In the first step of legal research, you gather primary sources, often the most reliable sources on a given topic. On the other hand, secondary sources may or may not be reliable. Whether or not they are may depend on the situation and how much you know about the subject. You might need to look at more than one source. You could start with a general source like an encyclopedia and then move on to more specific sources. In Chapter 6, you'll find a full list of the different types of secondary sources.
Secondary sources are good for quickly understanding a topic or area of law. Legal encyclopedias, treatises, and law journals are great places to start when you don't know much about a subject. You can also start with legal encyclopedias and other sources that are not legal. Of course, you can always use more materials if needed, but the primary sources will give you a good overview of the law.
Once you have an idea of what your legal research is about in general, you can move on to finding primary sources. The best way to do this is to look at the text of standard textbooks, reference books, legal magazines, authoritative comments, and public web pages. Then, you should find relevant past studies, read them, and analyze them to look for gaps or problems with how the primary sources are thought of. Finally, if there is too much information about a certain area of law, you should look at a secondary source on that topic.
The next step in legal research is to figure out what you don't know. This is where you'll find the gaps in your knowledge and the resources for that topic. Note any keywords, big ideas, and background information. You can also take note of the missing general information. Lastly, you can fill in the blanks using primary and secondary sources. You might be able to find the answer to your question in a source that isn't on this list.
Treatises and laws are examples of secondary sources. These books go into a lot of detail about a legal topic and give references to primary sources. Most of the time, these sources are written by lawyers specializing in a certain jurisdiction. Some treatises may have a lot of weight, but others don't. Use a research guide made for your subject to find the most reliable title. You can also look in encyclopedias about the law. Again, these specialized books can help you learn more about a subject.
As part of the first research step, the researcher must state the problem. This statement might not be legally binding but will limit the research. The issue statement could also be a structure of ideas, like a chain of command. This is an important part of researching the law. Legal research is very important if you want to change the law. In the law, there are many ways to solve a problem.
As you do more research on the law, you may need to use traditional searches in legal databases. You can change the results in these situations by using search filters and Boolean searching. However, you may run into new issues and terms, so it's important to take the time to evaluate your research methods, problem statement, and results. Also, a legal research tool like Fastcase should be used to speed up the research process.
Theories. Theories help you determine what is going on and how the world works. The theory explains what happens and why. It is also based on a logical analysis of the most important legal theories. The theoretical framework is where new information starts. Then you'll put the theory to use in solving the problem. There are five steps to researching the law:
First-level authorities. Citators let researchers use other primary sources to trace a legal issue back in time. They can also look at the headnotes of cited opinions to find more primary sources. These can help with analysis, but they take a long time. In the end, though, they only serve as a framework for the final piece of writing. The five steps of legal research do not cancel each other out. But if you want to do legal research for a specific case, you might need them.