Legal research n writing is the heart of legal profession. The purpose of legal research is to find legal documents that will aid in finding a solution to a legal problem. Legal Research can be defined as the process of finding an answer to a legal query or looking for a legal example that can be used in a trial. In fact, every law suit, appeal and legal process requires some kind of research.
When a legal research project is undertaken, the researcher needs to search for relevant statutes, case laws, and secondary authority before deciding how to move ahead. As the law is precedent based, similar pattern case law provides an insight to the researcher on how the things can take shape in the court thus making legal research a must for all trials and appeals. The U.S. legal system is based on precedent — that is, decided court cases — in conjunction with statutes and common law. Therefore, the function of legal research typically is to find out how previous courts have decided cases with similar fact patterns. Most legal research is now performed online.
Legal research can be defined as the process of identifying and retrieving information necessary to support legal decision-making. In a broader 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. However, The processes of legal research vary according to the country and the legal system involved.
The process of legal research n writing can be undertaken by an attorney, a paralegal or anyone who is looking to sort out a certain legal issue. Most of the time researchers take the help of law books,law journals or free legal websites to look for the legal information they need.Many law libraries and institutions provide free access to legal information on the web. The attorney (or a paralegal under their supervision) may review statutes, case law, and secondary authority before deciding how to proceed with your case. Since the law is based on precedent, case law with a similar fact pattern can give your attorney an idea of how things may play out in court. Similarly, a corporate lawyer may conduct legal research in order to determine whether a proposed new policy would expose the company to liability. This may include research into building codes, employment laws, or federal environmental regulations.
Finding tools enable a researcher to find and interpret legal authority. Initially, many researchers turn to tools that provide summaries of a particular area of the law. Some examples are legal encyclopedias, treatises, and the American Law Reports (ALR). Law reviews and legal periodical articles provide interpretation of the law as well as detailed articles on particular legal topics. These interpretations may be found through indexes such as the Index to Legal Periodicals. Restatements provide detailed summaries of what the law generally is or what the restatement writers believe the law should be.
The legal research n writing process is very time consuming and if done in-house can prove expensive. Hence many law firms ans solo practitioners prefer to outsource legal research jobs to offshore third party vendors who support a team of experienced lawyers well versed in doing legal research online. Outsourcing helps in saving time and reducing the cost. Also,there is a possibility that the attorney or the law firm does not support an additional resource proficient in performing research work, hence outsourcing is the best way to get the job done in an efficient manner. Secondary sources are a great place to begin the research. Although the primary sources of law and case law, statutes, and regulations–establish the law on a given topic, it is often difficult to quickly locate answers in them. Secondary sources often explain legal principles more thoroughly than a single case or statute, so using them can help you save time. Secondary sources also help you avoid unnecessary research.
There is no guide or rules as to do a legal research job. Different people may adopt different methods for doing the same job, however the conclusion is always the same. 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 her obligation to render legal services competently. Being able to research in an effective manner is an essential skill whether you are a student or in practice. The primary aim of conducting clear and methodical legal research is finding the answer to a legal question in the most time effective way and knowing that you have searched in all the relevant sources. Being able to show that you have good legal research skills can help in securing training contracts in law firms or funding for study or research projects. In legal practice it can also help to show any client that your work is accurate and that it is value for money.