Legal Research Techniques-Robin Schard

Legal Research Techniques

Law 151AS/AW
Spring 2014
Course Web Site:

Robin Schard
Office D-138
Class Schedule     Course Description and Requirements     Sample Research Journal Entry

Class Schedule

January 16

Introduction to Course
Register for TWEN
What Research Skills Should Law Students Develop?
Reading: AALL Legal Research Competencies
Powerpoint: Introduction (pdf)
Library Web Page
Library Catalog
Subscription Databases

Huka Falls
January 21

Evaluating Information
Refresher: Evaluating Web Sites (flash)
Boilerplate: a technological milestone
Dog Island
World Trade Organization (

DomainTools (
Urban Legends & Folklore or
Scout Report (
Places to complain about fraud:
     Internet Fraud Complaint Center (FBI & National White Collar Crime Center)
     National Fraud Information Center
     SEC Complaint Center (corporate, consumer or mail fraud)
     FTC Consumer Complaint Form (trade, retail, consumer fraud)
     Florida Division of Consumer Services

Make-up for April 22

Evaluating Authority (Listen to Recording)
Exercise: Evaluating Authority (Due in-class on 1/23)

January 23 General Online Searching Techniques
Powerpoint: Online Search Techniques (pdf)
Popular Connectors (pdf)

January 28-February 4

Secondary Sources: The Basic and the Practical
Refresher Recordings:
The Process of Legal Research (06:32)
How and When to Use Print Sources (08:56)
Secondary Sources Part I (15:00)
Secondary Sources Part II (flash)
Reading: Nutshell Chapters 2 and Sections 3-6 and 7-6
Handout: Exercise on Secondary Sources
Due: Topic Selection for Pathfinder (2/4)
Subject Guide to Treatises
Hein Online
Making of Modern Law
Index to Legal Periodicals
SSRN (working papers)

February 6 -11

Constitutions and Statutes
Reading: Nutshell Chapter 4
Exercise: Sign-up for statutes research practicum (2/13) (Sign-up sheet will be available on TWEN on 2/13 - after class)
Powerpoint: Statutory Research (pdf)
Florida Senate Calendar (Session Dates Description and 2013 dates)
Online Sunshine (FL Statutes, Constitution, Laws)
Florida Statutes (from FL Senate - with bills, etc.)
Sunshine Statutes
American Law Sources Online (for material from other states)
U.S. Code (Fdsys)
U.S. Code (LII)
Hein Online

Powerpoint: Constitutions
Constitution of the United States: Analysis and Interpretation (from GPO provides basic description and leading cases for each section)
Founders' Constitution (text plus supporting documents on understanding the history of each clause)
Century of Lawmaking (from the Lib. of Cong. includes Farrand's Records and other original documents)
The Federalist Papers (Avalon Project at Yale)
State Constitutions (from Constitution Society)
Florida Historical Legal Documents

February 13-18

Case Law Research
Reading: Nutshell Chapter 3
Citation of Unpublished Opinions
Refresher Recording: Case Law Research
Powerpoint: Case Law (pdf)
Due: Research Journal Entry (2/18)
State Court Structure (National Center for State Courts)
Google Scholar

Fastcase (also on Hein)
U.S. Courts
State Court Web Sites (National Center for State Courts)
Federal Judicial Center
Robing Room (Comments on judges)
Miami-Dade County Judicial Poll Results
FL Supreme Court Briefs and Opinions

February 20

New Legal Research Sources: Bloomberg Law
Due: Secondary Sources Exercise (2/20)

February 25-27

Administrative Law
Reading: Nutshell Chapter 6
Handout: Exercise on Administrative Law
Powerpoint: Administrative Law (pdf)
United States Government Manual
A-Z List of Gov't Departments & Agencies (federal)
Code of Federal Regulations (FDsys) (comments and dockets)
Hein Online
Federal Administrative Decisions, etc
State Administrative Codes & Registers
Florida Adminstrative Code & Weekly
Due: Draft Overview to your Pathfinder (required) (3/7)

