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Presentation on theme: "RESEARCH STRATEGY & SECONDARY SOURCES Amy Wright, JD, MLIS Zief Law Library, Fall 2007."— Presentation transcript:

1 RESEARCH STRATEGY & SECONDARY SOURCES Amy Wright, JD, MLIS Zief Law Library, Fall 2007

2 Common Reaction to First Days on the Job Hunkering Down in Your Workspace: *”The Bunker” idea originally came from a July 2006 presentation by Terry Psarras, “Teaching CALR to Law Students,” at AALL’s 2006 Annual Meeting.

3 COMMON “NEWBIE” MISTAKES Jumping on Lexis or Westlaw when you have no good leads for relevant cases, statutes, or regulations. Ignoring secondary sources. Focusing too heavily on case law and ignoring statutes and regulations. Not asking questions when you’re stuck!

4 RESEARCH STRATEGY GATHER & ANALYZE THE FACTS: Who’s involved? What are the parties’ relationships to each other? What facts do I already know? What facts are missing that I need to know?

5 RESEARCH STRATEGY WHAT TYPE OF ANSWER IS REQUIRED? E-mail, conference call, verbal answer, research memo, or client letter? Short summary or exhaustive treatment? Answer given to client or to assigning attorney?

6 RESEARCH STRATEGY DEFINE YOUR RESEARCH QUESTIONS: Federal, state, or local law? Tort? Contract? Regulatory or statutory issue? What’s the client’s desired result? What terms of art or industry lingo do I need to know to define my research questions? Begin creating a list of search terms.

7 RESEARCH STRATEGY GET UP TO SPEED: Review secondary sources. Talk the issues out: Brainstorm with someone else who knows the area well.

8 RESEARCH STRATEGY RESIST THE URGE TO JUMP RIGHT IN! Don’t waste time getting lost on Lexis & Westlaw! Consult secondary sources first…. Find leading cases, statutes, and regs….. …..then use Lexis & Westlaw.

9 RESEARCH STRATEGY CONSULT FREE INTERNET SOURCES – SPARINGLY. Search for 15-30 minutes – if you’re not finding anything useful, try new resource. Use the Internet to find a good research guide on your topic written by a law librarian or a law professor. Check the date on the guide to make sure it’s relatively recent. Sample search: – Immigration law “research guide”

10 RESEARCH STRATEGY NOW….WRITE DOWN A RESEARCH PLAN Budget your time: figure out how much time you can spend on each question. List the resources that you plan to consult for each research question and relevant search terms. If you use Lexis & Westlaw, call the reference attorney hotline and ask them for help with search creation. Open 24/7.

11 RESEARCH STRATEGY UPDATE YOUR RESEARCH Are the cases, statutes, & regulations that you found during research still good law? Use electronic citators such as KeyCite and Shepard’s, even if your client won’t pay for electronic research. Print citators are not sufficiently up-to-date! Shepardize secondary sources, too!

12 RESEARCH STRATEGY Lexis and Westlaw both offer “Alert” services: emails Shepard’s & KeyCite updates for your sources; runs your searches regularly for you. Use these services to find: – New primary & secondary authority; and – Make sure what you’ve already found remains good law.

13 RESEARCH STRATEGY AM I DONE? Are you running into same info? – probably done. Read the most recent article or case on your topic – if you’re familiar with all of the relevant legal issues & cited authority, that’s a good sign.


15 SECONDARY SOURCES Reason #1: DON’T REINVENT THE WHEEL. Good secondary sources jumpstart your research by giving you citations to major cases, statutes, and regulations about your topic so you don’t have to find these citations yourself in multiple locations. Also…will explain & analyze the law for you.

16 SECONDARY SOURCES Reason #2: LEARN THE JARGON. Every practice area uses special “terms of art,” acronyms, and lingo. Secondary sources define these terms for you.


18 HOW TO FIND SECONDARY SOURCES Ask a law librarian or your supervisor for recommendations. Browse the Westlaw Directory and the Lexis “Find a Source” tab. Check out a law library research guide. Review Zimmerman’s Research Guide online for tips:

19 NEW SOURCES FROM ZIEF Laurie Levenson’s California Criminal Law and California Criminal Procedure. John Sink’s California Subpoena Handbook. Gregory Caskey’s California Search and Seizure. (all available on Westlaw)

20 COMMONLY-USED SOURCES DON’T FORGET THESE SOURCES FROM FIRST- YEAR! AmJur & CalJur are great legal encyclopedias: – Perfect for quick overview & citations to statutes and case law.

