Authored by: Candace Whitman
Research is a crucial step in the legal process that can affect the overall outcome of a case. That is why it is so important for lawyers to have strong research skills to find all the information and documents needed to win a case. Jeff Asjes and Brock Foley of Clio provided a few tips for smarter legal research in their blog.
When researching for a case, it can often be helpful to use a variety of sources. According to Asjes and Foley, every database uses a different algorithm to populate relevant results, so using multiple different platforms can give you the opportunity to see a larger variety of results.
Your law firm most likely has a favorite database, such as WestLaw, Fastcase, or LexisNexis, but you may also want to try using Google’s free database, Google Scholar, or check with your Bar Association to see if they give their members free access to a research database.
Another research tip is to start your search broad and then get more specific. In many instances, a broad search may give you thousands of results and getting specific will be essential to narrow it down to exactly what you need. Familiarize yourself with the terms and connectors you can use to tell the database exactly what you want it to find.
For example, Asjes and Foley state that an asterisk at the end of a word acts as a "root expander" in many databases so if you add an asterisk to the end of the word “arrest” it will give you search results that contain that word as well as the words “arresting, arrested, or arrests.”
Be aware that every legal database may have a slightly different terms and connectors so go to the databases help section or search for your favorite databases’ terms and connectors to familiarize yourself with the symbols you can add to your searches to get exactly the results you want.
For more legal research tips and tricks, click here to read Jeff Asjes and Brock Foley’s blog on the subject.