LEGAL RESEARCH COMPETENCIES

Remember a long time ago…..you posted on the Discussion Form the one Standard that you would like to work on  during this class and the one that you believed that you had fairly well mastered….. Take time to consider now how your confidence has grown since the first day of class

PRINCIPLES AND STANDARDS FOR LEGAL RESEARCH COMPETENCY
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PRINCIPLE I: A SUCCESSFUL LEGAL RESEARCHER POSSESSES FOUNDATIONAL KNOWLEDGE OF THE LEGAL SYSTEM AND LEGAL INFORMATION SOURCES, INCLUDING ANALYTICAL TOOLS.

PRINCIPLE II: A SUCCESSFUL LEGAL RESEARCHER GATHERS INFORMATION THROUGH EFFECTIVE AND EFFICIENT RESEARCH STRATEGIES.

PRINCIPLE III: A SUCCESSFUL LEGAL RESEARCHER CRITICALLY EVALUATES INFORMATION.

PRINCIPLE IV: A SUCCESSFUL LEGAL RESEARCHER APPLIES INFORMATION EFFECTIVELY TO RESOLVE A SPECIFIC ISSUE OR NEED.

PRINCIPLE V: A SUCCESSFUL LEGAL RESEARCHER DISTINGUISHES BETWEEN ETHICAL AND UNETHICAL USES OF INFORMATION, AND UNDERSTANDS THE LEGAL ISSUES ASSOCIATED WITH THE DISCOVERY, USE, OR APPLICATION OF INFORMATION.

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The Principles are broad statements of foundational, enduring values related to skilled legal research, as endorsed by the American Association of Law Libraries.

The Standards provide a set of more specific applications of those norms or habits that demonstrate one’s commitment to and attainment of the principles.

The Competencies are activities that demonstrate knowledge and skill. Competencies provide concrete measures or indicators of successful achievement of the abilities required to meet the standards.

Searching for Concepts

Remember that you can find Concepts when you use Westlaw Headnotes as a part of the Search Process

                                     

REMEMBER THE WESTLAW KEY UNLOCKS KNOWLEDGE!

 

Module 7: CALI Lessons : Assessment Tools : Discussion Forms

Hello,

Forms and Search Queries (CALI Lessons and Assessment Tool)

  • On Lexis Advance, you can find Forms under Content Type and then FORMS.  Then you can filter by state or by Practice Area.

On Westlaw Edge, you can find Forms under Content Types and then FORMS.  Then you have the filter by Forms by State or Forms by Topic.

Both platforms are offering Forms from the materials available on their platforms which means, in all probability, the forms are from different resources.  So while you have both platforms available to you, search for specific forms on both Lexis Advance and Westlaw Edge and analyze the materials received.

  • Remember when you are  searching for forms, do not use the terms “plaintiff” or “defendant” or other general terms.  Use terms that describe the issue at hand.  For example, use “substitution” and “death, ” if you are looking for a motion to substitute the executor of the estate for the deceased plaintiff  in an action that the deceased deceased plaintiff filed to recover a sum of money.

Discussion Forums

One of the features of many bar bar journals or other communications from the bar is the inclusion of  Discipline and Other Regulator Notices.  If they are available to you, be sure to read so that you know who as been disciplined, etc.  Here is a link for the Washington State Bar Journal.  https://wabarnews.wsba.org/wabarnews/june_2020/MobilePagedReplica.action?pm=2&folio=52#pg54

Another place to find out if a member of the bar has been disciplined is the Members’ Directory or Legal Directory or something similar.  These directories are available to the public.  Here is a link to the legal directory on the website of the Washington State Bar Association – https://www.mywsba.org/personifyebusiness/LegalDirectory.aspx

Another feature is that bar journals publish pertinent articles of interest to bar.  First, a question.  Is a Third District Court of Appeals’ decision ever binding on a circuit court (trial court) within the jurisdiction of the Second District Court of Appeals?  Second, an answer. Yes. The article addressing this issue is titled “CONTROLLING JURISDICTION” AND THE DUTY TO DISCLOSE ADVERSE AUTHORITY: FLORIDA’S DISTRICT COURTS OF APPEAL REIGN SUPREME ON MATTERS OF FIRST IMPRESSION by Keith Rizzardi.  https://www.floridabar.org/the-florida-bar-journal/controlling-jurisdiction-and-the-duty-to-disclose-adverse-authority-floridas-district-courts-of-appeal-reign-supreme-on-matters-of-first-impression/

Bye for now.

