legal documents online free

Document Sample
legal documents online free Powered By Docstoc
					                ONLINE LEGAL RESEARCH (Course # 468)
                        Western State University College of Law
                               2008 Summer Session A

                Class times: May 20, 21, 22, 27, 28, 29 -- 6:30-9:45 PM
                       Final assignment due: June 3, 10:00 PM

                Dan Blackaby (, 714-459-1174)
                    Scott Frey (, 714-459-1171)


[Note: The syllabus is subject to revision. Announcements of any revisions will be made
on the course website.]

I.     Course Description and Goals

The course is an extension of what you have learned in Professional Skills courses
regarding online legal research. You already know the basics of legal research. This
course will help you become a more efficient and effective online legal researcher.

In the first two classes, we will cover strategies and techniques for online legal research –
such as planning the research in advance and constructing terms-and-connectors queries –
and then apply these lessons to research on LexisNexis and Westlaw. In the third class,
we will cover other databases to which our library subscribes (such as HeinOnline,
LegalTrac, and BNA). In the fourth and fifth classes, we will cover online resources
available through our library and other libraries (such as CSUF), and free online
resources (such as Thomas, FindLaw, and Justia). In the sixth class, we will review how
the ideas and resources from the first five classes can help in your research.

[Note: We will include some California resources in this course. The course on
California legal research later this summer will explore those resources in greater detail
and cover additional California online (as well as print) resources.]

This course does not demand that you become an expert in researching on LexisNexis,
Westlaw, or other databases or websites. However, it does require that you use
unfamiliar strategies, techniques, and resources. (For example, though you may be
familiar with keyword searching, we want you to try terms-and-connectors or Boolean
searching. Though you may be familiar mainly with legal research on a few LexisNexis
databases, we want you to try Westlaw, other databases on LexisNexis, and other online

Our goal is that you take the strategies, techniques, and resources from this course;
continue improving your skills and knowledge while in law school; and then use these
skills and knowledge in your career after law school.
Online Legal Research                                    Western State University College of Law
                                                                        Summer Session A 2008

II.     Course Materials

There is no textbook in this course. Course materials will be databases to which WSU
subscribes (which you can access on- or off-campus); websites and documents available
to view for free online; and documents posted on the course website (on Westlaw's
TWEN) or handed out in class. The instructors will post announcements on the course
website whenever new documents or links are added to the website.

III.    Assignments and Grading

After each of the first five classes, a 10-question assignment will be handed out and also
posted on the course website. Each of these five assignments is worth 10% of the grade.
The assignments are designed for completion in less than one hour. Each assignment
includes a bonus question, to allow a student to make up for one incorrect answer (if any)
earlier on the assignment. Each assignment must be turned in by the start of the next

After the sixth class, we will hand out an assignment that integrates many of the concepts
and resources of the course. This final assignment is worth 50% of the grade. The final
assignment is designed for completion in approximately 3-4 hours. It must be turned in
by Tuesday June 3, 2008, at 10 PM.

Students must work independently from each other on all assignments. A student may
ask either the instructors or other reference librarians in the library for help. Be aware
that librarians are there to help you, not to do the work for you. If you are unsure about
the rules regarding collaboration, please consult the WSU Student Handbook.

Late submission of any assignment will not be accepted, except where the student is
excused per the Student Handbook (see below). The assignment should be submitted via
the Assignment Drop Box on the course website. (If the drop box is not working, the
student may email the assignment to both instructors; or, if email is not working, may
print and submit the assignment to a WSU library staff member.)

Attendance and participation are required in each class. A student who does not attend at
least five of the six classes will receive a failing grade, unless special arrangements are
made per Section 5.12 of the Student Handbook. (For absence during the period for
completing the final assignment, see Section 9.3 of the Student Handbook.) Otherwise,
there is no grade attached to attendance and participation in class. However, failure to
participate in each class will make it more difficult to do the research well and to score
well on the assignments.

IV.     Availability of Instructors

Dan Blackaby typically works at the library from Monday through Thursday, while Scott
Frey's usual schedule is Tuesday and Thursday through Saturday. One or both of them

Online Legal Research                                     Western State University College of Law
                                                                         Summer Session A 2008

will be available for "electronic office hours" via Live Discussion on the course website
from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM prior to each day's class session. Other office hours may be
arranged by appointment.

V.      Use of Laptop Computers

Students may use a laptop computer in class, but only for class purposes. (We can assure
you that email, Facebook, fantasy sports, etc. will still be online after each class is over.)
Since the classes will meet in the computer classroom, students who do not bring a laptop
computer can use a desktop computer.

VI.     Class Schedule and Topic Outline

1.      Tuesday, May 20, 2008

        A.      Introduction to course
        B.      Research strategies
        C.      Research techniques
        D.      Using research strategies and techniques on LexisNexis and Westlaw

2.      Wednesday, May 21, 2008

        A.      Useful databases and features on LexisNexis
        B.      Useful databases and features on Westlaw
        C.      Using LexisNexis and Westlaw (continued)

3.      Thursday, May 22, 2008

        A.      Overview of other subscription databases
        B.      HeinOnline
        C.      LegalTrac
        D.      Index to Legal Periodicals
        E.      CCH Internet Research Network
        F.      BNA Web

4.      Tuesday, May 27, 2008

        A.      Overview of free online resources
        B.      Identifying reputable online resources
        C.      Library catalogs
        D.      Legal research guides and directories
        E.      Legal and non-legal search engines

Online Legal Research                                    Western State University College of Law
                                                                        Summer Session A 2008

5.      Wednesday, May 28, 2008

        A.      Government websites
        B.      Non-government legal websites
        C.      Legal blogs
        D.      New legal websites

6.      Thursday, May 29, 2008

        A.      Using multiple online and offline resources for a legal research project
        B.      Conclusion to course


Shared By: