Advanced Legal Research(3)

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					                           Advanced Legal Research
                       CRS Milestone 3 - Research Strategy
                            Due: October 23, 2001
GOAL: This milestone is designed to get you started on the process of planning your
research. You really won’t actually be doing the research at this point. I have other
directions for you to follow when the time comes, although there may be a little overlap.
You will, however, be identifying and examining the resources you’ll want to use when
you perform the research. Think of it this way: it’s the difference between planning a
vacation and taking a vacation. You can start imagining what it will be like without
being there yet.

WHAT TO HAND IN: Please use the attached outline to prepare research strategies for
each matter you identified in Milestone 2. In other words, if you have two matters – one
for the statutory and legislative history issue and one for the administrative issue – you
need to complete two research strategies. If you have three matters – one for each type of
research – you need to complete three research strategies. If you’re lucky enough to have
identified a single matter that satisfies the research requirements of the CRS, you only
need to complete one strategy.

You probably want to type these strategies because you’ll be adding to them throughout
the semester. For that reason, I have only designed an outline and not a form. Tip: Try
to print out or download as many results as possible so you don’t have to key in the titles,
etc. yourself. Assign document numbers to each set of results and incorporate them by
reference in the outline of your research strategy.


Part One: Build Your Research Vocabulary

The first step in the process of designing an effective strategy is identifying the terms
you'll use to conduct your search. Once you get deeply involved in a research project,
your mind can get "locked" on the terms you've been using. If you create a vocabulary at
the start of a research project, when your mind is still fresh, you'll have a handy reference
to keep track of what you've searched and to give you new ideas when you get stuck.

       Step 1: Read your cases.
       Step 2: Outline the issues in your cases, using the five fact categories (who,
       what, when, where, why) and the three legal categories (legal theory, relief
       sought, procedure) explained in “Process.”
       Step 3: Use a thesaurus to identify synonyms for your terms and create “wheels”
       or “ladders” for each term. You should probably use both wheels and ladders so
       you can learn which works best for you. Tip - If your word processing program
       has a built-in thesaurus, try to use it to expand your list electronically.
       Step 4: Use one of the legal dictionaries to look up any term you can't easily
       define in a sentence or two.

Part Two: Identify Relevant Secondary Sources: Local Catalog Search

Whether you're in a big or small firm, a corporation or an agency, it's very likely you will
have access to some sort of card catalog that defines the book collection at your
organization's (or your local) law library. Catalogs vary greatly, but there are common
elements. For example, you should be able to search by title, author, publisher, and
subject as well as a Boolean "word" search that will resemble your typical Internet
search, if the catalog is electronic of course.

This is a critical distinction! In most catalogs, the subjects are created with what are
called "Library of Congress Subject Headings." These headings are generated centrally
by the Library of Congress and assigned to books as they are published. A small library
can benefit from this "easy" cataloging so the LCSH designations tend to dominate. Why
should you care? Because LCSH are very hierarchical and require precise searching. For
example, to search for hearings before the House Commerce Committee, you would need
to search for a LCSH that looks like this: "United States - House of Representatives -
Committee on Science, Commerce and Technology - Hearings." This is the “controlled
vocabulary” we discussed in class in action.

Without access to an electronic catalog, this is your only search option. If you have an
electronic catalog, you can usually conduct a word search, which will allow you to
bypass this hierarchy and reach catalog records that contain any terms you want to search
in any order. That means your search for hearings could look like this: house and
commerce and committee and hearings.

GULLiver, the Georgetown Law Library catalog, uses this system of both subject and
word searching functions and this part of the exercise will walk you through a few

       Step 1: Go to the Georgetown University Law Library’s web site
       ( and select the option “GULLiver Catalog”.
       Step 2: Once you connect to the catalog, select the Keywords option and design a
       search that will link you to materials related to the main topic of your cases; i.e.,
       the subject you used to identify your own matters in CRS Milestone 2. Keep a
       record of this search strategy. Explore the results and print, download or write
       down the titles and call numbers of items you want to examine. Don’t forget to
       check the availability option to make sure the books you find aren’t lost or
       checked out.
       Step 3: Look at the exact subject listed at the bottom of the catalog record for one
       of the books that looks most relevant to your issue. Click on that subject to run
       another search of GULLiver that will retrieve additional books on the same
       subject. Record this strategy, review the results, and print, download or write
       down the titles and call numbers of new items you want to examine. Don’t forget
       to check the availability option to make sure the books you find aren’t lost or
       checked out.

       Step 4: Record the relevant range(s) of call numbers for the books of interest.
       You’ll need this information to complete Part Five.

Part Three: Identify Relevant Secondary Sources: National Catalog Search

Even if you find yourself practicing somewhere with an amazing collection, such as the
one at Georgetown’s law library, you may still need information contained in books that
your library doesn’t own. We librarians have been aware of this problem for a long
time, and we created an international system that allows participating libraries to borrow
and loan books to one another. In other words, by cooperating we have opened the entire
collection of library books to the world of researchers. (Aren’t we just nice folks?) This
system is called “Interlibrary Loan” or ILL.