Module 6: Forum Discussions & Assessment

Hello,

Rule 11 Sanctions:

As you do legal research over the years, you need to be sure the understand the iterative process of legal research and understand the “ins and outs” of all legal or non-legal resources you use – know and understand the content AND know and understand how to access the content and to use the tools that the publisher provides. Remember, that Lexis and Westlaw are platforms that contain thousands of resources, including the all of the University of Miami law reviews, the Florida statutes, treatises by former and current University of Miami faculty members, etc. How you approach these platforms is important.
For example, If you are looking for Florida statutes, remember to “filter” to Florida statutes, before you begin your search.

You need to really look at every screen or print page and understand what features it provides. And, when you see a feature, consider how you will use it. Also, features will be continually changing and you need to need to understand the changes and use them to your advantage. So many times when I am using Lexis, Westlaw, Bloomberg Law, Fastcase, etc., I see a feature that I did not notice or I use a feature that I knew was there but used it a different way!

And, as a heads up, the look and feel of Lexis Advance will be changing the first week of August. So take advantage of the change and take a good relook at Lexis Advance.

And, and, researching need not be a completely solo event. Talk to colleagues, librarians, , etc. about your research and you will, in all probability, get some good tips and insight from those conversations.

Point of Views:

Yes, algorithms are all around us. Our responsibility is to understand how they work so that our searches work with the algorithms. You will need to know how to use the resources that you are provided. You may have access to Westlaw only. Or Lexis only. Or Fastcase only. Or Online Sunshine only. You need to be sure that whichever resource you use, you understand how to use it in the best manner possible and understand how to search efficiently and effectively. It will take some work in the beginning but it will be time well spent. Again, talk to others (see above), including the resources that your resource provides. For example, talk to the Reference Attorneys at Westlaw.

Current Awareness:

The posts are fascinating. As you think where you “go” for news and where “others” go for news, remember when you are working and using your law degree, that you will need to understand what sources your clients. colleagues and supervisors, friends of all ages, etc. use for general and business news. If a major client reads Aviation Weekly, then you may want to take a look and understand what it offers. You may also want to check to see if it available online from a Library. Or find a good blog on aviation. Be creative!

Assessment:

Citators:
Remember that KeyCite and Shepard’s are not just useful for finding out information on the validity of a case!
Also, don’t assume that all citators work alike. There are differences. Be sure that you understand the differences.  Talk to others, including the Reference Librarians.

Westlaw Edge just introduced a new KeyCite feature – Overruling Risk. Be sure you understand this feature works and also, always, always, read all cases involved.
Here is a Westlaw Edge recording https://store.legal.thomsonreuters.com/law-products/ns/westlaw-edge-training-and-support/keycite-overruling-risk

Headnotes:
Headnotes are useful for the following reasons:
1) they are useful to find cases dealing with the same issue.
2) they are useful because when you click on them you are taken to the place in the case where the matter in the Headnote is discussed
3) they allow you to easily find out how other jurisdictions have dealt with the matter in the Headnote.

Do take the opportunity when you are working on your Research Guide to use Headnotes.  Then you will have the knowledge to use them efficiently and effectively in practice.  If you have any questions, please let me know.

Bye for now.

Module 5 : Ad Law : Discussion Forums : Inspector Generals & Administrative Law Judges

Inspector Generals  Inspector Generals from a number of agencies have been in the news.  This question provided you the opportunity to learn more about these positions.  If you would like to keep track of the Inspector General vacancies  – this is a website that you might  monitor.  POGO – https://www.pogo.org/database/inspector-general-vacancy-tracker/

 

Administrative Law Judges  It is important to understand the position of Administrative Law Judge and how they are hired.  Here is link to the Office of Personnel Management which administers the Administrative Law Judge examination through which agencies make competitive service appointments of Administrative Law Judges (ALJ).   https://www.opm.gov/services-for-agencies/administrative-law-judges/

Module 5 : Administrative Law : Assessment Tools

Where can you find an explanation of a final federal regulation which includes summaries of comments submitted and the agency’s response to those comments?  When you are advising a client on how a federal regulation might be interpreted, you may want to review the Agency’s explanation of the final regulation.  You can do so!   All you need to do is find the Federal Register issue which includes the Final Regulation.  Remember, the Final Regulation must be published in an issue of the Federal Register.  There needs to be notice that a regulation is going into effect.  Otherwise, no one would know!  Along with the Final Regulation, you will find the preamble which explains the Agency’s reasoning.

