Category Archives: Legal Research

Library Highlights: Legal Research

basic legal researchBasic Legal Research: Tools and Strategies, 5th Edition

Amy E. Sloan

KF240 .S585 2012

From the Publisher: This best-selling coursebook on legal research is known for its clear, step-by-step instruction in the basics. Using a building-block approach, Basic Legal Research: Tools and Strategies, Fifth Edition breaks material into discrete, readily comprehensible parts. Self-contained chapters on sources make the book flexible for any type of legal research course.

Process of Legal ResearchThe Process of Legal Research: Authorities and Options

Christina L. Kunz et al.

KF240 .P76 2012

From the Publisher: A time-tested, proven introduction, The Process of Legal Research acquaints students with all of the sources and relevant vocabulary and shows how each source works, how to combine sources into a cohesive research process, and how to resolve legal problems through effective techniques. Extensive illustrations and examples quickly engage students in actual research problems, as the text carefully demonstrates how research and writing are interrelated processes.

Just ResearchJust Research, Third Edition

Laurel Currie Oates

KF240 .O18 2011

From the Publisher: Just Research, Third Edition, offers students and professors a unique and up-to-date approach to the fundamentals of legal research. Instead of simply describing sources, Just Research goes a step further and shows students how to use those sources to research a variety of issues, including issues governed by common law, issues governed by state and federal statutes, issues governed by local law, constitutional law issues, issues governed by local law, and factual issues.

Legal Research Guide Patterns and PracticeLegal Research Guide: Patterns and Practice, Sixth Edition

Bonita K. Roberts

KF240 .R63 2011

From the Publisher: In this Sixth Edition, a new chapter explains the interrelationship of manual and electronic research. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages. To do legal research accurately, quickly, and efficiently, the researcher must have a basic understanding of each method. Each is an important component and is best suited to certain types of information. Even with advances in electronic research, the authors believe that it is important to understand the manual research process and that some research can still be done more efficiently or completely through manual research due to the time and substance restrictions in databases.

Legal Research in CaliforniaLegal Research in California, 7th ed.

John K Hanft

KFC74 .H36 2011

From the Publisher: This title gives you comprehensive guidance on California-specific research, and includes appropriate coverage of national and federal materials. The author presents a detailed overview of the legal research environment, and devotes chapters to each branch of government and the legal materials it produces. Detailed coverage includes case reporting, and case law, statutory law, and administrative law.

Impeccable ResearchImpeccable Research: A Concise Guide to Mastering Legal Research Skills

Mark K. Osbeck

KF240 .O82 2010

From the Publisher: This book stresses a systematic, problem-solving approach to legal research. It sets out a clear, step-by-step research strategy that guides students through the research process. The book also includes a section on tips for avoiding common research pitfalls, a troubleshooting guide for helping students overcome the occasional problems that may crop up in their legal research projects, and a summary of the various primary and secondary sources of law and their use. This book serves as a reference guide for law students and young lawyers, as well as an innovative classroom text on legal research.

Meet Our New Reference Librarian

Meet Marie Templo-Capule, our new reference librarian.

She has more than 10 years of experience in law library public services. Before joining TJSL, she was the Collection Development and Reference Librarian at Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Michigan. She also served as the Tax Research Specialist for the Taxation LL.M. program. She has taught print and electronic legal research for Research and Writing, Advanced Research and Writing, Scholarly Writing, Moot Court, Pre-Trials Skills, Estate Planning, and Tax Research.

She received her Juris Doctor from Thomas M. Cooley Law School and earned an LL.M. in Taxation at NYU School of Law. While working as the Tax Research Specialist in Cooley, she decided to pursue her Masters of Library and Information Science at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. She is an active member of the California and Michigan Bars.

Aside from helping faculty and students with their research and reference questions, she will teach the Advanced Legal Research class. She also looks forward to working closely with the Graduate Program at TJSL.

If you don’t see her at the reference desk, please stop by in her office, Room 455, she is available to help you with your legal research.

What’s New in the Library? Research Classes & Noise Report

What’s New in the Library

Legal Research Classes

Upcoming Mini-Classes at the Library 4th Floor Learning Center

mini-classes Sept 2012

Lexis Advance Training

Enjoy free lunch while learning how to use Lexis Advance.

Sept. 26 @ noon

Rm. 320

* Space & food is limited so please pre-register at http://www.lexisnexis.com/lawschool

* All who attend will also receive 400 points (equivalent to a $5 Amazon/iTunes/Starbucks gift card)

Library Noise

Reminder! Please be respectful of your fellow students and maintain silence in  Library on the 5th floor.

