Lessons: Legal Research

This lesson will introduce you to the process of researching federal agency decisions. You should expect to encounter: overview of agency regulatory powers; types of agency decisions; how to find them; how to update them; and their precedential value.

In this lesson, it will be assumed that you are comfortable with the concepts involved in researching judicial court opinions and agency regulations.

40 minutes
LR57

This lesson will help you master legal citation using the ALWD Citation Manual: A Professional System of Citation (Fourth Edition).

There are two versions of this lesson available from CALI. Please make sure that you are working through the version assigned to you by your professor. Each version has the same coverage. This is the single-lesson version. The other version takes the original lesson and divides it into four parts, with each part being a separate lesson.

Throughout this lesson, you will be asked to read specific portions of the ALWD Citation Manual. You then will be asked to complete interactive exercises that will test your understanding of and ability to apply the various citation rules. Topics covered include typeface, spacing abbreviations, capitalization, ordinal numbers, pinpoint pages and section numbers, full and short citation formats, cases, statutes, books, legal periodicals, introductory signals, and quotations. You may complete the entire lesson at one time or complete segments as you cover various parts of the Manual in class or on your own.

between two and five hours.
LWR10

This lesson will help you master legal citation using the ALWD Citation Manual: A Professional System of Citation (Fourth Edition).

There are two versions of this lesson available from CALI. Please make sure that you are working through the version assigned to you by your professor. Each version has the same coverage. The "original" version is a single lesson. This version takes the original lessons and divides it into four parts, with each part being a separate lesson.

You should start your study with this lesson, Part 1.

Throughout the ALWD lesson, you will be asked to read specific portions of the ALWD Citation Manual. You then will be asked to complete interactive exercises that will test your understanding of and ability to apply the various citation rules. Topics covered in this part include typeface, spacing abbreviations, capitalization, ordinal numbers, pinpoint pages and section numbers, and full and short citation formats. Other lessons cover cases, statutes, books, legal periodicals (Part 2), and introductory signals, and quotations (Part 3).

25 minutes
LWR10_01

This lesson has been revised for Fall 2010 to reflect the 4th edition of the ALWD Citation Manual.

This lesson will help you master legal citation using the ALWD Citation Manual: A Professional System of Citation (Fourth Edition).

There are two versions of this lesson available from CALI. Please make sure that you are working through the version assigned to you by your professor. Each version has the same coverage. The "original" version is a single lesson. This version takes the original lessons and divides it into four parts, with each part being a separate lesson.

You should start your study with Part 1.

Throughout the ALWD lesson, you will be asked to read specific portions of the ALWD Citation Manual. You then will be asked to complete interactive exercises that will test your understanding of and ability to apply the various citation rules. Topics covered in this part include cover cases, statutes, books, and legal periodicals. Other lessons include typeface, spacing abbreviations, capitalization, ordinal numbers, pinpoint pages and section numbers, and full and short citation formats (Part 1), and introductory signals, and quotations (Part 3).

45 minutes
LWR10_02

This lesson will help you master legal citation using the ALWD Citation Manual: A Professional System of Citation (Fourth Edition).

There are two versions of this lesson available from CALI. Please make sure that you are working through the version assigned to you by your professor. Each version has the same coverage. The "original" version is a single lesson. This version takes the original lessons and divides it into four parts, with each part being a separate lesson.

You should start your study with Part 1.

Throughout the ALWD lesson, you will be asked to read specific portions of the ALWD Citation Manual. You then will be asked to complete interactive exercises that will test your understanding of and ability to apply the various citation rules. Topics covered in this part include introductory signals, and quotations. Other lessons typeface, spacing abbreviations, capitalization, ordinal numbers, pinpoint pages and section numbers, and full and short citation formats (Part 1) and cover cases, statutes, books, legal periodicals (Part 2).

30 minutes
LWR10_03

This lesson will help you master legal citation using the ALWD Citation Manual: A Professional System of Citation (Fourth Edition).

There are two versions of this lesson available from CALI. Please make sure that you are working through the version assigned to you by your professor. Each version has the same coverage. The "original" version is a single lesson. This version takes the original lessons and divides it into four parts, with each part being a separate lesson.

You should start your study with Part 1.

Throughout the ALWD lesson, you will be asked to read specific portions of the ALWD Citation Manual. You then will be asked to complete interactive exercises that will test your understanding of and ability to apply the various citation rules. This part is a Final Quiz reviewing material covered in the three other lessons. Other lessons cover the topics of typeface, spacing abbreviations, capitalization, ordinal numbers, pinpoint pages and section numbers, and full and short citation formats (Part 1) citation of cases, statutes, books, legal periodicals (Part 2), and introductory signals, and quotations (Part 3).

30 - 45 minutes
LWR10_04

This lesson is an introduction to the American Law Reports (ALR) and is intended for use by students in introductory legal research classes. The goal is to give you an understanding of the features of the resource, the best methods for using it, and an understanding of when to use it.

30 minutes
LWR21

This brief lesson will familiarize the student with the basic parts of a case (i.e., the written decision of a court published in a print reporter).

15 minutes
LR47

This lesson is designed to familiarize students with Arizona's primary legal sources. It will also provide a basic understanding of how to use these sources in conducting legal research. No prerequisite knowledge is required to follow this lesson.

1 hour
LR48

This lesson introduces students to secondary resources for Arizona legal researchers.

30-45 minutes
LR74

Unavailable - Currently being revised

This lesson covers the Arkansas constitution, statutes, legislative history, cases, courts and court rules, and administrative materials. It was designed for those who have a general knowledge of researching primary legal sources.

45 minutes
LR98

This is an introduction to federal and state attorney general materials.

30 minutes
LR44

This lesson is designed to familiarize law students with legal materials that can be used when dealing with juries. It covers jury instructions, voir dire, and jury verdicts.

