Presentation on theme: "Foreign & Intern’l Legal Research Seminar (Law 623A) Roy L. Sturgeon, J.D., M.L.S., LL.M. (Chinese Law) Foreign & International Law Librarian, Library."— Presentation transcript:
Foreign & Intern’l Legal Research Seminar (Law 623A) Roy L. Sturgeon, J.D., M.L.S., LL.M. (Chinese Law) Foreign & International Law Librarian, Library Liaison to the Public Advocacy Center, & Library Faculty January 22, 2009, 3:30-4:30pm, Rm. L308
Topics to be Discussed Today My philosophy of legal research: “Why Legal Research is the Most Important Skill You Can Learn in Law School (& How It Will Make You Sexier!)” Basic research rules *** Please feel free to ask me questions anytime. Raise your hand. I will not be offended. ☺
My Philosophy of Legal Research Serious business & hard work Requires intellectual curiosity, critical thinking, common sense, & patience Like many other skills, it can be learned & mastered with practice. Always believe in yourself!
My Philosophy (continued) Do not think of legal research as a chore or something that is beneath your professional status Instead, think of it as an opportunity to learn & discover &, most importantly, to empower yourself “Knowledge is power.” (More on this later)
My Philosophy (cont.) We live in an “information society” or “information age” Become information literate & proficient—or else you will be left behind Merely using information technology (print or electronic) is not the same as information literacy & proficiency
My Philosophy (cont.) Even in the USA, which has a long tradition of sophisticated & abundant legal research tools, the teaching of legal research lacks the prestige of so- called “doctrinal” law subjects This situation is most unfortunate. Big law firms are starting to complain. And law schools & bar examiners are starting to listen
My Philosophy (cont.) Legal research is the most important skill because it is the foundation upon which the rest of your legal work is built. It empowers you to find the doctrinal & other sources you will use to educate yourself as a practitioner If your foundation is weak, then whatever you build on it will collapse So strive ceaselessly to make your legal research foundation solid & firm You owe it to your clients, profession, & self *** Legal work is not an exercise in creative fiction!
How It Will Make You Sexier! Effective legal research is empowering For many persons (♀, ♂), power is an aphrodisiac ♥ Still not convinced? Then I dare you to prove me wrong ☺
Basic Research Rules 1. Plan! 2. Think time, money, & resources 3. When in doubt, get context 4. Find someone who has already done the work for you 5. Know when to stop!
Basic Research Rules (cont.) 1. Plan! Saves yourself time & money Write your plan on paper (or at least think it through in your mind) before you start Gives you some idea of where you are going. It is OK to change your plan later 2. Think time, money, & resources Be mindful of how much resources cost Learn which resources are available so you can exploit them
Basic Research Rules (cont.) 3. When in doubt, get context Get as much background as possible Use secondary sources (“context tools”) 4. Find someone who has already done the work for you Bibliographies & research guides Organizations that care about your issue Never re-do what has already been done
Basic Research Rules (cont.) 5. Know when to stop! When you run out of time When you start to circle around Sometimes there is no definitive answer or magic case/statute (“revel in the ambiguity!”) Have confidence in your research skills
Also, Remember These Things Physical books are not obsolete because of the internet. Not everything worth reading (& citing) is available online The internet is great, but relatively few authoritative & substantive materials are available online for free Quality control is spotty at best on the free or open internet Before searching online for e-books & journals, assume your library owns in print every book & journal ever published until you verify on the library’s Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC) that it does not
In Conclusion Effective attorneys are effective legal researchers Think of legal research as a way of empowering yourself. The better you are at researching, the more empowered you become Don’t ever be afraid of asking a librarian--at Touro or elsewhere--for help. Most will be glad to help you because they view it as central to what librarians do
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