About Legal Research & Writing

All lawyers must learn to research the law and write legal documents; good lawyers know how to research and write efficiently and thoroughly. TeachingLaw.com: Legal Research & Writing provides you with research and writing textbook materials, study aids, links, annotated samples, and interactivity to help you become an efficient and thorough legal researcher and writer.

To use this online book effectively, read the text, click on sample pages, and perform the interactive exercises and quizzes to make sure that you understand the material before you go to class. The study aids provide useful guides, charts, and checklists that summarize the material. The interactive features of the book help to explain the material, provide immediate feedback, and allow you to link directly to research sources and annotated samples instead of simply reading about them in a static textbook. These links are updated twice a year to ensure they are up-to-date.

Legal Research & Writing is organized into three books: Legal Research, Legal Writing, Grammar & Citation.

Legal Research

You will need strong legal research skills no matter what type of legal profession you choose. If you become a practicing attorney, clients will ask you for advice. They might ask whether they can perform some action such as purchase another company or build on a particular piece of land. In these situations, you will need to find the law to answer their questions and provide advice. Clients will also come to you with pre-existing legal problems. They might want to sue someone, for instance, or they might be defendants in lawsuits themselves. Here, you will need to research the applicable law to argue the case on behalf of your clients. Other clients will ask you to draft documents such as contracts or wills. For these clients, you will need to know the applicable law in order to bind the parties to the contract or to distribute your client's estate according to his or her wishes. If you choose a legal profession in which you do not practice the law directly (for instance, teaching), you will need to research the law to prepare for your classes or to publish scholarly articles in your field.

The Research Sources chapter provides an introduction to legal research and the American legal system.  It provides information on primary law and secondary sources and links to those various sources on both the federal and state level so that you can learn about where to find material and simultaneously link to those materials.  The Research Strategies chapter teaches you strategies for finding the law and covers general strategies for research as well as strategies for specific sources.  Here, you will learn how to use the various commercial online platforms, such as Westlaw, Lexis Advance, and Bloomberg Law, as well as free sites and print books.

Legal Writing

Regardless of the type of profession you choose in the law, remember that the legal audience is a doubting audience. A judge will not believe your argument unless you rely on relevant precedent and clearly articulate your arguments. In litigation, the opposing side will use the law to prove the opposing point. A contracts lawyer will argue that your drafted provisions are not legal. A legal scholar will argue that your theories are irreconcilable with other legal positions. Therefore, to be effective in any legal career, you will need to prove every argument you make. To do so, you will need to ground your arguments in the law with clear legal analysis.

The Legal Documents chapter provides information on a variety of documents you will be expected to write in your first year and upper class courses as well other documents you may be asked to draft as a lawyer.  Each section discusses the formal requirements of that particular legal document and provides multiple annotated samples.  The Legal Analysis chapter provides material on the types of legal rules you will encounter, explains the various forms of rhetoric, and discusses jurisprudence and the art of crafting policy arguments. In addition, it explains techniques for statutory interpretation and case analysis and then illustrates how to construct legal analysis in a thorough and logical fashion.  The Writing Process chapter provides techniques for creating a deliberate and efficient process, focusing on writing and rewriting techniques. It also covers professionalism so that you will be prepared when you enter the legal workforce.

Grammar and Citation

The Grammar book provides legal usage and grammar rules and includes quizzes and a self-assessment so that you can learn the nuances of legal grammar in an engaging and interactive interface.

The Citation book is divided into a section on the Bluebook and another on the ALWD Citation Manual.  Each section provides the rules for these citation manuals as well as examples, tricks, interactive quizzes and self-assessments so that you can learn to easily navigate the manuals and present accurate citation in your writing.