How will your paralegal certification help in representing your client?
Learning to research as part of your paralegal certification
Spot the legal issue and you’re on your way in the paralegal certification journey
You might be wondering what our students are studying this week in Legal Research as part of their paralegal certification program? The answer is how to begin their research. Before you start researching you must know the legal issue that needs to be researched. It is rare that you only have one issue. After you sort out your facts, you will probably find yourself having to research more than one issue. Your overall research goal is to find legal support for your client’s case. To achieve this goal, you want to find cases on point and cases that are mandatory authorities. To help find topics that shed light on your subject, it is helpful to make a list of all relevant legal terms and phrases, as well as their synonyms, before beginning the research process. This is one of the many skills that graduates with their paralegal certificate or paralegal certification learn to do in their legal research course.
A case on point is a previous case involving a similar fact pattern and legal issue(s) to your case at hand. Hopefully, the case on point is in your favor too!! If it is a state case, then you want to look for cases on point decided by your state appellate and/or supreme court or the U.S. Supreme court since these cases carry the most mandatory authority. If it is a federal case, then you want to look for cases on point decided by the appellate district court or U.S. Supreme court. If you can’t find a case on point, your facts may be a case of first impression which is a case involving an issues that has never been decided by the court before.
Another helpful research tool, that we teach in the paralegal certification program, like TAPP or TARP is the 5W and H method. 5H and H stands for Who, What, Where, Why When and How. It is a useful tool for gathering information and other related purposes. It can be used whenever you have to interview a client or witness or investigate a scene. Once you use this method often enough, it will become “second nature” to you when interviewing clients and/or witnesses or preparing cases for trial. This is when your employer will really appreciate your paralegal certification!!
To find out more information on paralegal certification and the American Institute for Paralegal Studies Legal Research course visit the curriculum page of the AIPS website.