Conducting Effective Research During Your Legal Career Skip to main content

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Becoming a legal administrative assistant is a career path unlike any other. Throughout your career, you’ll be responsible for office procedures as well as assisting lawyers in complex areas such as conveyancing, wills and estates and civil litigation. You might also be asked to assist in effective legal research.

As a result, it’s crucial that students pursuing legal administration careers know how to properly conduct, analyze, and present legal research under the direction of a lawyer. And with the right training and support from a caring college, you’ll learn the skills you need to succeed in this rewarding field.

Here’s a look at some of the legal research tricks you’ll learn during your training:

Know the Importance of Creating an Outline

As you’ll soon learn in your courses, the key to good legal research is a good organization. When getting ready to start your research, you should first start by developing an outline. In your outline, you should make sure to lay out the principle issues included in the case, and highlight areas that require more comprehensive research.

Next, you should prepare a research plan. Your legal assistant training will help you identify the key legal issues and search terms you’ll need to cover, allowing you to brainstorm a comprehensive list of keywords, and narrow the focus of your research to the relevant areas of law.

Having a well thought out plan will help focus your research

Having a well thought out plan will help focus your research

Good Sources are the Key to Reliable Research

Finding the right information from the entire body of Canadian law can be a challenge. Luckily, there are a number of databases and libraries you can use to gather material from different sources.

You could start by consulting encyclopedias like Halsbury’s Laws of Canada for a general introduction to a topic. If you need to find more specific information, you can also try searching for law review articles through indexes like The Index to Canadian Legal Literature, which can be accessed through databases such as LexisNexis Quicklaw and WestlawNext Canada. These databases can also be used to search textbooks, legislation, and case law, and can be a valuable resource throughout your legal career.

You can find a number of different sources for legal research

You can find a number of different sources for legal research

Analyze Your Research

Once you have identified relevant sources, the next step is to analyze your research and integrate it into your original outline. You should be on the lookout for previous cases that are similar to your current case, and prioritize more recent decisions over older ones.

Decisions taken from higher courts should also be given more weight, and if you are dealing with a particular statute, you should analyze how the legislation has been applied and interpreted in case law. As you analyze the research you’ve gathered, also try and stay on the lookout for disputed elements or ambiguous points that may be relevant to the case.

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