How to do Legal Research in Law School

What are we going to cover?

Introduce you to an important skill for law students and lawyers.

How are we going to cover it?

Walk through the standard legal research process.

Why is it important to me as an incoming 1L?

You’ll have a class dedicated to legal research during the year, and learning legal research is part of the process of becoming a lawyer.

Question: What is “Legal Research?”

Answer: Legal research is the process of identifying and retrieving information necessary to support legal decision-making.

Question: So why do it?

Answer: Support legal decision-making:

  • COMPLEX legal issues
  • Applied to SPECIFIC facts
  • Requiring COMPLETE answers
  • For clients that PAY for your expertise
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The Legal Research Process is based upon The Legal Research Pyramid


Starting on the Open Web such as Google and/or bing. This is a good place to start but:

  • Not specific enough
  • Rarely authoritative (can’t cite to Google in court)
  • Credibility of sources is always a question
  • Expand All
  • Collapse All
  • Step #1:Legal Research Process  
  • Step #2:Legal Research Process  
  • Step #3: Legal Research Process  
  • Step #4: Rinse & Repeat?  
  • Start with Secondary Sources
  • Support with Primary Sources
  • Shepardize
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