The goal of this course is to introduce students to effective legal research techniques. By the end of this course, they should be able to:
· Develop and implement research strategies using a combination of resources to answer different types of legal questions;
· Distinguish between primary and secondary legal materials;
· Distinguish between mandatory and persuasive legal materials;
· Use secondary sources as persuasive authority and to obtain background information and citations to primary authority on legal issues;
· Locate and update current state and federal statutes;
· Locate and update state and federal case law;
· Understand the basics of state and federal administrative law resources;
· Understand the basics of court rules, forms, and other practice materials;
· Understand the basics of foreign and international legal research and the distinction between them;
· Understand cost-effective methods of legal research.
To achieve these objectives, the students will:
· Research open-ended problems involving both state and federal issues;
· Design and implement research strategies for different types of research situations.
The first semester (Fall) consist of 5 two hour classes to expose students to the basics of the law library, Westlaw and Lexis, the legal research process, secondary sources, and state statutory research. The classes in the second semester (Spring) will be two hours long with exercises.
There is no required text for the research component. We recommend students read portions of Robert C. Berring, Finding the Law (12th ed., Thomson/West 2005), as assigned. Students will also be assigned CALI exercises and other online tutorials.
The course will be taught by the research librarians. Instruction will involve lectures, but will primarily be done through hands-on ungraded exercises. Classes with exercises will be two hours long, so that they may be completed in-class.
In addition to the ungraded exercises, students will be required to complete two graded research projects; the first will be worth 30% of the final grade, while the second will be worth 50%. The remaining 20% of the grade will come from class participation, attendance, completion of the exercises, and a final quiz. The grade will be awarded at the end of the Spring semester.
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