You will experience the importance of legal research when a client seeks your help to modify a court decision regarding the custody of their children, to sue on their behalf for non-payment of rent, to file a criminal complaint for libel and defamation, to have defend you from the accusation of a crime of corporate espionage, or to defend you in a consumer arbitration, among others Law Tutor.
Legal research will help you find, understand, and apply the law correctly . Conducting good legal research will provide you with the foundation you need to proceed with confidence and achieve the best possible outcome for your client. Despite the importance of legal research in everyday legal practice, it is often surprising how many law students (and sometimes lawyers themselves) seem uninterested in the subject. Perhaps it should not be surprising that legal research does not always have the appeal that other activities within our profession (meetings with clients, attending conferences, etc.) may have.
Legal research also requires more practical work that rarely evokes the affection of law students. Many students have the misconception that legal research is easy. Whatever the reason for the initial lack of interest in legal research, something changes when students begin their internships in law firms or when young lawyers take their first job as an intern. That’s because they are asked to investigate, again and again and again.
In fact, most of the Faculty students and the young interns and former interns with whom we have spoken have carried out a lot of legal research – like bookworms – in their early stages of professional practice. Little by little it is being understood that this is a critical skill that jurists must necessarily acquire if they wish to be successful in their work as lawyers.
What we can say from this platform is that the sooner you have a positive appreciation of the importance of legal research, the better it will be for you. Improvisation doesn’t help. And the false appearances of possessing legal knowledge that one does not have, sooner or later will be discovered.
The legal investigation process basically contains the following phases :
Find or identify the correct law applicable to the case at hand in order to resolve it.
Interpret the law
Taking these phases into account, here are 5 tips that can help you improve your legal research capabilities:
1) Broaden your vision of legal research
Some law students and even lawyers have a narrow view of research. For them, research is reduced to visiting payment portals managed by publishers and information found on Google. Good legal research, however, involves much more than accessing a digital research system or Internet portal; It is above all a process. Good legal research intertwines reading, analysis, understanding and correct application . While it is important to identify the applicable law for the case at hand, you have not truly found the law until you truly understand it. A research system, whether digital or physical, won’t be able to do that for you.
Any attorney’s understanding and analysis of a matter often begins with him/her identifying the relevant facts and determining the primary and ancillary legal issues to investigate. This analysis continues and is refined as you decide where, how, and what exactly to look for. While accessing various legal materials to investigate (compendiums of legislation, jurisprudence comments, doctrinal articles published in magazines or blogs, etc.), the lawyer must worry about understanding them and draw his own conclusions regarding how the selected law applies to the cases. facts of your specific matter. This preliminary investigation provides a crucial analytical foundation that will justify your subsequent decisions about the case. When you look at it this way, legal research can be seen not just as a process of quickly searching for information on “Google” but as a critical and enduring component of how you serve and represent your client.
2) Take legal research seriously
If you truly want to prepare to practice law competently, you need to be committed to developing your research skills. If you are studying law, do not disdain your legal research subjects. The more time you dedicate to these classes the more benefit you will get from them in the long term.
Taking research seriously also means being able to work on your skills and knowledge outside of a “structured” law class. The truth is that there is never enough time in a legal research class or in the daily practice of the profession to cover everything: the complexities of the areas of legal knowledge, the latest databases that have appeared, etc. Your Bar Association will likely offer you training sessions to help you learn these things and be more practical and faster in your information searches. But you won’t be able to attend all of them. In other words, you may not be able to cover everything you want.
However, the databases offered by some paid publishers as well as certain blogs, and the official information posted on the Internet, contain useful information to seriously begin our research work. You will find a list of some of the most useful and read legal websites in Spain on the “Notaries and Registrars” website (in its ranking of Spanish legal websites based on Alexa, published in June 2019).
Your legal library as a source of everything related to legal research is not only made up of books, blogs and articles published on the Internet. You also have available Twitter and certain pages for lawyers published on Facebook that allow jurists and law students to stay up to date on what’s new. We recommend that you keep a record (database) of all your sources of information: you will be surprised to be aware of the number of sources of legal knowledge that you currently have at your disposal to be able to carry out adequate legal work.
3) Create digital alarms for official legal information that is published on the Internet
In the case of Spain – if you are not already – you should sign up for the email notifications sent daily by the Official State Gazette (BOE). You can also follow the Twitter account of the General Council of the Judiciary and the General Council of Spanish Lawyers, as well as the CENDOJ account.
We also recommend downloading the CURIA application where you can find out the latest rulings from the Court of Justice of the European Union.
This is official legal information that you have at your disposal free of charge and accessible, and in practically real time. A few years ago this was not possible.
4) Exercise in advanced legal research
If your school or bar association offers an advanced or specialized legal research course, take it! Even if you don’t like legal research. And more especially, take it if you are not good at legal research. It will help you improve.
Most, if not all, advanced legal research classes are taught by expert law librarians and expert researchers who know the latest legal resources. They can teach you a lot about the legal research process and generally offer the necessary advice .
If you want to become a good researcher you will have to do a lot of research. If you don’t practice research now, you will have to do it sooner or later in your daily work. Get ready and enjoy it.
5) Learn from the best
Read what renowned law professors write in the field of legal research in specialized magazines. Consult the opinions of the Council of State that are published in the BOE. Review the Reports of the Legal Commission of the General Council of Spanish Lawyers. In these sources of legal knowledge you will find top quality legal information.
Attend talks and forums where there is true legal debate and you can learn, in addition to adding value to the group with your interventions.