30 minutes
LR123

This lesson will introduce you to all of the types of primary sources you will encounter when researching California law. Topics include the Constitution, Statutes and Codes, administrative law, court system, and researching cases in California. No prior knowledge of California legal materials is required.

1.5 hours
LR88

This lesson will serve as an introduction to some of the secondary resources available in the field of California law. The topics covered include the online and print formats of treatises, practice guides and the state legal encyclopedia. No prior knowledge of California law or legal materials is required, however students should have a basic understanding of building search queries with Westlaw and Lexis.

This lesson may be worked in two parts. Part one deals with California treatises and the legal encyclopedia. Part two covers California practice guides.

75 minutes
LR82

This exercise is to help users learn the rules of proper citation form for briefs and legal memoranda. It does not deal with proper citation form for law review footnotes. It is divided into three sections: Section A deals with cases, B with statutory materials and C with secondary authorities.

Three types of questions are included within each section. The first type provides the user with information about a source and requires her to choose the appropriate citation from four possibilities. The second question type presents a citation and requires the student to determine whether the citation is correct and if not to identify the element of the citation that is incorrect. For each incorrect response to the first two types of questions, an explanation is provided, along with reference to the appropriate rule in A Uniform System of Citation. The third and most difficult type of question presents the user with the necessary information and requires him to write the citation. The correct citation is then displayed so that the student may compare his answer with the correct citation.

This lesson is revised to reflect the 19th ed. of The Bluebook.

1.0 - 1.5 hours
LWR01

This lesson will introduce you to how codes are created, how they're organized, how they're published, and what it all means for your legal research. It is intended for first-year law students, or anyone who needs a refresher on the basics of this topic. This lesson assumes that you are familiar with how statutes are passed and how they're first published, either from your own knowledge or from the CALI lesson Introduction to State and Federal Statutes. For one of the questions in this lesson, you should have your Bluebook or ALWD Citation Manual handy.

20 minutes
LWR16

This lesson is intended to familiarize the user with Colorado primary legal research materials. The lesson focuses on primary source material including: the Colorado Constitution, cases and digests, statutes, legislative history materials, executive department documents, and local legislation. No prior knowledge of Colorado legal research is necessary to follow this lesson. While this lesson is aimed primarily at first year law students who will be learning about these materials for the first time, each section may be used independently to brush up on Colorado-specific legal research skills.

1 hour
LR81

This lesson is intended to familiarize the user with Colorado secondary legal research materials. The lesson focuses on secondary source material including: Colorado Practice, treatises, periodicals, CLEs and form books. No prior knowledge of Colorado legal research is necessary to follow this lesson. While this lesson is aimed primarily at first year law students who will be learning about these materials for the first time, each section may be used independently to brush up on Colorado-specific legal research skills.

1 hour
LR92

The goal of this lesson is to introduce you to the basics of conducting company and industry research. Company research is the process of gathering information about a specific company. Once you have information about a company, you may need to know how that company is faring within its industry. Industry is a group of companies that produce similar products or provide similar services. Companies within an industry can be compared to one another or an analysis of the industry itself can be done to see how it is faring.

45 minutes
LWR17

This lesson introduces students to consumer law research as they assist a hypothetical client "Joe" who is the victim of a used car salesman's sleazy tactics. Students will develop strategies for researching consumer law issues on both state and federal levels. The lesson covers the "major player" consumer law statutes and the agencies empowered by those statutes. Important consumer law treatises, looseleafs, and practitioner resources in both the print and online formats are covered.

30 minutes
LR111

This lesson gives the basics of copyright and trademark research, including historical background, statutes, regulations, cases, secondary sources, international materials, and current awareness tools.

45 minutes
LR51

We are all aware of the perils of poor electronic legal research skills. Whether it is the story of the summer associate who was not asked to return to the plumb job for dipping too deep into the Lexis® service budget or the firm librarian's challenge in negotiating a favorable contract with Westlaw® based upon prolonged use of the program by associates reading the daily New York Times, we have all heard of ways the misuse of electronic legal resources has challenged those engaged in legal practice.

Though Westlaw® and Lexis® service provide us with sophisticated functionality that can ease the pain of legal research, these systems do not necessarily provide the most cost efficient means of conducting research. You may think that using them makes better use of your time, which necessarily results in savings to your clients, but remember, you will bill for the time you invest in electronic researching, in addition to the cost of the research, and if you have not developed a strategy to search effectively, you may incur increased research costs and additional man hours.

This lesson will help you avoid the pitfalls of poor research strategy when using Lexis® service and Westlaw® and briefly introduce you to some cost-saving alternatives.

50 minutes
LR49

Designed to help bridge the gap between law school and law practice, this tutorial introduces law students to commonly-used current awareness tools and alerting services. The lesson covers sources and strategies for finding topical services and newsletters, blogs, email discussion lists, and scholarship repositories in particular legal subjects, as well as using alert services (Lexis/Westlaw alerts, electronic table of contents notification, and RSS feeds) to keep up with the latest developments in a particular area of law.

45 minutes
LR94

The definition and location of customary international law is a difficult research task. This lesson begins by defining customary international law and placing customary international law into context through historical examples. Two research strategies for locating custom will be introduced. The first strategy is to locate pre-defined custom using a source that discusses state practice that has risen to the level of custom. The second and more complex strategy involves searching directly for evidence of customary international law.

30 minutes
LR56

This series of exercises is designed to help the user recognize whether an issue involves federal or state legal issues, and to select legal research sources appropriate to the jurisdiction and the applicable law. This exercise assumes that the user has a basic knowledge of legal research sources.

20 minutes
LWR13

This CALI lesson is intended to familiarize the reader with legal research materials in the District of Columbia. The lesson focuses on primary sources such as statutes, cases, agency regulations, and decisions.

