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What are the 4 steps in the legal research process?
- 1. Identify the factual question raised by the client's problem.
- 2. Find the law that applies to the client's factual question.
- 3. Analyze the law as it relates to the factual question.
- 4. Communicate the findings.
What are some of the duties of a researcher?
- 1. Gathering or verifying the facts that raise a legal question.
- 2. Summarizing the facts.
- 3. Drafting legal memoranda.
- 4. Checking citations in legal memos.
- 5. Reviewing legal memos from opposing counsel.
What is federalism?
People are governed by 2 separate governments: the federal government and the respective state government.
Before you begin legal research, what 3 things need to be done?
- Review the factual situation.
- determine whether the factual situation is controlled by federal law, state law, or both.
- Use research materials that contain the proper law.
What is the Supremacy Clause?
When a state passes a law that conflicts with the Constitution, that law is ruled to be unconstitutional and unenforceable by the U.S. Supreme Court.
What are the 4 types of law?
What does constitutional law do?
Establish federal or state government and define its functions and obligations to the people.
Does the U.S. Constitution only apply to the federal government?
Yes, unless the Constitution states that the law applies to the states too.
What is the background of statutory law?
- Statutory law results from federal and state legislative action.
- Laws are then sent to the president or governor for approval.
- After approval, the laws are organized and published in codes.
What are administrative regulations?
Agencies created by legislation to make and enforce rules and regulations at the state and federal level.
What is common law?
A body of law developed through the courts, based on the concept of precedent or stare decisis.
How does common law work?
- Until a factual dispute arises and is resolved in the courts, there is nor rule or law for that factual dispute.
- When there is a dispute it is presented to a judge who decides the case.
- The decision becomes precedent.
- If the same type of factual dispute is presented to a court in the future, the judge follows the decision of the 1st case.
What is precedent?
- A factual dispute needs a rule or law to rule on the dispute.
- Any ruling is based on the previously decided case of the same factual dispute.
What does stare decisis mean in Latin?
"It stands decided."
Can more than 1 primary source of law apply to a factual situation?
- Yes. Courts have the power to interpret:
- The U.S. Constitution
- State Constitutions
- Federal & State codes
- Federal & State administration regulations
What is a primary source?
Any work that contains the law.
What is a secondary source?
A tool that helps you to understand the law.
What is a code book?
A book containing codes or statutes.
What is a case reporter?
A book that contains case decisions or opinions from state or federal courts.
Why is legal citation important?
Because most legal writing is designed to inform or convince and the best way to do that is to show the reader where the ideas originated.