January 12, 2014

Legal Research.

Legal research skills are a vital ability that I will have to carry long through my legal studies and in to my career as a legal professional.  If I can conduct proficient and capable research, it will mean time better spent acting and advocating for my clients.

The reading for week’s eight and nine was from the textbook: A Practical Guide to Legal Research.

Chapter 1 of the textbook discusses legal problem solving and different methods to research the problem I may be facing.  In particular, it mentions a five step method (MIRAC), which is as follows:
1.              Identify the relevant or Material facts of the case;
2.              Identify the legal Issues at hand;
3.              Identify and interpret the Rules that govern the legal issues;
4.              Apply the rules to the facts; and
5.              Conclude.[1]

The information then covers several different methods of research, in particular, online research.  To be completely honest, I found the technical and online research aspects of the reading somewhat overwhelming.  There was a lot of instructional information that went over my head.  But, I am sure that these research skills and techniques are something that with plenty of practice throughout my studies I will become well acquainted with and I can definitely appreciate that it is extremely useful and will be referred to over the course of my degree.  So far, I have found AustLII and LawCite to be of great assistance in the locating of legislation and cases for my assignments this semester, and I am excited to venture in to many other online research services with the help of this text book.

I have to admit that I am ashamedly relieved to be living in this era of online technology.  I cannot imagine how much time would have previously been spent sifting through shelves upon shelves of legislation, cases and journals in the name of the legal research.  But even still, there are many things to be aware of and keep in mind when conducting research.  Even when locating relevant legislation, it is paramount to make sure that the Act I am referring to is up-to-date, that it has actually commenced, that it is relevant to the period of time of the incident I am researching, whether there have been any amendments made, whether there are any pending amendments, that I understand the purpose or meaning of the particular Act and whether there has been any judicial consideration of the legislative provision.[2]

One point that stood out to me as something I need to work on is being able to clearly state the legislative framework that a legal scenario would be included.[3]  This is certainly an area I will need to do more research and learning in.

The research that I have had to undertake up to this point I have found to be reasonably simple, but I am sure it will become more complex and complicated, and I look forward to sharpening my skills as a competent legal researcher.

[1] Sue Milne and Kay Tucker, A Practical Guide to Legal Research (Thomson Reuters (Professional) Australia Limited, 2010) 9.
[2] Ibid. 53.
[3] Ibid 88.