1.5 hours
LR62

A large percentage of litigation arising out of contracts results from poor drafting. In order to eliminate this litigation, it is imperative that law students master good drafting skills. One of the most important aspects of drafting a contract is the operative language—language that affects legal relationships. This lesson is designed to introduce law students to operative language commonly used in drafting contracts, in particular, language of obligation (shall), language of authorization (may) and language of condition precedent (must). The lesson begins with a segment explaining each of the three categories of operative language followed by exercises which permit the student to apply his or her understanding of proper usage of that category. The lesson concludes with a segment of general exercises that test whether students have mastered the distinctions among the different categories of operative language.

45 minutes
LWR05

Drafters of contracts, wills and statutes are plagued with the ambiguities inherent in the use of these two connectors. This lesson is designed to identify these ambiguities and then help students to draft with conjunctions which eliminate those ambiguities.

After completing this lesson students should be able not only to identify ambiguous uses of 'and' and 'or' so that they may better analyze contracts, wills or statutes which they read, but they should also be able to draft documents so that ambiguities are avoided. A variety of real life applications are presented for each drafting problem and students are called upon to draft solutions. Students will interview a client to determine which meaning is appropriate, thus reenforcing the notion that drafting is an iterative process calling upon the lawyer to identify and clarify ambiguities in the client's instructions.

This ambiguity inherent in 'and' and 'or' is discussed at length in Scott Burnham's Drafting and Analyzing Contracts (LexisNexis 3d edition). This lesson uses Burnham's taxonomy as its basis.

30 minutes
LWR04

This is one in a series of lessons directed at the ethical and professional considerations associated with the production of particular lawyering documents. This lesson is intended to introduce first year law students to the ethical and professional considerations associated with the preparation of predictive, interoffice memoranda. It is assumed that students are familiar with predictive, interoffice memoranda. No prior instruction in professional responsibility is required.

45 minutes
LWR41

This lesson will provide the student with the tools to effectively judge the content of web pages. Included in the exercise are four criteria for evaluation: authority, accuracy, comprehensiveness and currency. Each of these concepts is defined through the use of descriptive text followed by screen images of actual law-related web sites to illustrate the concepts.

30 minutes
LWR39

Compiled legislative histories are collections of the documents that make up the legislative history of a law. They save researchers the time and frustration of collecting the documents themselves. This lesson introduces students to print and online sources of compiled legislative histories and time saving strategies for finding them. This lesson builds upon the CALI Lesson Researching Federal Legislative History. While it is not essential to complete that lesson first, doing so will improve your understanding of compiled legislative histories.

30 minutes
LR41

This lesson on federal tax research covers the legislative, administrative, and judicial materials used in the specialized area of tax law. A basic knowledge of primary sources such as statutes, regulations, and cases; secondary sources such as treatises, law reviews, newsletters, citators, digests, and periodical indexes is assumed. Federal taxation is a specialized field with many publications devoted solely to federal taxes. For general background there are many excellent CALI lessons, including, but not limited to Researching Federal Legislative History, Forms of Statutory Publication, Introduction to Secondary Resources, and Updating/Validating Case Law Using Citators.

1.5 hours
LR60

In this lesson, you will learn about the International Court of Justice, one of the principal organs of the United Nations. After an introduction to the Court, you'll learn about some of the print reporters of the Court's decisions and online sources for these opinions. Finally, there will be a discussion of print and online digests of the Court's decisions.

20 minutes
LR66

This exercise is intended to do 2 things: 1) teach you the basic approaches to finding statutes, and 2) provide you with review exercises to reinforce your understanding. It is assumed you are already familiar with the forms of statutory publication when you run this lesson. See the lessons "Introduction to State and Federal Statutes" or "Forms of Federal Statutory Publication" if you need to review these matters first.

While this lesson is intended for first year students, the review sections may be used independently to ‘refresh your recollection,’ so if you haven’t had to deal with statute research for awhile and now have to do it, you can brush up your skills.

45 minutes
LR23

This lesson introduces Florida primary legal resources including the Florida Constitution, statutes, court decisions, Florida administrative law and Florida attorney general opinions.

1 hour
LR86

This lesson introduces the various types of secondary sources available to research Florida law.

30 - 45 minutes
LR85

The four forms of federal statutory publications are slip laws, session laws (or advance session laws), Codes, and Annotated Codes. As a researcher, you will most frequently use an Annotated Code for accessing federal law. It is, however, important to understand each stage of federal legislative publication and the implications for research.

This lesson is designed to give you an introduction to the intricacies of federal statutory publication. You should understand how the different forms are interconnected as well as the differences between them by the completion of this lesson.

25 minutes
LWR30

This lesson is intended to familiarize the reader with Georgia legal research materials and will focus on Georgia's secondary source material. You will learn about finding aids for researching secondary source materials and explore both hard cover and online tools to access secondary source materials.

45 minutes
LR64

This lesson is intended to familiarize the reader with Georgia legal research materials. The lesson focuses on Georgia's primary source material including cases and digests, citators, statutes, administrative materials, court rules and ethics.

1 hour, 15 minutes
LR42

This lesson is intended to familiarize the user with the range of documents produced by the Federal government, where they can be found, and how they can be used in a law practice. The lesson focuses on issues surrounding government documents including: authenticity, how to find and use government documents, and statistics. While this lesson is aimed primarily at second and third year law students who will be learning about these materials for the first time, each section may be used independently to gain knowledge about the particular topic involved.

45-50 minutes
LR96

This lesson is an introduction to health law with a concentration on health care law and is intended for use by upper level students interested in researching health law and policy. However, this lesson may be utilized by any researcher interested in brushing up on their legal research skills. The goal of this lesson is to (1) provide an understanding of the regulatory scheme of health care institutions at both the state and federal level; and (2) give a critical overview of the features of analytical materials (secondary sources) that you may utilize for more in-depth understanding.

45 minutes
LR134

Knowing when to stop is important for efficient and cost effective legal research. This exercise will cover several factors which you may wish to consider.

