Conducting thorough research is one of the most vital skills for any paralegal. It impacts your ability to deliver accurate information at the right moment whenever you are called upon to do so by the parties involved.
If your research is not efficient, no doubt, it won’t be effective. Here are a few legal research tips that can help increase your efficiency and improve the quality of the data you present to your team.
Outline the Key Issues
Outlining the most important areas surrounding a case is vital before commencing your legal research. It will make your inquiry more efficient and effective, allowing you to deliver accurate information all the time.
Defining the facts involves identifying parties to the case, pinpointing locations, establishing the order of events, and recording any damages caused. This allows you to consider the perspective of the opposing attorney and counter any arguments presented. And since each case has a distinct legal remedy, you should also research the appropriate statutes and laws.
Dig Into the Deep Web
Legal research goes beyond using the usual top search engines such as Google and Bing. After all, these platforms use algorithms that only scratch the surface of the web. Moreover, the information obtained from these search engines also varies in quality.
You should therefore dig into the deep web by exploring legal databases and websites such as Bloomberg Law, LexisNexis, and Westlaw. These sites offer high-quality results as they contain data from previous cases and various levels of government.
Gather Insights From Social Media
Never doubt the power of social media. Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest can be invaluable sources of information.
They are vital, particularly when researching an individual’s bio, business interests, professional connections, political or religious beliefs, and social activities.
Moreover, the information on social media is easily searchable even if a profile is set to private. Whether you are pursuing a claim or defending a client, you can get the data you need quickly and effortlessly.
Use Advanced Searches
The easiest way to filter your search engine results is by using advanced searches. The essence of advanced search options is to deliver data relevant to your inquiry.
Whether you are looking for audio, videos, PDF documents, or spreadsheets, you can search for information based on various parameters such as file type, date ranges, courts, and locations.
Use Reliable Sources
The internet hosts millions of websites, meaning you are guaranteed to get whatever you are looking for.
However, each site has its version of a particular topic, and when the info reaches a second or third party, there’s a high chance of it getting distorted or lost in translation.
As a paralegal, it is always a great idea to use expert sources when conducting legal research. Ideally, consider using primary sources such as scientific journals, business association publications, and legal databases since they are more reliable.
Take a Break
Conducting legal research can be physically and mentally exhausting, especially if it involves searching through volumes of information. As such, it can be easy for paralegals to miss or misinterpret vital data or even overlook facts.
Taking a break after every research process allows you to absorb and understand the data while providing a fresh perspective of the insights gathered.
Research Until the Last Moment
Even though legal research can be exhausting, never tire in your quest to unearth crucial information. Ideally, your research should continue until the very last possible moment. Some paralegals give up along the way, subsequently compromising the strength of a case.
Constant research ensures you do not miss anything and whatever information you obtain remains up to date. The evidence presented to the court or client must be current to avoid discrepancies during the trial.
Verify All Information
Even though information from expert sources is usually credible, do not trust everything you come across on the web.
The internet is full of old and outdated information, and some websites may fail to update their data. For this reason, it is important to verify all information during your legal research.
The only ideal way to hone your legal research skills is through practice. Indeed, it might take time before you grasp everything, but once you get a hold of it, you’ll be able to deliver quality results every time.