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A203: In Good Legal Standing: Legal Research for the Non-Legal Professional Steve Anderson Gordon Feinblatt Rothman Hoffberger & Hollander, LLC

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Presentation on theme: "A203: In Good Legal Standing: Legal Research for the Non-Legal Professional Steve Anderson Gordon Feinblatt Rothman Hoffberger & Hollander, LLC"— Presentation transcript:

1 A203: In Good Legal Standing: Legal Research for the Non-Legal Professional Steve Anderson Gordon Feinblatt Rothman Hoffberger & Hollander, LLC

2 2 Themes for Non-Legal Professionals 1. Contextual Nature of Legal Research 2. Sources of Legal Information

3 Contextual Nature of Legal Research “Compartmentalize” your approach by considering the following: –Jurisdictions –Branches of government –Primary or secondary authorities Your search likely will include more than one of the above categories!!!

4 Contextual Nature of Legal Research Tips to remember: –MANY jurisdictions (Federal, state, local, quasi-legal?, international?) –3 branches of government in the U.S. Legislative (statutes, codes, acts, bills, etc.) Judicial (opinions, decisions, case law, pleadings, complaints, etc.) Executive (final & proposed regulations, orders, etc.) –Primary sources=“The Law”; secondary sources are merely “about” laws

5 Contextual Nature of Legal Research Legal Research Matrix of Gov’t. Sources FederalStateLocal LegislativeU.S. Congress General Assembly, etc. City/ County Council JudicialU.S. Sup. Ct., Cts. Of Appeal, U.S. District Cts. State Supreme (Appellate) Cts. Mostly N/A ExecutiveFederal Agencies State Agencies Mostly N/A

6 Contextual Nature of Legal Research Legal Research Matrix of Information Sources FederalStateLocal LegislativeU.S. CodeState Code/ Statutes City/ County Code JudicialFederal Reporters, etc. State Reports/ Nat’l Reporters Mostly N/A ExecutiveCode of Fed. Reg., F.R. State Regs. Mostly N/A

7 Contextual Nature of Legal Research Secondary sources are useful when: –You are doing A LOT of research –You know little about your topic –When you need to be guided to case law (which is not codified by subject like statutes and regulations) Examples include: –Treatises, law reviews & newsletters, legal encyclopedias, case law digests

8 Sources of Legal Information Legal information is not always on the web for free Variables include: –Date (only recent material might be available) –Ease of use (poor navigation, search design) –Reputable sources (use only gov’t, educational and established publishers’ websites!!!) –Most of this is only on the INVISIBLE WEB!!!

9 Sources of Legal Information Checklist for free primary legal web sources FederalStateLocal Legislative Judicial Executive

10 Sources of Legal Information Notes to chart: –The U.S. Code is comparatively difficult to update (but THOMAS is king!) –U.S. District Court opinions are HARD to find (Supreme Court & Cts. Of Appeal are OK) –Most states have excellent legislative sources, decent regulatory materials, and case law from at least the past 5 years or so –Look for municipal codes at:

11 Sources of Legal Information Helpful legal portals to get you to individual PRIMARY sources: –ALSO: –LexisOne: (register!)http://www.lexisone.com/ –Findlaw: –U.S. Courts: –Cornell’s Legal Information Institute:

12 Sources of Legal Information Few SECONDARY sources are online for free. Sources include very recent law review and legal newsletter articles and law firm client memos. Try to locate these via: –Findlaw: –Or JURIST:

13 Sources of Legal Information After tapping free sources using the above methods try: –Westlaw –Lexis –GOOGLE! (especially if you’re “feeling lucky!”) Happy Searching!


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