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LEGAL RESEARCH

By
RUFUS B. RODRIGUEZ

Chapter 1
INTRODUCTION TO LEGAL RESEARCH

A. Legal Research, Defined

It is the process of finding the laws, rules and regulations that govern activities in human
society.

B. The Need for Legal Research

A lawyer is required to provide competent representation to a client. Competent


representation requires the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation
reasonably necessary for the representation. Clearly, a lawyer must be able to research
the law to provide competent representation.

C. Sources of Legal Research

Legal research involves the use of a variety of printed and electronic sources.

Printed sources:
• Constitution
• Statutes
• Court decisions
• Administrative rules
• Scholarly commentaries

Computer databases containing these and other materials have dramatically changed the
nature of legal research and improved its effectiveness.

Sources of Law

Three broad categories:

1. Primary Sources

Those recorded laws and rules which will be enforced by the State:
• Major primary sources: legislative actions, codes and statutes
• Second major category: judicial decisions
• Third primary source: administrative law, or the regulations and decisions of
government agencies

2. Secondary Materials

Publications which are not primary authority but which discuss or analyze legal doctrine
are considered secondary materials:
• Treatises
• Commentaries
• Encyclopedias

3. Finding Tools

Our legislative, executive and judicial branches of government have been enacting and
promulgating codes, statutes, rules, regulations and court decisions and these have grown
into a large body of law. The researcher therefore needs search materials or finding tools
in order to locate these legal sources. Among the finding tools are:
• SCRA Quick Index-Digests
• PHILJURIS
• LEX LIBRIS
Chapter 2
THE LEGAL RESEARCH PROCESS

A. Systematic Approach to Legal Research

Four basic steps are recommended:

1. Identify and analyze the significant facts


2. Formulate the legal Issues to be researched
3. Research the issues presented
4. Update

1. Identify and Analyze the Significant Facts

The TARP Rule is a useful technique to analyze your fcts according to the following
factors:

T – Thing or subject matter


A – Cause of Action or group of defense
R – Relief sought
P – Persons or parties involved

2. Formulate the Legal Issues to be Researched

This is the initial intellectual activity that presumes some knowledge of the substantive
law. The goal is to classify or categorize the problem into general, and increasingly
specific, subject areas and to begin to hypothesize legal issues.

3. Research the Issues Presented

After the facts have been analyzed and the issues have been framed, it is time to begin
researching the first issue:

a. Organize and plan


b. Identify, read, and update all relevant constitutional provisions, statutes, and
administrative regulations
c. Identify, read, and update all relevant case law
d. Refine the search

4. Update

Law changes constantly. Our Congress passes new statutes and modify old ones. Our
Supreme Court either refines the law or reaffirms the law or even changes the
interpretation of the law.
Chapter 3
FUNDAMENTAL RESEARCH SKILL: CASE BRIEFING
AND SYTHESIS OF CASES

A. Case Briefing

A law school case brief is a student’s digest or condensation of a reported case.

There is no one “correct” form for a case brief since it is a document that is created to
meet the student’s needs.

The typical components of a case brief are:

1. Facts – they describe the events between the parties leading to the litigation and tell
how the case before the court that is now deciding it. Include those facts that are relevant
to the issue the court must decide and to the reasons for it decision. You will not know
which facts are relevant until you know what the issue or issues are.

2. Issue(s) – it is the question that the court must decide to resolve the dispute between
the parties in the case before it.

3. Ruling – it is the court’s decision on the question that is actually before it, but if they
do not relate to the question actually before it, they are dicta.

B. Synthesizing Cases

More likely, your research for a problem will turn up many cases relevant to the problem.
In order to use the principles that those cases offer to resolve your problem, you must
relate the cases to each other, that is, synthesize them. In that way, you can understand
the applicable area of law and then use the synthesis to analyze your problem.