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Crash Course in Legal Research May 20 & May 25, 2011 UC Hastings College of the Law Library.

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Presentation on theme: "Crash Course in Legal Research May 20 & May 25, 2011 UC Hastings College of the Law Library."— Presentation transcript:

1 Crash Course in Legal Research May 20 & May 25, 2011 UC Hastings College of the Law Library

2 Librarians to Contact for Help Susan Nevelow Mart ( Hilary Hardcastle ( Chuck Marcus ( Vince Moyer ( Linda Weir ( Tony Pelczynski (

3 Take a Tour Visit the real libraryreal library Visit the virtual libraryvirtual library

4 Getting the Assignment – Ask the Reporter’s Questions WHO WHAT WHERE WHEN WHY HOW Thanks to Paul D. Callister, UMKC Scholl of Law Library

5 WHO Are the parties? Which side: Of the lawsuit? Of the transaction? Any legal entities involved? Is the audience for my work? Else has worked on a similar case?

6 WHAT Are the facts/descriptive words? Are the legal issues/descriptive words? Are the sources? Ask for obvious missing important facts or information Should the work product look like? Are the cost constraints?

7 WHERE Jurisdiction ▫ Federal? ▫ One circuit? ▫ Other states? ▫ State? ▫ Choice of law?

8 WHY Objectives? Results Looking For?

9 WHEN Is it due? Are there other deadlines for review?

10 HOW Much time should I allocate to this?

11 Level 1 - Frame Your Issues Decide what you need to find and formulate the question(s) you are researching. Figure out what secondary sources (including work product) will best address your research needs (and ASK if you are not sure). Read the secondary sources to get context. Check your plan again and see if your research to date requires you to get clarification, if you have gotten off track with your research, or if your research to date opens new avenues you need to think about..

12 Tip: Write It Down and Play It Back Write down the assignment and “replay” to the requestor. Check back in to confirm that you are on track. Make sure that “the ball hasn’t moved.”

13 READ The cases and statutes referred to in your secondary sources

14 Level 2 – Refine Your Search and Update Once you have context, background, and citations to good primary law, come up with your secondary research plan. If you are looking for case law, you could refine your search strategy and then use case databases, headnotes and key numbers to find cases that are more factually similar to your client’s case and to make sure all your cases are still good law. If a statute applies in your case, you can use annotated statutes to find good cases. There is no one strategy that will work with every problem. But breaking your problem down into parts and making sure you understand the context of the problem will always help.


16 Tip: Be A Skeptic Maintain a certain skepticism about the facts each side relates. Understand that the facts are the subject of the dispute as well as the law. What you are told are the “facts” need to be verified, and possibly proven in court.

17 RECORD Your search results: ▫ You may have to justify the thoroughness of your searching ▫ And someone may pick up the file after you and will not want to reinvent the wheel ▫ ▫

18 Tip: Start With a Treatise or Practice Guide Treatises and practice guides come first! Get context. After you have context, use the leading primary sources found to locate case law that more closely tracks the facts of the client’s case.

19 Treatises & Practice Guides Primary vs. Secondary Authority Types of Treatises ▫ Comprehensive ▫ Single Volume ▫ Practitioner Guides

20 Treatises and Practice Guides Features ▫ Table of Contents ▫ Index ▫ Cases/Statutes/Regs Tables ▫ Practice Pointers ▫ Forms ▫ Checklists ▫ Supplements

21 Treatises & Practice Guides Ways to Find Them ▫ Law Firm or Hastings Catalog ▫ Ask Your Firm Librarian or Ask Us ▫ Check Westlaw/Lexis secondary sources or topical librariesWestlawLexis ▫ For California law, check CEB OnLAWCEB OnLAW

22 Treatises & Practice Guides Common Nicknames You May Encounter ▫ Red Book ▫ Weil & Brown ▫ Rutter ▫ CEB

23 Citators What is a Citator? ▫ A citator is a tool that helps you determine what has happened to your case, statute, or regulation since it was released or published. The two major online citators are: ▫ Shepard's (available on LexisNexis) ▫ Keycite (available on Westlaw).

24 Citators Why use a citator? ▫ To find prior and subsequent history of a case (statutes include amendment or pending legislation) ▫ To find negative treatment (your case has been overruled or your statute has been amended) ▫ To find positive treatment (another case agrees with the analysis in yours) ▫ To find primary and secondary sources on a particular narrow topic ▫ To find a parallel citation for a case

25 Citators Example: Raich v. Ashcroft, 352 F.3d 1222 (Lexis)Raich v. Ashcroft, 352 F.3d 1222 Westlaw

26 Tips for Using Citators Limit the number of cases you need to review by using headnotes Always read citing cases Use both citators – there is only 33% overlap in results!