45 minutes
LWR31

This is an exercise designed to introduce first-semester law students to the basic elements of a typical case "brief" and to teach them general methodology for writing their own briefs. The exercise consists of three parts: (1) an introduction to the purposes and uses of a case brief; (2) a detailed examination of each of the ten components of a typical case brief (with examples); and (3) two actual cases that students are asked to read and then to brief, using the methodology described in this exercise. A sample brief for each of the two cases is also provided, thereby allowing students to correct and modify their briefs by way of comparison.

2 hours
LWR09

This exercise will provide the student with a detailed introduction to using the digests to find case law. Example pages from the West reporters and digests are provided and hypothetical research issues are demonstrated to show how these books are used.

Note: A brief excerpt from this lesson is available as the separate CALI Lesson "Anatomy of a Case".

1 hour
LWR29

This lesson will cover how to conduct legal research about the U.S. Constitution and the constitutions of individual states.

90 minutes
LR113

This lesson will cover how to research the constitutions of countries besides the United States.

1 hour
LR116

This lesson will teach you how to locate treaties between Indian tribes and the United States government. It will also show you how to determine whether a particular treaty provision is still in effect and how to interpret ambiguous treaty provisions.

30 minutes
LR115

This lesson will introduce you to the basic sources for finding primary law in Indiana, and how to use them.

1 hour
LR91

This is an introduction to researching the law relating to inter-governmental and non-governmental agencies. IGOs and NGOs have significant input into international law and finding their resources can be integral to research in international law.

40 minutes
LR80

This lesson demonstrates the way in which internet searching can provide access to internal administrative agency materials.

20 minutes
LR50

This lesson will give students a basic introduction to using the Internet for legal research. Students will consider when it is appropriate to use the Internet as a research tool in legal practice, and they will learn how to evaluate the quality and reliability of free web resources. Students will then be introduced to three practical approaches to doing legal research on the Internet.

30 minutes
LR18

This exercise begins with some general background questions to help students place administrative agencies within the greater Constitutional scheme. These questions also address the various powers agencies wield, and the ways they are created. Then the exercise examines several print and online directory sources that offer specific details on individual agencies; it goes on to briefly discuss procedural rules, policy statements, and the process of promulgating regulations. The exercise concludes with review questions.

30-45 minutes
LWR33

This lesson gives a brief introduction to some of the basic concepts in foreign legal research, such as foreign legal systems, availability of materials, and research strategies.

30 minutes
LWR32

This is an introductory lesson for international human rights law and research. The lesson contains four parts. Part I is designed to provide the user with a basic understanding of the development of human rights. Part II introduces the user to the United Nations and regional human rights structures. A researcher must be aware of the structure of the complaint and enforcement systems in order to locate and understand the significance of human rights materials. As a result, a significant amount of time is devoted to this section. Part III contains a discussion of resources available to assist users developing a contextual understanding of human rights issues. The lesson concludes with an overview of resources available for substantive human rights research.

Although humanitarian law or the law of armed conflict is occasionally discussed as a branch of human rights law, this topic is beyond the scope of this introductory lesson. Additionally, this lesson is not intended to cover international criminal law research regarding violations of human rights norms, such as the prohibition on genocide.

75 minutes
LR76

The lesson is designed for students taking an introductory legal research course who are already somewhat familiar with online research on Westlaw and LexisNexis. Students will learn about keyword search formulation strategies and the mechanics of Boolean searching on both systems. This lesson will be useful for students with basic or intermediate keyword searching knowledge and experience.

45 - 60 minutes
LR59

This lesson will provide an overview of secondary resources used in legal research. Secondary resources are books and other material ABOUT legal subjects and issues: they discuss and explain primary resources such as cases and statutes and can be useful in assisting our understanding about specific areas of law. The student will learn about the different types of secondary resources and what secondary resources are most useful for specific types of legal research tasks.

40 - 50 minutes
LWR35

This is an introductory lesson on federal and state statutes, to acquaint first-year law students with this important form of law. The lesson focuses on the basic structure of statutes and the sources in which they appear. It doesn't describe how to research statutes, but you'll learn statutory research much more easily if you learn this material first.

The lesson begins with a Skills Assessment Quiz. This quiz is designed to help you figure out how much you already understand statutes. It covers the most essential information on statutes, which should be gained from the lesson. At the end of the lesson, you can retake the Skills Assessment Quiz and discover how effectively you have improved your understanding.

1 hour
LWR15

This lesson will help you master legal citations using the California Style Manual, Fourth Edition (hereinafter "Manual"). This exercise is to assist you to master the specific rules of citation for your briefs and legal memoranda. It does not deal with proper citation formats for law review footnotes. Throughout this lesson, you will be asked to read specific portions of the Manual and apply that knowledge to answer interactive exercises.

You may complete the entire lesson at one time or complete segments as you cover various parts of the Manual.

1 hour
LR75

This lesson is intended to familiarize the user with the types of primary legal research materials you will encounter when researching Iowa law. The lesson focuses on primary source material including: the Iowa Constitution, Iowa statutes, codes, and administrative law, the Iowa court system, and Iowa cases. The lesson is aimed primarily at first year law students who will be learning about these materials for the first time. Thus, no prior knowledge of Iowa legal research is necessary to follow this lesson.

1 hour
LR108

This lesson will introduce the reader to secondary research sources for Iowa legal research. The lesson will begin with a discussion of finding aids, and will then transition to a discussion of the following secondary resources: Treatises & Practice Materials, Legal Periodicals & Restatements, and sources for Iowa Legal Forms. The lesson is primarily intended as an introduction to these sources but can also be used as a refresher for the seasoned Iowa attorney.

1 hour
LR109

This lesson introduces a modern approach to writing issue statements for traditional memos and briefs. The lesson steers users away from single-sentence issue statements. It bases much of its approach on the syllogism.

