Before you begin researching, stop and think. Read the assignment carefully, and develop a plan. Ask yourself:
Answering these questions will help you develop a research plan. Taking the time to develop a thoughtful research plan up front will save you significant time and frustration later.
Your first step after developing your research plan will be to consult secondary sources. Secondary sources are useful because they explain the law in easy-to-understand language and they provide citations to the governing primary law (statutes, cases, regulations, etc.).
Select a secondary source from one of the subject-specific lists of treatises available on our Treatises Guide.
Hopefully your secondary sources gave you citations to the primary law that governs your issue. Now you read it (or at least the relevant parts). You need to ensure not only that the secondary source got it right, but that you fully understand what the primary law says and means.
When viewing primary law, you can use research tools to find related primary law and secondary sources. These tools include:
For every piece of primary law you rely on, you need to use a citator to make sure that it is still good law. Failure to use a citator is not only embarrassing, it can be grounds for attorney malpractice.
Ideally you are thinking analytically throughout this entire process, but at this stage it is wise to step back and ask the following questions:
Depending on your answers to these questions, you may need to run through the process again.