There are many different approaches to doing legal research and there is no hard and fast rule or any mandatory method of doing research. However for the not so experienced the following legal research methodology steps will prove to be a helpful guide.
- Start with a preliminary analysis of facts and start framing questions
- Consult secondary sources
- Evaluation of the research
- Locating the primary authority
- Re-evaluation of the research
- Updating the research
- Stopping the research
- Follow Black letter law rules
During the preliminary analysis, one should identify all the facts and details of the people, place, and acts involved besides familiarizing oneself with all the related jargon and understanding of all issues that can be got via research. It also involves identifying legal theories, procedures and knowing about the relief that is being sought. Various secondary sources will have to be referred to including treatises, law reviews and encyclopedias.
While evaluating the legal research one must identify the right legal theories and see if these need to be modified or if new theories have been found that requiring more research. Most importantly one must see as to what is the core legal theory that is being developed. Locating of primary authorities including court opinions/statutes and regulatory law etc can be done using different online and offline secondary sources including various digests and Looseleaf. This is again followed by re-evaluation and legal research / updation and must be repeated till you are done. One of the important things while doing legal research is to always keep in mind the basic black letter rules.
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