Legal research is the study of laws, previous cases, rulings given in those cases, etc. But, this is also one part.
It also includes the exploration of:
- the laws formed in the past and their current validity status,
- new updations made in the past laws, if any,
- their relevance in the present case under hearing in the court.
Thus, it is one of the many tasks that lawyers do when you hire them to present your case in a court of law.
What terms are commonly employed in legal research?
Legal researchers must acquaint themselves with the following terms:
What are the main sources of information for legal research?
- Parallel citation: When the same case is cited in two or more different case reports, it is categorized as a parallel citation.
- Shepardize: To check the citation’s relevance and applicability by referring to Shepard’s Citations and ascertain whether the case is still good or has made an appearance in other jurisdictions.
- Stare Decisis: It means to check adherence to precedence on laws’ questions by the court while giving a ruling. This doctrine is written to ensure consistency, reliability, and certainty in the process of providing justice.
- Opinion: It is the decision given in writing by the judge stating the reason behind it and while explaining the law that bases it.
- KeyCite: It is the citation tool that one can refer to check historical references, statutes, regulations, and proves utility in citing references.
The legal researchers can get the support of two types of information sources:
What is the purpose of legal research?
- Primary Law: The country’s lawmakers created binding laws comprising case law, regulations, and statutes. This forms the primary information source and helps find the sections and sub-sections applicable to any case.
- Secondary Sources: Sources other than the binding law such as treatises, legal digests, journals, that include instances where primary law was referred and how, and related legal theories constitute secondary sources of legal research.
Legal research helps solve the problem under the court’s consideration. This is the job that the legal research assistants do during the internship or working as an assistant to a well-established lawyer.
This research is useful in substantiating facts presented in support of any argument or to refute it while fighting the case for the client.
It is also used to write a thesis as part of the degree program curriculum, as it helps add credibility to the research work done by a legal scholar.
Sometimes, lawmakers employ legal research to introduce new bills in the parliament.
Legal research is a trusted tool useful in accomplishing purposes like presenting a case in the court of law, writing a thesis, and exploring the utility and relevance of various laws prevalent in the State. Suppose any change is to be made in an existing rule. In that case, the legal research helps understand its obsoleteness and accentuate any wrong impact it causes to changing sensibilities in the State’s socio-cultural-economic set-up.