Legal Research Class Notes 9/25/03


The exam is on Monday morning at 9 AM in Room 352.


We’ll go over the exam more tomorrow.


There will be 26 questions that will comprise 60% of the grade.  40% of the grade is the essay.  You have about 20 minutes to write the essay and 40 minutes to do the questions.  Actually, it’s more like 24 minutes for the essay and 36 minutes for the short answer questions.


Don’t use The Cheat on any of your law school exams.


We’ll finish the Bluebook exercise, do a “synthesis” of the class, and then go over some fact patterns that may be useful for the test.


Outline of the course


I.                   Primary Sources (the law itself)

a.      Statutes from the legislative branch (Codes)

                                                              i.      Federal

1.     U.S. Code

2.     USCA and USCS

3.     Court structure

a.      District Courts

b.     Appellate Courts

c.     Supreme Court

                                                            ii.      State

1.     Ohio Revised Code

2.     Annotated Codes

3.     Court structure

a.      Supreme Court (can be called other things)

b.     Intermediate appellate courts

c.     Trial courts

b.     Case law from the judicial branch (Reporters)

                                                              i.      Federal

1.     Federal Reporter

2.     Federal Supplement

                                                            ii.      State

1.     State reporters

2.     Regional reporters

c.     Regulations from the executive branch (Administrative codes)

II.                Secondary Sources (writings about the law)

a.      Legal encyclopedias

b.     Journals and other legal periodicals

c.     Treatises

d.     ALR (annotated reporters)

e.      Restatements of the Law

f.       Uniform laws

III.             Finding Tools (help you find primary and secondary sources)

a.      In print

                                                              i.      Digests

                                                            ii.      Indices

b.     Electronic format

                                                              i.      Full text systems with wide coverage

1.     Lexis

2.     Westlaw

3.     Liabilities

a.      Don’t go back that far

b.     Limited breadth

c.     Expensive

                                                            ii.      Sites on the WWW

1.     All states and federal government have individual websites

2.     Government materials are in the public domain

a.      Can be printed by anyone

b.     Be careful!  People can mess around with government documents

IV.            Updating the law – Do not rely on old cases, statutes, or regulations




I.                   Analysis

a.      What facts do you have?

b.     What issues can you spot?

c.     What jurisdiction are you in?

d.     How much time is available?

II.                Overview

a.      Look at secondary sources to get a general idea of the field you’re researching

b.     You can skip this if you’re already an expert

III.             Find and read the law

a.      Statutes first because they are annotated, then regulations second and case law thir

b.     Go back to secondary sources to clarify issues you don’t understand

IV.            Update – use Shepard’s, KeyCite, pocket parts, the Federal Register etc.

V.               When to stop

a.      When you have found the answer and have done extra research to answer additional corollary questions

b.     When you have looked everywhere important

c.     When the cost exceeds the benefit

d.     When you begin to get citations to the same stuff


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