Do you like to look up to things on the internet or research things like history, science or other topics? If so, then you may be able to transition this passion for researching into a successful career. Many paralegals conduct a lot researching as part of their daily work. It may involve researching case law, statutes, insurance claims, title searches, criminal backgrounds, and the list goes on.
Legal research is the process of researching authority to solve a legal issue. The most common sources of authority are prior case decisions, statutes, and regulations. But how and where do you begin your legal research? Before you start researching you must understand the legal issue. It is rare that you only have one issue. After you sort out your facts, you may have 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.
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 involves an issue that has never been previously decided by the court.
Legal researching can be very interesting and fun! Learning how to research is a skill taught in the AIPS paralegal certificate program that will help you achieve a fulfilling career in the legal field.