 

 

Module 4 : Constitution, etc. : Forum Discussions : Pigs & Title IX & LII

Florida Constitution  My take away is that sometimes when you assume that you are looking for an on-point statute, you will find instead an on-point constitutional  amendment.   I would not have expected that I would need to research the Constitution to learn more about the confinement of pigs during pregnancy.

TITLE IX  All of the laws passed in the legislature in the same year are arranged  in chronological order and are called session laws.  Session laws are the text of the law as originally passed.  For example, you may hear attorneys refer to Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972.  They are talking about a specific title in the session law, Education Amendments Act of 1972.  You can find Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 in 42 U.S.C. sections 1681-1688.  Generally, the session laws are called Acts when they are passed by the Congress.

Legal Information Institute – Cornell  We believe that everyone should be able to read and understand the laws that govern them, without cost. We carry out this vision by:  1) Publishing law online, for free; 2) Creating materials that help people understand law; 3) Exploring new technologies that make it easier for people to find the law.  From the LII website.   LII is an excellent place to find the U.S. States Code and federal cases.  And adding the Explanation of the Constitution from the Congressional Research Service is a real benefit.   If you use LII a lot, you may want to consider a donation.  The reason that they have ads on the site is because they are not fully funded by Cornell and donors.

 

Module 4 : Constitution, Statutes : Assessment Tools

When you are researching statutes so you always need to use the current version?  This was not a trick question, but you need to remember that you may need to research the statute that was in place at the time of the matter.  For example, if your client committed the crime in 2019, then you need to research the criminal statutes that were enforce at that time.  Also, you need to be sure that all the cases you are considering are interpreting the statute that was enforce at the time of the crime.  And, of course, it you were researching a matter that was dealing with regulations, you again need to be sure that you are relying on regulations that were enforced at the time of the matter.

Module 4 : Constitution, Statutes : CALI Lessons

CALI Codification

CALI Finding Statutes

CALI How to Research Federal Legislative History

  1. CALI Codification 
    1. Citation:  To find to a statute you need to know both the TITLE and SECTION.  For example,  the citation 40 U.S.C. 951 provides you both the title (40) and the section (951) to the United States Code. However, Internal Revenue Code, sec. 325(b)(1) does not give you enough information.  You know the section (325(b)(1) but you do not know the title.  You will need to find out that the IRS title is Title 26 of the United States Code.   You have enough information with 32 USCS 8001.  You have the Title which is 32 and the section which is 8001.  You may wonder what is USCS.  It stands for United States Code Annotated which is the title for the Lexis Annotated Statutes.  USCA stands for the United States Code Annotated which is the title for Westlaw’s statutes.
    2. What is a code?  All the current laws grouped by topic.  Generally, the laws called statutes.
    3. What are session laws?  All of the laws passed in the  legislature in the same year arranged  in chronological order.  It is the text of the law as originally passed.  For example, you may hear attorneys refer to Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972.  They are talking about a specific title in the session law, Education Amendments Act of 1972.  You can find Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 in 42 U.S.C. sections 1681-1688.  Generally, the session laws are called Acts.
  2. CALI Finding the Statutes  
    1. Indexes are extremely useful in finding statutes.  You can find a separate index volumes in the print statutes and you can find them online in Westlaw Edge.  Here is the link to the Index for the Florida Statutes  copy  and paste  Then look at adoption.
      1. Westlaw – Index for Florida Statutes
      2. Many times when you use an index you will find the appropriate statute in a shorter period of time than when you either use a natural language search or a terms, connector, and expander search.
      3. You never know what terms will be used in a statute (homicide, murder, unlawful killing?) so looking in a subject index saves LOTS of time.
      4. The index often provides you a “road map” of the statutes in a specific area. You find all sections on a topic in one place
      5. Usually the best place to start statutory research!

3. How to Research Federal Legislative History 

1. Hearings before house or senate committees may include both        the transcripts of the oral testimony and the written testimony of the witnesses.

2.  Possible Legislative History Documents include bills, floor debates, hearing materials, and Committee Reports. The most important statements during debates are form the chairperson of the congressional committee that considered the bill and from the sponsor of the bill.