27 Tip: Where Is It Being Litigated? Understand mandatory and persuasive authority: know your jurisdiction.

28 Mandatory v. Persuasive U.S. Supreme Court ▫ Mandatory on all courts on points of federal law Federal Courts of Appeals ▫ Mandatory on district courts and specialized lower courts in the same circuit, persuasive for courts in other federal circuits and state courts

29 Mandatory v. Persuasive U.S. District Court ▫ Mandatory on specialized lower courts in the same district State Courts ▫ Decisions of each state’s Supreme Court on that state’s law is mandatory on all lower courts; state appellate court decisions are mandatory on all lower courts

30 Published and Unpublished Citable at All Weight Check Local Rules California Has Its Own Special Rules

31 Origins Of Statutes, Regulations and Cases

32 Statutes Federal vs. State Session Laws vs. Code Session LawsCode Statutes vs. Regulations StatutesRegulations Official vs. Annotated Paper vs. Online

33 Tip: When Did the Event Occur? Be aware of the timing of the events you are researching. If the events took place in 2001, the law as it existed in 2001 is what you must find. That might not be the current law.

34 Statutes Access Points ▫ Index (print and online) ▫ Popular Name Tables (print and online) ▫ Tables of Contents (print and online) ▫ Find by Citation (print and online) ▫ Full text T&C search (online)

35 Statutes – Legislative History Federal ▫ Thomas ( ▫ Hastings Research Guide ▫ research/fedleghist.html research/fedleghist.html California ▫ LegInfo ( ▫ Hastings Research Guide ▫ research/calleghist.html

36 Regulations Relationship to Statutes ▫ Implement laws ▫ Authority  Federal Statute or Executive OrderExecutive Order  California - Constitutional Provision or Statute

37 Regulations - Publication Federal ▫ Federal Register ▫ Code of Federal Regulations ▫ California ▫ California Regulatory Notice Register ▫ Barclay’s Official California Code of Regulations / California Administrative Code

38 Regulations FDsys ( ( CA regulations ( Agency websites Lexis and Westlaw FR and CFR databases

39 Digests West’s Key Number System ▫ In Print  West’s California Digest On Westlaw ▫ Key Numbers ▫ Headnotes West’s Analysis of American Law

40 Ways to Use Digests Descriptive Word Index (print only) Browse the outline (print or online)online Start with one good case, use headnotesone good case Search for key numberskey numbers Use KeySearch to formulate a queryKeySearch

41 Power ▫ Results for FlowersFlowers ▫ Advanced Search Limit by domain or site Combine boolean operators Advanced Search ▫ Google Cache Cached page is a snapshot of the page when it was indexed. Google Cache ▫ Alerts Email updates of your searches Alerts ▫ Search History

42 Free Web Sites Learn to know when a website is authoritative ▫ Updated? ▫ Author contact? ▫ From a respected source? ▫ Even the government can let you down

43 Online Guides California Law on the Internet research/california-law.html Federal Law on the Internet research/fed-law.html research/fed-law.html


45 Dockets Free Court Case Docket Monitoring: Public Access to Court Records: Justia Dockets

46 Impress Your Partner CourtListener at This is a beta site that provides real time alerts to decisions issued by the US Circuit Courts of Appeal and the US Supreme Court.

47 Searching Techniques Learn How to Construct a Good Search Before You Go Online


49 must a drug manufacturer warn consumers of risks or side effects?

50 drugmanufacturerwarnconsumerrisk “side effect” (Terms)

51 must a drug manufacturer warn consumers of risks or side effects? drugmanufacturerwarnconsumerrisk “side effect” pharmaceutical disclose (Alternatives)

52 must a drug manufacturer warn consumers of risks or side effects? drugmanufacturerwarnconsumerrisk “side effect” pharmaceutical disclose manufact! warn! disclos! (drug or pharmaceutical) w/p manufact! w/p (warn! or disclos!) w/p consumer w/p (risk or “side effect”) (Connectors)

53 Call the Reference Attorneys at Lexis and Westlaw Westlaw: 1-800-REF-ATTY Lexis: 1-800-455-3947

54 ASK For help: The library is a risk-free zone for help

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