a lawyer’s job faster. In a research study, it was found hat those using internet based research were 3 times faster than those who used books alone. Additionally, sharing legal research within an organization using workflow processes can encourage collaboration and decrease costs for clients, because they are not charged for “reinventing the wheel.” One way to do this is by organizing research by practice area or issue instead of just by case.