45 minutes
LWR28

This is a lesson on Kentucky primary and secondary legal research.
1 hour
LR93

The purpose of this exercise is to help students—especially first-year students—understand the process of legal analysis and improve their legal writing and legal analysis skills. Specifically, students will work on their ability to apply the law to the facts of a problem.

The program focuses on the four basic components of legal analysis, namely: issue, rule of law, application of the law to the facts, and conclusion (IRAC). In the first part of the exercise, the students will work with each of these components individually. In the second part, students will work with a small closed universe situation. They will be given the facts of a problem and the law appropriate to the problem and will be asked to work through the full legal analysis process.

The skills taught in this program can be used in drafting all kinds of legal documents such as memoranda of law, memoranda of points and authorities, client letters, demand/negotiation letters, and briefs. The IRAC approach is also very useful in exam taking.

The program is designed to be simple in its approach so that students can take full advantage of it at a very early stage of their law school career.

1 hour
LWR02

This CALI lesson is about Legal Encyclopedias. As one of the main types of secondary resources for legal research, Legal Encyclopedias can be useful for a variety of basic legal research tasks. This lesson will give you an overview of legal encyclopedias, explain how they are used in legal research, and run through a couple of hypotheticals using legal encyclopedias. The lesson focuses on the two legal encyclopedias covering American Law in general, Corpus Juris Secundum (CJS) and American Jurisprudence 2d (AmJur 2d) and gives some examples of state legal encyclopedias.

50 minutes
LWR40

This lesson is intended as an introduction to the basic resources for researching the law and does not cover research methods using either print or online sources. References to print or computer-based resources are added for illustration and not comprehensiveness. Using a lawyer-under-construction theme, we take the law student on as an apprentice and introduce him or her to the basic tools of legal research. Legal Research 101: The Tools of the Trade is primarily intended for first year law students. It is most appropriate for law students during their first semester and would also be useful in paralegal studies. The lesson presumes no prior knowledge of how to do legal research. It is, therefore, not intended for the advanced legal researcher, except perhaps as a refresher.

1 hour
LWR08

Choosing the most appropriate sources to fill your research need is a crucial part of your research strategy. Knowing when it is more appropriate to use print legal research sources and when it is more appropriate to use free or fee-based electronic legal research sources is important for efficient and cost effective research. This exercise will focus on the decisions you may need to make when choosing between print, free web, and fee-based electronic databases.

20 minutes
LR58

This exercise is designed to help law students develop their abilities to handle legal research assignments. Students who have some experience doing legal research or who have completed their first year legal research course will benefit the most. However, these lessons may be used to supplement the learning process for students studying legal research for the first time.

A series of tutorials lead students through situations and problems commonly given to new attorneys and student interns. Each section contains questions that test the students' responses to different situations and their understanding of the reasons behind legal research. Throughout the exercise additional information about such topics as legal ethics, malpractice, and legal bibliography is weaved into the questions through pop-up windows. Responses to particular questions may draw students into a mini-lesson, further testing their comprehension and expanding their viewpoints. The exercise begins with Brain Storming where students learn to interpret and analyze research assignments. Developing a Query Statement underscores the need to lucidly define research issues and create a list of search terms. In Documentation, students discover the benefits and necessity of keeping a research log. The techniques of strategic analysis, cost-effective research, and updating are covered in Research Process. Finally, there are a series of questions in Finishing Research that focus on learning when-to-stop. The exercises use realistic research problems and demand that students begin to think logically and practically about legal research.

1 hour
LWR07

This lesson provides a thorough overview of Louisiana Primary Legal Resources. It covers resources that will be familiar to legal researchers from other jurisdictions and examines resources that are unique to Louisiana.

1.5 hours
LR84

Louisiana is a mixed legal jurisdiction with strong ties to French and Spanish Civil Law. There are differences between the civil law practiced in Louisiana and the common law practiced in the other 49 states. Although some of those differences have been bridged, some of the secondary materials discussed in this lesson vary greatly from the secondary materials of other jurisdictions.

This CALI lesson is designed to familiarize the reader with Louisiana secondary legal research materials. You will learn about the various secondary source materials and how to properly use both print and online versions of the materials.

30-45 minutes
LR95

This lesson provides an introduction to research using primary sources of Maryland law, including case reporters and digests, statutes, legislative history, agency regulations and decisions, and attorney general opinions.

2.5 to 3 hours
LR46

This lesson covers secondary resources specific to the State of Maryland.

90 minutes
LR138

This lesson introduces major Massachusetts secondary sources to the researcher. After this lesson, the student will be familiar with major Massachusetts practice materials and know how to find other state specific sources, such as forms, treatises, manuals, legal periodicals, and news sources.

1 hour
LR132

This lesson provides an introduction to legal research in Massachusetts primary law sources. You will explore Massachusetts state statutes, constitution, cases, digest, and regulations in the context of a simple legal problem and answer follow-up questions.

45 minutes
LR110

Looseleaf services can be a rich source of primary and secondary source material for particular areas of law. In this lesson you will learn how looseleaf sets are organized, what features are commonly available, and how to navigate a set while doing research.

30 minutes
LWR37

This lesson covers medical research, as opposed to health law research. This lesson will emphasize resources that are free of charge, although it should be noted that there are also many fee-based services that provide the full text of medical resources; among these is Westlaw's "Medical Litigator," unveiled in early 2007, which provides some access to medical information.

45 - 60 minutes
LR68

This lesson is designed to provide students with both an overview of Michigan primary resources and a "how to" guide to researching various Michigan primary resources. These resources include the Constitution, public acts and statutes, legislative history, Michigan court structure and reporters, digests, citators, court rules, administrative law, and the unique Michigan Uniform System of Citation.

While the lesson aims to introduce the specifics of researching Michigan law to a researcher already familiar with the basics of legal research, it will also be helpful to first year law students trying to understand those basics through the process of Michigan-specific research.