21 COMMONLY-USED SOURCES ALSO…. Witkin’s treatises on California law: – Summary of CA Law; – California Evidence; – California Procedure; and – California Criminal Law

22 COMMONLY-USED SOURCES Words and Phrases – Supplies a summary of federal and state cases that contain the definitions of certain words and phrases. – EXAMPLE: can help you find cases that define legal terms like “conspiracy” or “constructive eviction.”

23 COMMONLY USED SOURCES American Law Reports – Essays that discuss selected state or federal legal topics in detail – Includes West Key Numbers and citations to law review articles, practice guides, form books, and more. – Case & statute summaries cover all 50 states and federal law as well.

24 PRACTICE GUIDES Practice Guides: – Strive to provide a practical but thorough discussion of the law, along with practice tips and citations to relevant primary authority. – Some have sample forms and agreements along with commentary. – Some focus just on supplying commentary or providing forms.

25 FINDING PRACTICE GUIDES Popular Publishers of Practice Guides: – Matthew Bender; – Rutter Group; – CEB (CA Continuing Education of the Bar). Zief Handout has recommendations for most practice areas.

26 FORM BOOKS Use a form book when you need ideas on how to draft any legal document. Exist for both transactional and litigation practices. CAUTION: It’s very rare that you can use a form straight from the book without tweaking it! Each form has to be adapted to your facts and your client.

27 FINDING FORM BOOKS California Forms of Pleading and Practice most popular resource (Bender; on Lexis). Also look for West publications like: – West’s Legal Forms; – West’s Federal Forms; – West’s California Code Forms; – AmJur Legal Forms 2d.

28 LITIGATION DOCUMENTS ON WESTLAW & LEXIS Westlaw has a growing collection of trial documents from both federal and state courts. Go to Westlaw Directory  Litigation Use with caution – – May be great, but… – some may be very poorly drafted.


30 ….AND ON LEXIS Lexis offers “Total Litigator” Task-oriented library that includes collections of drafting resources, including actual court filings.



33 COURT FORMS Each jurisdiction has its own required forms for various filings. Check the California courts web page for forms ( as well as your individual court website. – Most up-to-date source for forms. LLRX website has a handy online search engine for state & federal court forms, rules, and dockets:


35 COURT FORMS – allows you to find websites of all of the federal courts throughout US. – Go to the individual federal court’s website to find relevant forms.


37 Northern District of California’s Forms Page

38 JURY INSTRUCTIONS Most states, including CA, develop standardized jury instructions for use in both civil and criminal trials. In California, the Book of Approved Jury Instructions (BAJI), was the first publication. Now replaced by the Judicial Council’s new “plain English” instructions, known as CACI and CALCRIM.

39 JURY INSTRUCTIONS Can still use BAJI instructions, if accepted by court. California civil & criminal jury instructions on California courts website: Check individual federal court websites (links on for jury instruction

40 California Civil Jury Instructions Page

41 COURT RULES Not a secondary source – court rules are the laws that govern how courts function, so they are a primary source. Annotated versions are most useful: include summaries of cases interpreting the rules.

42 CALIFORNIA COURT RULES Find them on California’s official court website: Includes both California-wide rules and links to local courts’ individual rules. Annotated versions available in Deering’s annotated statutes under “Rules of Court” & West’s annotated set under “Court Rules.”

43 California Court Rules Page

44 FEDERAL COURT RULES Categories include: – Federal Rules of Civil Procedure – Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure – Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure (governs civil and criminal) – Federal Rules of Evidence – Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure – Individual courts’ rules. Text available on:


46 FEDERAL COURT RULES Also available in annotated versions in print in both the USCA and the USCS. Use citator services (Shepard’s & KeyCite) to determine current status and judicial treatment of federal & state court rules.

47 Lexis & Westlaw Password Use Lexis Account Use – Students in any judicial externship/clinical internship who are receiving course credit may use Lexis student account.

48 Lexis & Westlaw Password Use Westlaw Account Use: – OK to use in unpaid clinical internships (incl. those taken for course credit) so long as they’re not with federal, state, or local government or courts; and – OK to use for pro bono and public service activities required for graduation.

49 GOOD LUCK! Remember….you’re welcome to call Zief librarians for research help during any type of internship (and after you graduate, too)! Contact Info: – Reference Desk: 415-422-6773 – Website:


51 LOOSELEAF SERVICES Great single source for commentary, cases, statutes, regulations, and agency decisions. Common publishers: CCH, BNA, RIA Can be tricky to use for novices – best to start with a simpler secondary source, then move to a looseleaf once you have some foundational knowledge.

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