Legal Research, Writing, and Analysis are perhaps the most powerful tools of a lawyer. On the other hand, oral communications skills and skills in debate and argumentation inside the courtroom are merely secondary. The reason for this is that the case could be won right from the moment the lawyer is preparing his legal documents, such as his case brief or a memorandum, without the necessity of going to the trial proper.
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Legal Research, Writing, and Analyses are useful not only for lawyers but for non-lawyers as well. Paralegals may be able to apply these skills in the preparation of their legal opinions or in writing simple demand letters to their clients. It is, therefore, important for lawyers and even non-lawyers to be skilled in this art and science. Because of the importance of preparing legal research, writing, and analysis, law schools have integrated this subject in their curriculum.
Though it may be true that there is no rule that will make non-lawyers and lawyers experts on this subject, it is possible for every law student and lawyer to be able to develop these skills by following several simple steps:
The first step will be to read and analyze the problem. A researcher must first read the facts carefully for him to gain an understanding of the subject matter and the issues involved.
Once the facts have been read and understood, the second step will be to browse some possible sources to have a complete understanding of the issues involved and to have knowledge of the existing cases and statutes that deal with the same problem. The researcher is also expected to familiarize himself with the existing court system from the time the complaint is filed in court until a judgment has been rendered with finality by the highest court. If, for example, the issue is about the employer-employee relationship, the researcher is advised to refer to the Indexes of Law Journals, Law Reviews, Digests, loose-leaf services and Encyclopedias and to look for keywords such as employer-employee relationship. He may also refer to electronic sources such as the Internet and the CD-ROM to browse the necessary information on the subject.
The third step is for the researcher to make a list of the arguments involved in the case, the particular cases which have the same or similar facts, the statutes that may be applied and the legal principles involved in the controversy.
The researcher is now ready to make an extensive research on the case law of the problem. He can now read in detail the cases he gathered. It bears stressing that following the principle of Stare Decisis, use of Shepard’s citation is very important since past court decisions are used to give strength to an argument. He may also refer to various laws that deal with the problem such as the Constitution and other legislative enactments. Secondary sources such as treaties and regulations issued by administrative agencies may be used as references. The researcher must be very cautious and he must ensure that the case law cited is still a good law and has not been repealed nor superseded by recent court decisions or new laws.
After the necessary legal materials have been gathered, the researcher is now ready to prepare his draft. By merely following these simple steps, the researcher is expected to produce a well researched, well-written and well-prepared legal work.
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