1.5 hours
LR106

This lesson is designed to familiarize the user with materials used in Minnesota legal research. The focus of the lesson is Minnesota's primary source materials.

45 minutes
LR114

This lesson guides the user through Minnesota Secondary Sources. The user will begin the lesson by reviewing the difference between primary and secondary sources. After the review, the user will learn about sources including legal encyclopedia, digests, and treatises. Also covered in the lesson are various practice materials, such as jury instructions, continuing legal education materials, and form books.

45 minutes
LR127

This lesson covers the Mississippi constitution, statutes and legislation, cases, court system and rules, administrative materials, and muncipal laws. It was designed for those who have a general knowledge of researching primary legal sources.

60-95 minutes
LR135

This lesson will cover the range of secondary materials available for the research of Mississippi law.  As a smaller state, there are less extensive secondary sources available than are available for other states.  However, the materials that do exist provide a deep and rich body of literature for assisting in the research of legal issues in the state.

The lesson will present a fact pattern modeled on a true-to-life incident, and use that fact pattern to assist you in becoming familiar with the overall contours of secondary sources in Mississippi.  There will be questions interspersed throughout the lesson.

30-45 minutes
LR133

This lesson is designed to familiarize law students with Missouri's primary law sources. It gives them basic information about locating Missouri's constitution, statutes, bills, legislative history, court opinions, and administrative regulations. No prerequisite knowledge is required to follow this lesson.

1 hour
LR131

This exercise introduces Nebraska primary legal materials, focusing on the Legislative and Judicial branches. Upon the completion of this exercise, users should have a working knowledge of the Legislative and Judicial processes in Nebraska. Users will be able to identify the resources available from each branch, what is found in each resource, and how to properly update the resources.

45 minutes
LR69

This lesson is an overview of the sources for finding and updating Nevada legal materials. Also, it describes materials used in Nevada Legal Research.

45 minutes
LR61

This lesson provides an overview of the primary resources involved in New Jersey legal research. These include statutes, administrative regulations, administrative registers, administrative decisions, court decisions, court rules, and the state constitution.

1 hour
LR128

This lesson is intended to acquaint students with basic information regarding sources of primary law in New York state: case law, statutes and regulations. It can be used to supplement instruction in introductory Research and Writing courses or as a freestanding introduction to doing New York legal research.

1 hour
LR67

This CALI lesson will outline some of the most common online news sources sought and how to find them. Many of the skills used to find some of the more common online news sources can be transferable to finding other specialized sources.

45 minutes
LR45

This lesson on North Carolina primary legal research materials will provide an introduction on how to locate North Carolina legal materials including North Carolina constitutional provisions, statutes, case law, regulations, and municipal provisions. In addition to discussing how to locate these materials in print, we will also discuss how to locate them in the major databases and free and low cost databases.

1 hour
LR120

This lesson is designed to give a basic overview of secondary sources used in North Carolina legal research. Secondary resources are commentary on the law written by legal professionals or legal publishers. They are useful for finding background information and citations to primary resources, but it is important to remember that secondary resources are not the law.

For more information on primary sources used in North Carolina legal research, please review the CALI lesson North Carolina Primary Resources.

1 hour
LR122

The purpose of this lesson is to familiarize the learner with Ohio legal research materials. The lesson will focus on primary source materials in Ohio, including case law, statutes, administrative materials, and court rules.

45 minutes
LR78

This lesson gives a brief explanation of secondary sources and then examines the most frequently used sources in Ohio. Explanations of print and online sources are integrated and alternate approaches to finding material are also explored.

45 minutes
LR100

This lesson will introduce you to important secondary sources for Oklahoma legal research and help you develop strategies for using secondary sources to research Oklahoma legal questions. This lesson is intended to supplement the CALI Lesson on Oklahoma primary sources. In addition to the important Oklahoma secondary sources covered in this lesson, researchers should also be aware of secondary resources that are not Oklahoma specific. For information on secondary resources generally, see the CALI Lesson "Introduction to Secondary Resources."

45 minutes
LR121

This lesson will provide an interactive overview of Pennsylvania Primary Resources. Follow Will Penn as he learns to research Pennsylvania's Constitution, Statutes, Legislative History, Administrative Regulations, Case Law, Citators, Court Rules & Briefs.

1 hour
LR54

Introduction to Pennsylvania Secondary Legal Resources. This lessonette walks students through the use of Pennsylvania-specific: legal encyclopedias, forms, practice materials, treatises, and legal periodicals. From how to choose the right source, to how to use them, the student will learn the basics about how secondary sources can help their research needs.

1 hour
LR70

In legal research, it is often easier to begin with secondary sources rather than plunge directly into the search for primary legal authority on your topic. You may want to use secondary sources to find a summary of an area of law, to scope out a legal field to identify more precise topics for your research, and/or as a way to find (through citations) specific references to primary authority that is relevant to your research.

This lesson covers two of the most important external finding tools--periodicals indexes and library catalogs--that you can use to help find secondary sources relevant to your research. In the course of this lesson, you will learn how these tools are organized, and how to use them to identify periodical articles and books on a topic.

1 hour
LWR34

Plagiarism is serious, especially for law students This lesson will explain what constitutes plagiarism, how to avoid plagiarizing, and will offer opportunities for students to test their understanding of plagiarism.

45 minutes
LWR63

Preemption Checking determines if an idea for a journal note or paper is original. This lesson explains the sources and process of conducting a pre-emption check.

30 minutes
LR102

This lesson is designed to familiarize law students with legal materials that can be used when preparing for litigation. Rather than creating from scratch many of the documents needed in preparing for a trial, it is much more efficient to find sample documents that can help guide you. Students will be introduced to the various sources that attorneys turn to, including sample forms, pleadings, interrogatories, and other useful resources.

