How to Get the Most Out of Your Legal Research

Legal support professionals perform a great deal of research as part of their daily routine. While researching a new area of law or topic can be time-consuming, often, research time can be streamlined to allow legal support staff to get more done in less time.

Here’s how to improve the efficiency of your legal research without losing effectiveness:

  1. Know the Case Before You Start Researching.

Valid, timely and relevant legal research depends on thoroughly understanding the basics of your case before you begin.

Create a cheat sheet that includes all relevant parties, the location, any items or objects involved, a brief timeline, the legal issues in the case as they relate to the events in the timeline, the most likely opposing arguments, and the relief sought in the case. This sheet will help you narrow down relevant authorities more quickly and focus on the issues that affect this client.

  1. Save Your Most Common Search Strings.

Whether you write them down, memorize them or take advantage of the save function on legal platforms like WestLaw, saving your most commonly-used search terms and strings can save you considerable time and energy. Take special note of search terms that proved particularly effective in targeting an issue or area of law.

  1. Always Read the Table of Contents and Synopsis.

It’s true the table of contents or synopsis won’t contain the precise language of a relevant holding or statute. However, skimming these two sections of a case or reference tome can help you determine quickly whether the item is likely to contain information that will be of help to your client.

  1. Stay in Research Mode Until You Submit the Assignment.

Double-check the relevance of the case law you’ve used. Set up computerized alerts so you hear about new cases as they appear. Run one last search before you turn in the assignment in order to be certain that no new relevant case has popped up while you were performing your final edit.

Work With Kent Legal

The recruiters at Kent Legal work closely with law firms and legal departments in the greater Toronto area. For help finding your next position as a legal support professional, contact us today.

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