Legal research

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Legal research is "the process of identifying and retrieving information necessary to support legal decision-making. Legal research_sentence_0

In its broadest sense, legal research includes each step of a course of action that begins with an analysis of the facts of a problem and concludes with the application and communication of the results of the investigation." Legal research_sentence_1

The processes of legal research vary according to the country and the legal system involved. Legal research_sentence_2

Legal research involves tasks such as: Legal research_sentence_3

Legal research_ordered_list_0

  1. Finding primary sources of law, or primary authority, in a given jurisdiction (cases, statutes, regulations, etc.).Legal research_item_0_0
  2. Searching secondary authority, for background information about a legal topics. Secondary authorities can come in many forms (for example, law reviews, legal dictionaries, legal treatises, and legal encyclopedias such as American Jurisprudence and Corpus Juris Secundum).Legal research_item_0_1
  3. Searching non-legal sources for investigative or supporting information.Legal research_item_0_2

Legal research is performed by anyone with a need for legal information, including lawyers, law librarians, and paralegals. Legal research_sentence_4

Sources of legal information range from printed books, to free legal research websites (like Cornell Law School's Legal Information Institute,, Martindale Hubbell or CanLII) and information portals to fee database vendors such as Wolters Kluwer, LexisNexis, Westlaw, VLex and Bloomberg Law. Legal research_sentence_5

Law libraries around the world provide research services to help their patrons find the legal information they need in law schools, law firms and other research environments. Legal research_sentence_6

Many law libraries and institutions provide free access to legal information on the web, either individually or via collective action, such as with the Free Access to Law Movement. Legal research_sentence_7

Databases and software tools Legal research_section_0

Free-to-use Legal research_section_1

Although many jurisdictions publish laws online, case law is often accessed through specialty online databases. Legal research_sentence_8

Free-to-access services, through the free law movement, include: Australasian Legal Information Institute, British and Irish Legal Information Institute, CanLII, Legal Information Institute, and LexML Brasil. Legal research_sentence_9

Google offers a free, searchable database of federal and state case law as part of Google Scholar. Legal research_sentence_10

Commercial Legal research_section_2

Commercial services for legal research include both primary and secondary sources. Legal research_sentence_11

Commercial services can be country-specific, international or comparative. Legal research_sentence_12

As of 2010, commercial legal research tools in the United States generated an estimated $8 billion in revenues per year. Legal research_sentence_13

Some governments also provide access to certain resources through paid databases, such as the United States PACER law system. Legal research_sentence_14

Third-party legal research providers Legal research_section_3

Legal research is known to take much time and effort, and access to online legal research databases can be costly. Legal research_sentence_15

Consequently, with due consideration given to ethical concerns, law firms and other practitioners may turn to third-party legal research providers to outsource their legal research needs. Legal research_sentence_16

See also Legal research_section_4

Legal research_unordered_list_1

Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: research.