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Cornell University

Overview of Legal Research: HOME

PURPOSE

This LibGuide was created for non-lawyers.  However, lawyers, paralegals, and anyone with an interest in law may find the information on primary and secondary sources as well as an explanation of how to format legal citations of interest.

1. DEFINE tHE TASK

Are you searching for the answer to a legal question?  Are you looking for a survey of the law for a particular topic?  For what jurisdiction(s) will you conduct research? 

2. SELECT THE RESOURCE(S)

Seek authoritative and current sources.   Decide whether you will use subscription databases or open access databases.

What are the key words that describe your legal topic?  Are there terms of art?  Are there synonyms? 

Secondary sources which discuss the law may lead you to primary sources such as statutes, case law, and administrative materials

 

3. ANALYZE YOUR FINDINGS

Read the information you have gathered.  Evaluate whether the information you have gathered answers your research question.  As you review sources and answer your research question(s), be sure to cite your sources.

4. UPDATE YOUR RESEARCH

Use citators (such as KeyCite in Westlaw and Shepard’s in Lexis) and search again within your chosen databases to see if new materials have been added.  Set up search alerts. 

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Nina Scholtz
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