Tag Archives: Law Students

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

How to Succeed on Law School Exams

The law library’s guide, Exam Study Materials at TJSL  lists books on exam taking, and lists study aids available in the library for various courses such as Civil Procedure, Professional Responsibility and Torts.

Law school exam advice from the blogosphere:

Exam Prep Made Simple: Organize Your Thoughts – The Girl’s Guide to Law School
It’s Thanksgiving, Should You Be Flipping Out About Exams? – The Girl’s Guide to Law School
Common Errors in Exam Study – Amy Jarmon, Law School Academic Support Blog
Some Quotes to Keep in Mind - Law School Academic Support Blog

Law School Exam Tips – Law School Academic Support Blog

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

Google: Search like a competent lawyer

Google is a good starting point for doing legal research, as long as you bear in mind two things:

1. Who is providing the information?

  • You have to make a considered decision regarding the reliability of the source of the information you are retrieving using the Google Search Engine

2. Is that information the most up-to-date?

  • You must use a citator service to  update information found on the free Web

Beyond these basics, if you are going to use Google to do legal research, particularly if you are doing this to save money, you should learn how to search in the most efficient and effective ways, and that means learning the tricks, tips and shortcuts, including how to do a Boolean Search.

A good handbook for using Google in your law practice is:

Levitt, C. A., & Rosch, M. E. (2010). Google for lawyers: Essential search tips and productivity tools. Chicago, Ill: American Bar Association, Law Practice Management Section.

Which you may borrow  from the TJSL Library.

Some basic things you should be aware of:

You can use “site:.gov” to limit your searches  to government websites

  • Or replace .gov with any domain name eg. About.com to limit search results to the about.com website

You can use Boolean connectors and this will give you more precise search results more quickly, saving you time and this is less legal research time you will have to try to convince your client to pay for.

  • The more productive you are, the happier your clients are and the more money you make in the end.

Use Google Advanced Search to:

  • search for keywords in a particular part of the page
  • restrict your search to dates
  • search for a particular file type, eg. Pdfs
  • search for results aimed at a particular reading level
  • Find similar items once you find one good one

Other Useful Google Search Tools:

You will be expected to use Google to :

  • search for facts that lead you to solid evidence, and
  • to be cost effective about performing preliminary legal research on a topic.

Learning how to use Google skillfully is part of learning to be a competent lawyer. Browse the resources linked to above to start improving your Google search techniques.

How will you change the way that you use Google to do research?