45 minutes
LR118

The purpose of this CALI lesson is to guide students who are not experienced in researching private international law questions.

45 minutes
LR77

Punctuation and grammar mistakes can hurt your grades and cost you a job. This lesson reviews the most common writing errors students make and explains the basic rules that will help you avoid mistakes.

50 minutes
LWR26

Most students do all right with commas, periods, sentence fragments, and verb agreement. But what about colons, dashes, passive voice, and parallelism? This lesson covers several advanced topics in grammar and punctuation for the legal writer who is ready to move beyond the basics.

1 hour
LWR52

This lesson will teach you how to read information from legislative history, the next step after gathering the materials. Additionally, this lesson will help you find just the intent behind specific language of a law or statute.

45 minutes
LR137

This lesson will give you some background about Regional Organizations, collections of countries, organized by region, engaged in collaborative work toward some common goal. You will learn to find the documents of some of the most important Regional Organizations on the web.

45 minutes
LR90

This lesson will familiarize students with the use of procedural forms designed to assist in litigation practice.

30-40 minutes
LR107

This lesson provides an introduction to locating and utilizing transactional forms.

40 minutes
LR103

This CALI lesson will instruct students about issues associated with California ballot measures including locating documents, identifying legislative intent, and examining legal challenges.

1 hour
LR99

This is an introductory lesson on Canadian legal research. This particular lesson treats research techniques and sources from the perspective that you are faced with a case based problem. A second separate lesson treats Canadian legal research from the perspective that you have a statute based problem. The lessons assume no knowledge of the areas, but treat basic research in Canadian federal statutes, administrative material, and cases. It is assumed that readings and these exercises are in preparation for doing research with a basic Canadian legal collection, and that the collection might simply consist of Lexis, Quicklaw, or use of the Internet. Paper publications optionally used, include the Statutes of Canada, 1984 - , the Revised Statutes of Canada 1985, and the Canada Gazette Part II (1987-).

1.25 hours
LWR12

This is an introductory lesson on Canadian legal research. This particular lesson treats research techniques and sources from the perspective that you are faced with a statute based problem. A second separate lesson treats Canadian legal research from the perspective that you have a case based problem. The lessons assume no knowledge of the areas, but treat basic research in Canadian federal statutes, administrative material, and cases. It is assumed that readings and these exercises are in preparation for doing research with a basic Canadian legal collection, and that the collection might simply consist of Lexis, Quicklaw, or use of the Internet. Paper publications optionally used, include the Statutes of Canada, 1984 - , the Revised Statutes of Canada 1985, and the Canada Gazette Part II (1987-).

1 hour
LWR11

This lesson will teach law students and practitioners how to research and efficiently locate the rules and regulations promulgated by federal administrative agencies. This is a skill that will be important to a lawyer practicing law in any area, especially those areas for which Congress has delegated significant authority to administrative agencies. The lesson focuses on the official sources of this information: the Federal Register, the Code of Federal Regulations, and their related materials. However, the knowledge gained from this lesson should be applicable to any version of federal regulations available in a law library.

Researching Federal Administrative Regulations is organized into four subject categories: Introduction, Sources of Information, Updating Regulatory Information, and Researching Regulations. Each subject is further organized into one or two specific topics. Each topic represents an independent lesson module containing instructional text and exercises. For example, the Sources of Information category contains lesson modules for the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations. Each of these modules first presents relevant material on the use of the resource and then provides the student with a quiz.

This lesson structure allows for a variety of learning approaches. The student may systematically go through the lesson, module by module, or may select those topics of most interest and/or least knowledge. Additionally, the lesson begins with a Skills Assessment Quiz. This quiz is designed to help the user to determine a base knowledge of federal regulatory research. It covers the most essential information for the regulatory researcher and that which should be gained from the lesson. At the end of the lesson, students will have an opportunity to retake the Skills Assessment Quiz and discover how effective the modules have been in improving their knowledge.

2-3 hours
LWR06

This lesson will introduce you to methods of finding and updating federal executive orders. It assumes no prior knowledge of the subject, and is therefore appropriate for any law student who needs to learn how to research federal executive orders.

30 minutes
LWR22

This exercise will introduce students to the federal legislative process and the various congressional documents in a legislative history. Students will be introduced to free legislative databases on the Internet. Through various cases, students will see how the courts use congressional documents to interpret laws.

20 minutes
LWR14

This lesson will acquaint you with the sources of international environmental law, and give you strategies for researching it.

30-45 minutes
LR72

This lesson will introduce the student to researching legal ethics. The student will be introduced to the history of legal ethics governance and will learn about the development and adoption of the Model Code, Model Rules, and state and local variations. Students will learn the difference between command, permissive, and aspirational language. Finally, students will learn about the research process by working through a hypothetical designed to introduce them to a number of resources.

20 minutes
LR43

This lesson will assist the student both in reviewing effective legal research techniques and learning something about an area of law not often studied in law school: Social Security disability. To accomplish this the student will examine a real life fact scenario in order to navigate the primary and secondary resources in this area.

1 hour
LR136

This lesson will provide students with some general background on U.S. immigration law and help them get familiar with basic immigration law research. Students should have a fundamental knowledge of legal research tools but do not need to have any background in immigration law to proceed with the lesson. Ideally, the lesson would work best while also learning about Immigration Law while taking a class in the subject.

40 minutes
LR53

This lesson will explain uniform laws and model codes. It provides an overview of how uniform laws are created and shows researchers how to locate uniform laws, drafters' commentary, state versions of uniform laws, and cases interpreting them.

25 minutes
LWR25

This exercise will introduce you to the quasi-legislative process known as rulemaking. It will familiarize you with the publication system and with the sources you will access to find and update regulations. The exercise includes several images of Federal Register and Code of Federal Regulations pages, and links to regulatory information on the Government Printing Office's homepage. The exercise is designed to augment a substantive Administrative Law Course or an Advanced Legal Research class.

