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LRAC Legal Research Class Site

What is Legal Research?

Legal Research?

Legal research is the process of finding the relevant law and persuasive materials needed to analyze legal issues and advocate for clients.

Efficient Legal Research?

Legal research is efficient when the relevant material is found in the least possible time at the lowest possible cost.

Legal Research Process?

The legal research process is the series of steps taken to conduct efficient legal research.

Legal Research Process Example

It is a good idea to follow a legal research process so you will not miss any legal research steps.

Click to see a useful flowchart of the process of legal research from the Loyola University law library website.

Keeping Track of Your Research - Research Plan

It is always a good idea to follow a written research plan and chart and record your research results as you go.

Why? If you record your research steps and results:

  1. You won't forget what you already did and then have to waste time repeating steps
  2. You will be less likely to miss relevant information
  3. You can easily evaluate what you have left to do
  4. If you can't find what you're looking for, you can look at your plan and develop a new strategy

Example Research Results Plan and Chart

Click here for a Microsoft Word file.

Finishing Your Research

At some point you must FINISH your research and start writing something or advising your client.

How to Tell When You are Finished

  • You followed a research process and completed all the steps on your written research plan 
  • You keep finding the same information over and over again as you go through the steps of your written research plan
  • The information you found seems to answer your question
  • You have bounced your research strategy and conclusions off other people

How to Never Be Sure That You Haven't Missed Something Important

  • By not having a research process which guides your search strategy
  • By not using a written research plan to guide your research and record your results
  • By failing to use finding aids such as indexes, tables of contents, and Key Numbers
  • Lacking familiarity with a variety of secondary sources
  • Overly relying on natural language (Google-like) searching
  • Failing to effectively use terms and connectors searching
  • Failing to take the time to READ AND UNDERSTAND the information that you find