Legal Article: The Importance of Legal Research

Legal research is the process of finding and analyzing legal sources to support a legal argument or position. It is an essential skill for all attorneys, regardless of their area of practice./

Legal research can be complex and challenging, but it is also very rewarding. When done well, legal research can help attorneys to:

  • Identify the relevant law and case law
  • Develop strong legal arguments
  • Avoid legal pitfalls
  • Win cases for their clients

Types of Legal Research

There are two main types of legal research: primary and secondary.

  • Primary legal research involves the analysis of original sources of law, such as statutes, cases, and regulations.
  • Secondary legal research involves the analysis of commentary and analysis of the law, such as treatises, law review articles, and legal encyclopedias.

Attorneys often use a combination of primary and secondary legal research to support their arguments.

Where to Find Legal Sources

There are a variety of places where attorneys can find legal sources. Some of the most common include:

  • Law libraries: Law libraries contain a wide range of legal sources, including statutes, cases, regulations, treatises, and law review articles.
  • Online legal databases: There are a number of online legal databases that provide access to a variety of legal sources. Some of the most popular online legal databases include LexisNexis and Westlaw.
  • Government websites: Many government websites provide access to statutes, regulations, and other legal sources.
  • Court websites: Court websites often provide access to case law and other legal documents.

How to Conduct Legal Research

When conducting legal research, it is important to follow a systematic process. Here are some basic steps:

  1. Define your research question. What is the specific legal issue that you are researching?
  2. Identify the relevant legal sources. What types of legal sources do you need to consult to answer your research question?
  3. Find the relevant legal sources. Where can you find the relevant legal sources?
  4. Analyze the legal sources. Once you have found the relevant legal sources, carefully analyze them to determine how they apply to your research question.
  5. Summarize your findings. Once you have analyzed the legal sources, summarize your findings in a clear and concise manner.

Legal Research Tips

Here are some tips for conducting effective legal research:

  • Be specific in your research question. The more specific your research question is, the easier it will be to find relevant legal sources.
  • Use multiple sources. Don’t rely on a single legal source to support your argument. Use multiple sources to confirm your findings.
  • Sherardize your cases.  Sherardizing is the process of checking to see if a case has been cited in subsequent cases. This is important to ensure that your case law is still good law.
  • Keep a research log. A research log is a great way to keep track of the legal sources that you have consulted and your findings. This can be especially helpful if you are working on a complex legal research project.


Legal research is an essential skill for all attorneys. By carefully and systematically conducting legal research, attorneys can develop strong legal arguments and positions, avoid legal pitfalls, and win cases for their clients.