55 minutes
LWR19

In the process of legal research, primary authority is the law in your jurisdiction, which comes directly from a legislative body, court, or administrative agency.

This lesson on South Carolina primary source materials covers the South Carolina Constitution; South Carolina state and local laws (Legislative); South Carolina administrative agency regulations and other executive materials (Executive); and, South Carolina appellate court rules and decisions (Judicial).

30 minutes
LR97

This lesson is designed to cover how to distinguish legally relevant facts, contextually relevant facts, and nonrelevant facts; plus, how to use each of those types of facts. It is also designed to cover beginning and organizing a statement of facts, writing facts briefly and readably, stating facts objectively, and stating facts persuasively.

60 minutes
LWR27

This lesson introduces the student to the doctrine and processes involved in interpreting state and federal statutes. Statutes are a critical part of every substantive area of the law, so this is important background for every law student, lawyer and judge.

30 minutes
LCS03

This lesson provides an overview of the history and structure of the European Union, followed by an introduction to researching European Union documents. The European Union is a truly unique structure which represents over half a century of cooperation between select nations. As the sole supranational legal order in the world, the European Union offers a truly unique model of study to legal scholars and practitioners.

1 hour
LR89

This CALI lesson will introduce you to Tennessee primary sources. As an overview of these materials this lesson will not describe any one resource in great depth. CALI lessons describing statutes, cases, digests, etc. are a great resource for learning more about individual authorities. This lesson is intended primarily for first year law students.

30-45 minutes
LR126

This lesson is intended to familiarize the reader with Tennessee legal research materials and will focus on Tennessee secondary authorities. You will learn about finding aids for researching secondary authorities and explore both hard cover and online tools to access secondary source materials.

30 - 45 minutes
LR124

This lesson is intended to familiarize the reader with Texas legal research and will focus on Texas' primary legal sources: constitution, statutes, legislative history, local legislation, court cases and administrative law. The major finding tools and their various types of updating methods are also explained.

1 hour
LR112

This lesson is a general introduction to resources for researching Tribunals and Truth Commissions.  The lesson will focus on online and print sources relating to tribunals and truth commissions with a specific focus on the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

The lesson is divided into four parts:

  • Introduction to Tribunals
  • ICTY
  • ICTR
  • Truth Commissions

The sources highlighted in this lesson is a selective list from the many sources available on this topic. For additional assistance in locating sources at Columbia's Diamond Law Library, please do not hesitate to contact the reference librarians at the Reference Desk.

45 minutes
LR83

This lesson will provide an understanding of the language, mechanics and process of conducting research of U.S. treaties: the major sources of treaty texts (both official and unofficial), major indexes and finding tools, major secondary resources to aid in research, sources of reservations and declarations, and finally, resources for updating treaties.

40 minutes
LR55

This lesson will show you the basic tools for finding United Nations materials. It first gives an overview of how the United Nations is organized. It includes descriptions of each of the principal organs of the U.N. and an overview of the United Nations document numbering system. It then shows several online tools for United Nations research: the U.N.'s web site; the U.N. Documentation Centre; Official Document System; AccessUN; and UNBISNet. It ends with an introduction to a few web sites for very current information about the United Nations.

45 minutes
LR65

This lesson will take you through the process of updating statutes. It builds on concepts developed in the lesson, Introduction to State and Federal Statutes, and the Codification lesson. This lesson assumes a basic understanding of statutes including how they are created and codified.

1 hour
LWR24

This lesson explains how to make sure your case is still "good law." Focusing on print and on-line citators, specifically Shepard's, LexisNexis Shepard's on-line, and Westlaw KeyCite, it builds on concepts introduced in various CALI lessons including: " Legal Research 101: The Tools of the Trade"; "Legal Research Methodology"; "How to Find Case Law Using Digests"; and "Hold'em, Fold'em, Walk Away or Run: When to Stop the Search." This lesson assumes a basic understanding of case law including the specific parts of a reported court decision. This lesson may be used as an introduction to the subject, and also as a review at the end of a legal research course, or before moving to more advanced legal research projects or courses. The lesson provides an option to move directly from the introductory material to on-line citators, skipping citators in print.

45 minutes
LWR36

This lesson will teach you how to use the three major legal citators - Shepard's in print, Shepard's on Lexis, and KeyCite on Westlaw - to locate additional useful cases when starting with one case or other document, and to find secondary resources such as law reviews when starting with a case or other document.

90 minutes
LR104

This lesson is no longer available. There is no version of this lesson that works with Windows or Mac OS-X.

3 hours
LWR03

This lesson is intended as an introduction to the use of the Restatements of the Law. In this lesson students will learn what the Restatements of the Law are and why one would use them for legal research, their major features, how to search them, and how to use them to find cases.

20 minutes
LWR38

This CALI lesson provides instruction on conducting Utah legal research using both primary and secondary sources.

1 hour 15 minutes
LR87

This lesson is an introduction to researching Virginia law using primary source materials, such as the Code of Virginia, Virginia state caselaw, and the Virginia Administrative Code.

1 hour
LR129

This CALI lesson is designed to introduce students to Washington's primary law: cases, statutes and regulations. Although the lesson can be used as a standalone tool, it can also be used to supplement other forms of instruction such as classroom lectures or demonstrations. The questions provide students with ongoing feedback as they learn.

50 minutes
LR71

This lesson covers secondary source research for the State of Washington.

30 minutes
LR117

This is an overview of the branches of the U.S. government and how they make law.

30 minutes
LCS04

This lesson will introduce you to primary legal materials in Wisconsin. You will learn how to locate Wisconsin constitutional provisions, state statutes, case opinions, and regulations using both print and electronic resources.

45 minutes
LR130

This CALI lesson provides a general review of legal research and an introduction to Wyoming primary and secondary resources.

1 hour
LR73

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