Legal Research Condensed Notes For Law School

Primary Authority (The Law)
Constitutions, Statutes, Cases

Secondary Authority (Commentary & Analysis)
Legal Encyclopedias (Used to get a broad overview)
ALR (Used to find Primary authority)
By topic, annotations (articles) with specific case references, jurisdiction?
Treatises (Used to get specific overview + citations)
Specific area, expert, jurisdiction?
Periodicals Emerging topics, recent cases, compiled research
Restatement Influential, no black letter law?
Law Review Emerging topics, creative ideas, opinions

Overview of a legal topic
Lead to primary sources
Generate search terms

Mandatory (binding) Authority
Only primary (if correct jurisdiction)

Persuasive authority
Secondary and primary (if incorrect jurisdiction)

Sloan’s 4 categories
Parties (legal relationships)
Places and Things
Potential Claims and Defenses
Relief sought

Statutes at Large
Chronological laws passed by Congress (historical)
Bill -> Slip law -> Session Law
U.S. Code
Current Federal laws arranged by topic
Bill -> Slip law -> Session Law -> Organized by topic

Annotated Code
Case summaries
Cross References (primary & secondary)

Index (Alphabetical by topic)
Table of Contents (Titles by topic) view related sections

Case Law
Reporters: Full text of cases
U.S. (US Supreme Court), F.2d (Federal Court of Appeals), F. Supp (Federal District Court), the other ones P.2d are state decisions.

Digests: Summaries of cases by subject
Indexing system (topic, alphabetical)
Useful for finding relevant cases by subject

Case Law Research FELFG
One Good Case Method
1. Find any case on the topic
2. Examine headnotes to find the most relevant topic key number
3. Lookup key number
4. Find relevant cases in Jurisdiction
5. Get full text

Citators (Shepardize (signal indicators) / Keycite (flags))
Can be limited to jurisdictions.

Authority still good law?
Find sources that cite an authority
Find judicial history of a case
Prior and subsequent

Full Text – Terms and Connectors
! – root expander (find alternate endings)
/p – within same paragraph
/s – within same sentence
/n – within n words

Natural Language Text Search
Helpful when Unfamiliar
If Terms and connectors not working

Subject (Indexes, TOC, One good case method) v. Full Text
Subject easier for concepts/topics (someone organized it)
Worse for cutting edge/words
Subject is better when not familiar with law

Full text can be very specific
Full text is better when familiar with law

Research Plan Improves efficiency and accuracy with organization

Issue statement, Potential search terms, Sources to search
When to stop? Comprehensive plan. Repetitive sources.