As fall associates settle into the reality of legal practice, I am taking the opportunity to share a variety of research “best practices.” These rules can be applied across all environments: law firm, corporate, public service and government. New associates are facing the messy reality of needing to harness legal and factual issues that need to be addressed in real time an often on tight deadlines. No matter what kind of environment a lawyer is in, I recommend finding a research mentor of some kind. Large and medium sized law firm are likely to have a research team staffed by professional researchers, often with an MLS and/or a JD. Countless benefits can follow from tapping into their expertise to guide your research challenges.
Research has changed dramatically over the past decade as technology has replaced standard print finding tools. Volumes of citators and digests have been supplanted by digital and AI enabled tools of breathtaking wizardry. No matter where an organization is on the technology spectrum the basic “rules” below should ease your research journey.
1. Be certain that you understand the assignment. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. There is no shame in asking for clarification.
2. Just Ask! A popular mnemonic “Just Ask” is used by many library teams to remind lawyers