Legal research paper

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The Legal Research Process

The process that a person, lawyer, or legal scholar uses to discover the answer to a legal issue is referred to as legal research. To determine the most suitable resolution to the legal case, each legal issue necessitates thorough investigation from reliable sources. Legal precedent that is relevant to the case in issue is frequently cited in legal research cases. The case law must be mentioned during a trial or in a legal argument. The two main sources used in legal study are primary law and secondary authority. When conducting legal research, one has to refer to the opinions of the court, parallel citations and stare decisis to create a more concrete report on the issue under legal investigation. This paper discusses the three-step system for completing the legal research process.

Step 1: Formulating the Research Plan

The first step is to formulate the research plan that the legal researcher has to use. The research plan is often dependent on the legal question that is subjected to investigation. There is also a need to establish the parties that are integrated into the case and the nature of relationships amongst the parties that are involved in the case. When formulating the research plan, the legal researchers needs to list down the areas of law that are related to the issue or topic that is under investigation (Marke, Sloane & Ryan, 2007). The areas of law are closely tied up with the jurisdiction in which the legal case or issue falls. When formulating the research plan, one needs to use the reputable legal source us the constitution and use key work searches in realizing the relevant sources that ought to be used in the legal research (Marke, Sloane & Ryan, 2007).

Step 2: Consulting Primary and Secondary Resources

The second process in legal research is to consult both the primary and the secondary resources. There are various legal sources that one may consult to gain information related to the research plan and question that is under investigation (Hatch & Hatch, 2006). The choice of the sources that one ought to utilize is dependent on the familiarity or unfamiliarity of the researcher with the legal question under investigation. Where one is familiar with the legal question, one needs to consult the treaties, restatements, and the subject-specific law journals. Restatements are often valuable when one is investigating a case related to the law of torts. In a situation where one is not familiar with the research question that is under investigation, there is a need to consult the legal encyclopedia and the law journals. An example of a law journal that is often consulted by many legal researchers is the Florida Law Review. Additionally, the American Law reports are also valuable sources of information that can be sought by the legal scholars and researchers in finding a solution to the legal issue under investigation. Often, one tends to consult the legal encyclopedia, law journals, and the American Law Reports with the perspective that there is consistency in the delivery of justice. Therefore, the existence of a legal precedence shapes the outcome of the subsequent cases that could be filed before a court of law (Hatch & Hatch, 2006). The secondary sources are known to lead to the primary sources that can be utilized by the researcher in identifying information related to the legal topic. Case laws are the primary sources used in legal research.

Step 3: Expanding the Primary Law

The third process in legal research is the expansion of the primary law that one has found out in the legal research process. Taking the case where a researcher has interacted with a case law, there is a need to research that have been placed on footnotes in the primary law to establish the meaning and relevance of the additional statutes to the additional topics that are being investigated (Bast & Hawkins, 2013). During the research, there is a need to have a bias on the most recent case laws. In the third process of the legal research, there is need to recollect the information that has been gathered in the research process in writing. The writing needs to be reviewed with the first intent being to determine the sections of the written paper that ought to cited. Appropriate citations need to be made on the relevant parts. The most recommended citation style for most legal papers is OSCOLA. The facts that are presented in any given case need to have an equal relevance and consistency with the facts of the case or legal issue that is under investigation.


In conclusion, legal research is the most fundamental stage in law practice as it enables a lawyer or the legal researcher to find the most valid information that could answer the legal question that has been subjected to debate. The primary and secondary legal sources need to be referred to by the legal researcher to flesh the legal research report that is written by the legal scholar. The review of the legal research by a legal peer or a senior lawyer is critical in establishing if the facts that are presented in the case laws used in the research and the legal question are all analogous.


Bast, C. M., & Hawkins, M. (2013). Foundations of legal research and writing. Clifton Park, NY: Delmar Cengage Learning.

Hatch, S. A., & Hatch, L. Z. (2006). Paralegal career for dummies. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Pub.

Marke, J. J., Sloane, R., & Ryan, L. M. (2007). Legal research and law library management. New York, N.Y: Law Journal Press.

July 15, 2023

Education Law



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