In the old days, you could have a librarian try to find a good book for you or you could
find a reference to a book in some other research resource. The librarian would then
arrange the ILL for you. Librarians still handle part of the ILLs, but you as a researcher
can now search the catalogs of participating libraries on your own and can submit your
ILL request electronically through Georgetown’s new ILLiad system. To obtain books,
you search WorldCat, a huge electronic catalog of all the books catalogued by
participating libraries. When you locate interesting books, you’re asked to identify
libraries that “hold” the title. If the title is a book, you simply complete an online ILL
request form and the library staff borrows the book. You may also use the ILLiad system
to borrow specific articles.

       Step 1: Go to the Georgetown University Law Library’s web site
       ( and select the option Interlibrary Loan. Unless
       you’ve already used the ILLiad system, you’ll need to register so click on First
       Time Users. You’ll be asked to set up a Username and password so just follow
       the directions.
       Step 2: After you submit the registration information, you’ll be connected to the
       main ILLiad menu. Take a quick look at it to understand your options. In the top
       section, you’ll see the main choices you want for research – Request Types. In
       this section, you have the choice of requesting either a single article or an entire
       book or other work. I first want you to locate books so click on Search
       WorldCat to begin.
       Step 3: You’ll have several choices when you reach the WorldCat search screen.
       The default “Search in” is WorldCat so just leave that option as it is. In the
       “Search for” section, you can place your search terms from Part One in many
       fields. I want you to select the following fields:

                  Subject
                  Subject Phrase
                  Title
                  Title Phrase

       Design searches and run them in each field separately. Evaluate and compare the
       results. Did you fare better with the phrase fields? Could you focus your results
       more narrowly with the title field? Ask yourself a variety of questions to ensure
       that you’ve explored all relevant areas of WorldCat.
       Step 4: Record the results of your searches and save, electronically or in writing,
       the search strategies you used throughout your session. If you see any great
       books, you should order them now through ILL so they’ll be here when you
       start your actual research in a few weeks. It can take that long to get the books
       so start now.

Part Four: Identify Relevant Articles: Periodical Indexes

For this part of the exercise, I want you to explore the periodical indexes for articles
about your issues. You don’t need to retrieve the articles at this point; you’re just
gathering information about the scope of relevant information out there.

       Step 1: Go back to main WorldCat screen and change the “Search in” option to
       ArticleFirst. Repeat the searches from Part Three to locate articles on point.
       Step 2: Go back to Georgetown Law Library home page, scroll down to the
       section on “Periodical Research” and select Guide to Legal Journals. From that
       page, click into the Index to Legal Periodicals and the Legal Resource Index
       (separately). Design searches, using the terms you generated in Part One, to find
       potentially relevant articles. Record the results.

Part Five: Identify Relevant Secondary Sources: Search the Shelf (SOS)

Serendipity plays a surprising role in legal research. You may be wandering through a
library collection and see the perfect book sitting on the shelf. Sometimes a visual
examination of the materials will help you zero in on what you need more quickly than a
thorough analysis of the catalog records. One caveat: In a library with a poor circulation
system (this is pretty typical in most law firms), the best books are probably sitting in the
offices of senior partners, not on the shelves in the library. For this reason, you should
not rely on SOS as your sole search of the collection.

       Step 1: For the purpose of this exercise, you’ll simply need the range of call
       numbers you identified in Part Two. Walk to that part of the Georgetown
       collection and scan the shelves for interesting titles.
       Step 2: List the titles and call numbers of interesting materials if they don’t
       already appear on your list.

Part Six: Assess Your Search Results

You may conduct thorough research and still find some holes in your resources. The less
obvious materials can easily slip through the cracks. For example, if you were working
on a construction matter, the searches described above would yield lots of materials on
construction law, however, it’s unlikely they would point you toward the Restatement of
Contracts or the Restatement of Property, both of which could be very useful.

        Step 1: At this stage, you should analyze the results of your searches to determine
        whether you have located all types of potentially relevant material including:
            Specialized Dictionaries
            Encyclopedias (General legal and/or subject-specific)
            Periodical Indexes
            ALRs
            Restatements
            Treatises
            Looseleaf Services

        Step 2: Repeat any or all the searches you conducted earlier to fill in the missing
        items. Narrow the searches to locate the specific materials you need.

2001, Ellen M. Callinan
CRS Milestone_Strategy (# CRS03)

                           Advanced Legal Research
                               CRS Milestone 3
                  Suggested Outline for The Research Strategy
                            Due: October 23, 2001

Your Name:


A.      Factual Categories


B.      Legal Categories

        Legal Theory
        Relief Sought

C.      Terms

Place your ladders and wheels here.


A.      Catalog Searching
For each of the following categories, list the title of the tool, the search strategy or
strategies you used, and the results of your search.

1.      Local Catalog
        Title: GULLiver
        Search Strategies
        Titles and Call Numbers of Materials Identified

2.      National Catalog
        Title: WorldCat
        Search Strategies
        Titles and Call Numbers of Materials Identified

3.      Periodical Searching
        Titles: Current Law Index; Index to Legal Periodicals; Legal Resource Index
        Search Strategies

       Titles and Cites of Articles Identified

4.     Search on Shelf
       Title: Not applicable
       Search Strategies
       Titles and Call Numbers of Materials Identified

B.     Secondary Sources

For each of the following categories, list the title and call number of the book and the
method you used to locate it.

1.     Specialized Dictionaries

2.     Encyclopedias (General legal or subject-specific)

3.     ALRs

4.     Restatements

5.     Treatises

6.     Looseleaf Services


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