5th floor noise map

Research Tips: Top five tips for selecting a paper topic

Right around now, many of you are trying to choose paper topics for your final papers or for law review. Once you have a topic, you will be doing preemption checks to ensure that no one else has written on your topic. You will also want to do a literature review  to find everything written on your topic.

Some people have come to get extra training in legal research to help with this paper writing process. Find the Legal Research Training page on TWEN and use the sign-up sheets to sign up for a training session. Email reference librarian Catherine Deane with any questions.

Here are my top five tips for finding a paper topic:

  1. Check to see if there is a Research Guide  on your topic that provides links to relevant news sources
  2. Know where the Databases  are on the TJSL Library Home Page, log in with your network ID and check to see if there are any BNA databases that cover your subject: Hint: Look for circuit splits eg in BNA United States Law Week  
  3. Check out ABA Blawgs  and read any frequently and recently updated blogs on your topic
  4. Check out reputable news sources such as: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, NPR News
  5. Check out the websites of relevant organizations and look for recent reports, eg. United Nations, International Labor Organization, Amnesty International

Once you have selected a topic, you will want to find all relevant literature  on your topic. This is partly so that you  can make sure no one else has written exactly on your topic, and partly to have a body of literature to build on when you make your own argument.

Consider using a model like the Steven Toulmin Model   to analyze the articles and organize your argument.

 

Find out what research skills you will be expected to have as a new law firm associate

Acting Library Director Patrick Meyer recently gave a presentation that summarized his 2010 law firm legal research e-survey findings.

The survey answers the questions of:

  • what research tasks must new law firm associates know and in what format(s)
  • the particulars of law firm online pricing plans
  • common costly online research mistakes, and
  • which print sets are likely to stay in most firms

The accompanying PowerPoint slides and a draft law review article that contains the updated 2010 research results are available at his SSRN homepage at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/cf_dev/AbsByAuth.cfm?per_id=1093004. The documents in question are numbers 2 & 3 on this page.

2.  2011 Law Firm Legal Research Requirements for New Attorneys

3.  2011 Presentation on Law Firm Legal Research Requirements of New Hires

Legal Research Training Opportunities at TJSL

Photo Courtesy Alexander Henning Drachmann

You can have a say in how and when you learn how to conduct legal research.

Check out this new 10 question survey prepared by the TJSL librarians.

Let your voice be heard on when, where, and how you would like to learn how to do legal research?

Do you want a mini-class right a few weeks before your final paper is due?

Do you want a legal research boot camp over the break?

Do you want to wait until you are an alumni, doing research for your new boss?

When would you like to learn legal research skills?

Tell us!

Help With Final Papers

As your final papers become due, let me remind you of the resources that are currently available to you for help with final papers.

For help with legal research, you may contact the TJSL reference librarians

June Mac Leod jmacleod@tjsl.edu

and

Catherine Deane cdeane@tjsl.edu

or circulation librarians:

Hadas Livnat hlivnat@tjsl.edu

and

Torin Andrews tandrews@tjsl.edu

If you need help immediately, you can try the legal research tutorials and research guides, you may be able to find one on your topic.

As always the library provides a virtual reference service, AskThom, you can use this to contact library staff for immediate answers during hours when the library is open.

To find books and journals available at TJSL, use ThomCat, the online catalog. Be sure to type in the name of the book or journal. A search for the title of an article will yield nothing in ThomCat.

To search for individual articles, search Westlaw, Lexis or HeinOnline.

For legal news on a particular topic, try the Westlaw and Lexis news databases, or check to see if there is a BNA publication for your area of law. You can find the BNA database on our Library Research Page. Login with your email user ID and password.

You can also access our online databases through ThomCat.

2Ls: Consider Advanced Legal Research

As the the time draws near to begin selecting courses for the Spring 2012 semester.

2Ls may want to consider two things:
1. Legal Research is in the top 10 skills needed to succeed in the legal field

2. Advanced Legal Research will be taught in the Spring

Do you know the difference between a statute and a regulation?

Do you know how to find administrative law materials?

Can you find out the lawmakers’ intent with respect to a particular statute?

Do you know the difference between court rules and local rules?

Do you know how to find a brief that has been filed in a federal or state case?

How will you conduct research if your firm does not have access to Westlaw or Lexis?

What is a Case Digest?

How do you make sure the law you have found is the most recent version of the law?

Do you know how to Shepardize all the citations in a document at once?

You can learn all this and more in Advanced Legal Research. Sign-up and find out what all the fuss is about.

The video below was made by law students to showcase the kinds of legal research tips that can make your research experience more successful.

Tips for Using CalJur in Print

Recently many 1Ls have been coming to the library and using the legal encyclopedia. Some users have reminded me greatly of the classic Sesame Street clip where a boy gives an alien directions to his mothership. In their haste to get to the answer, some law students have been rushing to search for their keywords in the text itself, or rushing to look in the text for the reference given in the index without following the steps to do so. The result is that students have been becoming frustrated unnecessarily because they are not using a step by step procedure.

Step By Step Flow Chart for using CalJur in Print (pdf)

Scenario

Let us say that you have been hired at a small law firm that does not have a subscription to Westlaw or Lexis, or that does not allow new associates to use the online databases for fear that they will unwittingly run up huge bills. You are tasked with looking up in the print legal encyclopedia, a particular issue related to your case.

Key Words

You brainstorm and come up with the terms:

  1. Controlled Substances
  2. Children
  3. Forfeiture of property

Index

You look them up in the Index in that order (If you look up Children first, when you get to where Controlled substances would be located as a subheading under children it will send you to the Controlled Substances and Drug Abuse heading in the index).

You find that the section on forfeiture of property belonging to children and minors is referred to as: CLCADM § 149

Table of Abbreviations 

Since you do not know what CLCADM stands for, you flip to the beginning of the index where there is a table of abbreviations. You look up the abbreviation CLCADM and you find that it stands for “Criminal Law: Crimes Against Administration of Justice”

Encyclopedia: Alphabetic Order

You then look for this entry in the set of encyclopedia. You browse the volumes looking for where this entry falls alphabetically.

You find that the term “Criminal Law: Crimes Against Administration of Justice” is written on the spine, and you look for your entry in the volume labeled:

“Criminal Law: Core Aspects

to

Criminal Law: Crimes Against Administration of Justice and Public Order”

Now, what if the term were not visible on the spine.

For instance, let’s say you were looking up the reference INVESTSEC § 39

INVESTSEC refers to Investment Securities and if you browse the volumes of Cal Jur, you will see that the volume you need is

“Interference with Economic Advantage

To

Judges”

The term “Investment Securities” falls alphabetically between these two terms, so you know that you can find the term “Investment Securities” in this volume.

 Topic first; Section second

Going back to our Example of CLCADM § 149 which we know refers to Criminal Law: Crimes Against Administration of Justice § 149, you open the book that contains this reference, and then you first need to find the right topic. There is more than one topic in this book and therefore possibly more than one § 149. First look at the top of the page and make sure you are looking at the Criminal Law: Crimes Against Administration of Justice topic. Then look within this topic for section 149.

 Footnotes for citations to Primary law

When you find the part of this section that discusses your issue, you may need to find the primary source that supports that particular answer. To find the primary source, you need to see if there is a footnote related to the sentence discussing your issue. Footnotes will be at the bottom of the page, Look first in the footnotes for the Section number, eg [Section 149] then for the specific footnote. Numbering for the footnotes for each individual section begins with 1. This means you must be careful to find the right section before you look for the numbered footnote.

Update in Pocket Part

Once you have found your entry, your task may not be over, you still need to update your research. Recent changes in the law will be reflected in the pocket parts. These are softbound publications placed in the back pocket of the relevant encyclopedia volume that indicate changes in the law between the time when the hardbound edition was published and the time when the softbound pocket part was published.

For the CLCADM § 149 entry, there is no pocket part and no update available at this time. However for INVESTSEC § 6, we find that there is an entry in the pocket part. To determine when the pocket part was published, look at the first page of the pocket part. It will say “ISSUED” followed by the date of publication. Stamped on the pocket part is the date it was received by the library. If you need information that is more up to date than the Issued date, you will need to examine the online database version of CalJur from Westlaw or Lexis.

 Video Tutorials 

Here is a video tutorial from USD on Using CalJur and Witkin’s.

TJSL Video on Using Secondary Sources

Take the Library Tour!

Confused about the layout of the library? Not sure where to find international law and where the State Codes are hiding? Ask a librarian to take the tour.

As a new associate, you will be expected to know how to research print materials. As a solo lawyer, it will be to your benefit to take advantages of our free legal resources. A lot of new lawyers spend a lot of time in the library. Why not jump-start your way into print research knowledge while still in law school?

The library at TJSL is organized into a lot of special collections, such as the California Collection, the Federal Collection, the General Collection, and so on. Knowing where each collection is located could greatly assist you to find print materials in the library. Tours also include instructions how to use Thomcat, our library catalogue, which lists all print and electronic resources available at the library.

To arrange a tour, please contact Catherine Deane at cdeane@tjsl.edu or Hadas Livnat at hlivnat@tjsl.edu.

Important Collections!

4th floor, circulation desk area:
Study Aids
Self-Help Section
Thomas Jefferson Collection
Reference Collection

4th floor:
California Collection
Federal Collection
Foreign/International Materials Collection
State Codes/Regional Reporters
Popular Reading, magazines & Newspaper

5th floor:
Law reviews and journals
General Collection