This guide explains how to conduct research for a legal externship or internship.

Are you stuck on a research project? Reach out to a librarian at lawref@cornell.edu to discuss all aspects of the research process. 

Search Terms

To begin to research, you need a list of search terms. Here are three ways to come up with search terms:

  • Brainstorm by jotting down as many synonyms and related words as you can because different resources use different terminology to refer to the same topic. For example, "children" could be listed under "infants," "minors," or "parent and child."
  • Use a dictionary, especially a legal dictionary or legal encyclopedia (see Starting with a Secondary Source below) 
  • Ask a librarian or other person familiar with the topic for suggestions.

Starting With a Secondary Source

When you begin a research project for a work experience, it's a good idea to do some background reading. On Lexis or Westlaw, select the secondary sources button from the homepage to locate legal encyclopedias, state specific treatises, or topic specific publications. Not finding content on your topic on Lexis or Westlaw? Consult our law databases A to Z list and see if we have a specialized database on your topic. 

Subject Guide

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