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Introduction to Legal Research

Series of presentations to teach the fundamentals of legal research.


Legal research is the search for all primary, binding authority that resolves the legal issues presented by the legal problem.  Primary authority is that authority created by a governmental body.  It includes cases, statutes, regulations, constitutions among other laws.  Primary authority that a governmental body is required to follow is called binding, or mandatory authority.  When primary authority does not bind a governmental actor, it is called persuasive authority.  In addition to primary authority, there is secondary authority.  These include law review articles, practice treatises and legal encyclopedia articles among others.  Secondary authority is always persuasive authority and never mandatory authority.  Researchers can use the knowledge of the publication of law to simplify their legal research.  

Learning Objectives

The learning objectives for presentation are the following:

  • Knowing the goals of legal research
  • Understanding that legal research is an analytical process that requires knowledge of the law and legal institutions, the law they generate, and the resources that contain that law
  • Understand the difference between Primary and Secondary authority as well as Binding and Persuasive authority and when to use them while researching legal issues
  • Being aware of the techniques of legal publication and how to use those to simplify research and build confidence in research results.


Additional Resources

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