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Introduction to Legal Research

Series of presentations to teach the fundamentals of legal research.


Judicial opinions, or cases, are written by judges.  Cases decide the issues raised by the parties during litigation.  While trial court orders, memoranda and other documents are becoming more available, typically case law research means locating opinions written by appellate courts whose job it is to decide and settle the law at issue.  The federal courts are composed of the United States Supreme Court, thirteen intermediate appellate courts and numerous district courts, which serve as federal trial courts.  Cases are published in reporters but also found in online databases and on court websites.  

Learning Objectives

The learning objectives for this presentation are the following:

  • Understanding the publication process for cases
  • Using terms and connectors and fields to improve the efficiency and effective of searching
  • Learning about the topical organization of cases into digests and how to use headnotes to locate topically-related cases
  • Using a citator to check if a case is still good law and finding more related cases


Additional Resources

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