Home > Fee-based Electronic Resources, Free Electronic Resources, Legal Research, Social Media > Everybody Researches….But Not Everybody Researches Well

Everybody Researches….But Not Everybody Researches Well

It may only be March, but summer jobs are just around the corner.  Are you ready?  While you may have the job, the three new suits and your smart phone at hand, that is not all you need.  How confident are you about your legal research skills?

In a white paper titled “Research Skills for Lawyers and Law Students”  Thomson-West (now Thomson-Reuters, “parents” of Westlaw) shared the results of numerous roundtables with law firm and academic librarians, and the resulting forum in response to the conclusions regarding legal research and writing.  In response to the question “What are the most important research tasks (online or in print that entry level attorneys must know?” the overwhelming top response was “cost effective research.”   When asked “[w]hat research tasks should usually be conducted in books vs. online?” “secondary source research” was the clear first recommendation.

In addition to the research skills that you will need to know, there are electronic resources other than Westlaw and Lexis that many law offices are using.  Some offices subscribe to Loislaw while others, particularly small firms, may rely extensively on services provided by state bars such as Casemaker or Fastcase.  If all this seems a bit overwhelming, you might want to hone your research abilities by attending “Boot Camp for Your Legal Research Skills.”  This program, offered March 29, from 4:00 -7:00 p.m.,  is intended to make you a lean, mean, researching machine.  It covers how to start your research project, tips for keeping billable hours, how to research cost effectively, and will provide you with a chance to hear from and question two students who have been employed in various jobs requiring legal research.  The program will conclude with the opportunity to visit a number of different “stations” where you will be able to view practice materials, databases, and apps that can help you conquer the most rebellious research assignment.  To keep your strength up, food and drink will be served.

Least you think that we are trying to blackmail you into attending our program (alas, I was outvoted), there are ways that you can firm-up flabby research skills even if you cannot attend the “boot camp for your brain.”  First, take advantage of the “prepare to practice” type classes offered by database vendors.  Their classes will focus heavily on practice materials, and on how to do cost effective research.  You should aim at taking these classes soon, before exams absorb your mind and the reps go back to headquarters for the summer.   Second, even after exam you can take a little time to familiarize yourself with the research materials in the areas of law that your firm focuses upon.  Even if it is too late to take a class in corporations, it is not to late to skim the Nutshell.  Also, make an appointment with one of our librarians.  Whether you are seeking to learn more about a topic area, or about the resources in a particular state, we will be able to help you filter the vast quantity of materials out there and select the best.  And third,  do not forget that the best research can be rendered ineffective by poor writing.  Make sure that you always keep the words “clear and concise” in mind when submitting your research results.  Good luck and good research.

Advertisements
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: