Legal research can be defined as the process of identifying and retrieving information necessary to support legal decision-making. In its widest sense, legal research includes each step of a course of action that begins with an analysis of the facts of a problem and concludes with the application and communication of the results of the investigation. The main aim of providing effective legal research services is to look for appropriate laws that are mandatory for the individuals, the government and the courts. Court orders and decisions, statutes and regulations are good examples of the same. These laws are usually made courts and administrative agencies. The resources that can be used for doing legal research are many but complicated. To make effective use of the resources that are available for providing legal research services, classes are being conducted.
Researchers refer to legal encyclopedias, American Law Journals and treaties to look for the applicable laws prevalent in a given situation. Legal encyclopedias and law journals provide an insight to the applicable laws and also carry detailed articles related to the subject. To perform a good research, one needs to make use of the same words as used in statutes. For example, while searching for the applicable product liability case, one needs to use the words like product liability so as to find the appropriate statutes and court orders. Another good option to use while doing research can be to go through the contents of the statutes so as to figure out which relevant statute is applicable.
Legal research can be performed by anyone who is in need for legal information. People who are continuously in need of legal research services includes lawyers, law librarians, and paralegals. Some of the relevant sources from where legal information can be obtained are books, free legal research websites (like Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute, FindLaw.com, Martindale) and paid sites like LexisNexis, Westlaw, and Bloomberg Law. Law libraries across the globe provide research services to help their customers find the legal information they need. Although many jurisdictions publish laws online, case law is often accessed through specialty online databases.
Legal research is a difficult and a time consuming task. To overcome this difficulty, many individual attorneys and small law firms outsource such tasks to offshore legal support services provider who are proficient in undertaking such jobs. Outsourcing also helps in reducing costs as the price charged by offshore services provider is comparatively less when compared to the cost of getting the same job done in-house. Also there is a strong possibility that individual attorneys and small law firms do not have the requisite resource to do the job in-house. Under such circumstances, outsourcing steps in as the most effective solution.
Legal research is known to take much time and effort, and access to online legal research databases such as LexisNexis and Westlaw can be costly. Consequently, law firms and other practitioners may turn to third-party legal research providers to outsource their legal research needs. Outsourcing can help small law firms to represent a client in an area which does not fall under their expertise. Also such services can also help in carrying out a legal research project more efficiently as it saves the time and cost of engaging an additional resource for the jobs that can easily be outsourced.
However, one should not forget that there is no effective way to measure whether the research has been performed efficiently or in a competent way. Researchers use different means to reach the same conclusion of the problem or situation being researched for. Outsourcing legal services is very common as solo practitioners and small law firms consider it as an effective means to get the job done in an effective manner at a comparatively low cost. Outsourcing legal research projects reduces the cost considerably when compared to getting the same job being done in-house as there is a possibility that not all practicing lawyers and law firms maintain a resource who is competent to do effective research. A small firm might not regularly employ the lawyers and legal assistants required to handle a research project effectively and efficiently.
There is no unique blueprint for doing legal research. It depends on individual capabilities and one’s ability to understand the issue at hand. Different lawyers may perform the same tasks through different means, all with the necessary legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation, however the result shall always be the same as laws do not change for those who undertake research projects in-house or for those who are based in remote locations and undertake such projects. The rule does not require that tasks be accomplished in any special way. The rule requires only that the lawyer who is responsible to the client satisfies the obligation to render legal research services competently.
The offshore service providers make sure that all the jobs undertaken are performed in compliance with Rules of Professional Conduct and also ensuring that their working is well-matched with the skilled duties of the attorneys who chose to outsource such jobs. To summarize, the project is not complete till the time the client has been provided with a well drafted document that has been prepared using the required skills, expert knowledge and an appropriate conclusion for the issue at stake.