WPA Poster
March 10-14

Spring Break

March 18-20

Legislative History
Reading: Nutshell Chapter 5
Handout: Exercise on Legislative History
Due: Administrative Law Exercise (3/20)
Powerpoint: Federal Legislative History
Congressional (Proquest)
Hein Online
Legislative Histories of Selected U.S. Laws on the Internet
Florida Legislative History (FL Senate, 1998-2010)
Selected Florida Staff Analysis (1971-1997)
Florida, Current Session(s)
Florida Legislative History Research Guide

March 25

Research Strategy
Reading: Nutshell Chapter 1
Powerpoint: Research Strategy (pdf)
Research Guide: Integrated Research Strategy

March 27

Fact-Finding, Interviewing
Reading: Choose one of the articles in the Additional Readings section of the TWEN page.
Reading: Adam J. Post, Advice for Your First Client Interview, Law Trends & News (Fall 2009).
Reading: Jim Calloway, The Initial Client Interview, Oklahoma Bar Association (2002).
Due: Encyclopedia Section for Pathfinder (required) (3/27)

April 1

Looseleafs and other Topical Sources
Reading: Nutshell Chapter 8
Powerpoint: Looseleaf Sources (pdf)
BNA Subscriptions
Environmental Law Reporter
Tax Resources

April 3

Government Documents and Agency Materials
Due: Legislative History Exercise (4/3)
Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress
Bureau of Justice Statistics
Bureau of Labor Statistics
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Daily Compilation of Presidential Documents
Department of Labor

Department of State
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
Florida Department of Law Enforcement
Library of Congress
National Institutes of Health
OpenCRS (Congressional Research Service Reports)
Public Papers of the President
Small Businss Administration
Statistical Abstract of the United States
Uniform Crime Reports
U.S. Census Bureau
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
U.S. Food and Drug Administration

April 8

Verdicts, Settlements, Court Rules & Citators
Reading: Nutshell Chapter 7
Federal Rules of Practice and Procedure
FL Rules of Court Procedure

April 10

Florida and State-Specific Legal Research
Last day for pathfinder drafts (optional) (4/11)
Uniform Law Commission (unannotated)
Hein Online
50-State Surveys
Florida Law Weekly (description)
The Florida Bar
     Florida City-County-Circuit Listing
Florida Bar LOMAS
Florida Bar - General Practice Solo and Small Firm
Municode (municipal ordinances or codes)
Miami-Dade Public Library System
Florida Government Information Locator
11th Judicial Circuit (Clerk of Court)
Florida Professional Liability (Office of Insurance Regulation) (malpractice claims)

April 15

Search Engines and Online Techniques
Search Engine Showdown
Search Engine Land
Recommended Search Engines
Most Dangerous Search Engine? (Wired article about Shodan)
Internet Archive (books, music, video, archive)
Ask, Bing, ChaCha, Dogpile, DuckDuckGo, Ixquick, ipl2, GoodSearch, Mahalo, RadioSearchEngine, Spezify, Topsy, WolframAlpha, Yahoo, Yippy, Zuula, Technorati

April 17

Researching Non-Legal & Business Resources
Daily Business Review
Public Records Online (search property records)
Sunbiz (Florida Division of Corporations)
Florida Secured Transaction Registry
UM Libraries Business Sources Guide (other business databases)
SEC (public company filings)
Miami-Dade Public Library System
Howjsay pronunciation dictionary
Tasa Group
Expert Pages (self-identified experts)
Federal Bureau of Prisons Inmate Locator (current and released former inmates)
FL Department of Corrections (current inmates in FL prisons)

April 22

No Class Link to permanent course page

April 23 Final Pathfinder due by 11:59pm.
Please put it in the Assignment Drop Box on TWEN, e-mail it to me, or turn it in to me directly.
Last update: 4/17/2014