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Legal Research Terminology
If you are doing some legal research, or plan on conducting some research with the help of legal aid or a paralegal, it is important to first familiarize yourself with some common terms and definitions used within the field.
Information Retrieval: Information retrieval is an organized methodology for finding documents and finding information within those documents. This includes paper files, databases, and even information on the world wide web. Information retrieval specialists are often hired by firms to aid in researching evidence for a case. An example of an information retrieval system is a search engine from the Internet.
Litigation: Litigation is the act of engaging in the legal process by means of the court. Often, it refers to civil trials rather than criminal ones.
Lexis Nexis: This is a database that is used by individuals seeking information on past and present legal actions. It houses countless articles and transcripts that can by searched by keyword, including court decisions, statutes, law research and review journal publications, and supreme court briefs.
Statute: Statutes are acts of legislature, as opposed to members of the judicial system. It can refer to a specific rule or law, or it can be used to refer to a larger group of acts.
Substantive Law: Substantive law is legislation that establishes the rights and freedoms of the individual. This is as opposed to legislation that mandates how rules will be followed.
Tort: Tort is used to describe a type of civil litigation that does not include some sort of verbal or written contractual obligation.
When lawyers and attorneys need to find out about statistics, litigation findings, and previous rulings, they often turn to legal research professionals for this information. Many times, lawyers don't have the time to do time consuming, yet necessary research for their cases. As a result, many finding and other helpful information remains undiscovered. To best help their clients, lawyers often hire legal research teams to take care of this work for them, freeing up time to concentrate on consulting clients, court hearings, and negotiations. Many websites offer free listings of prescreened legal research professionals, so take advantage of such tools. Legal research can involve researching public records, information from the American Bar Association, divorce proceedings, policy, custody records, forms, banking procedures, business filings, writing litigation, trades, insurance issues, and family relations. Legal research provides a foundation on which data is formed and found, on anything from support and policy, to divorce cases and consulting. It also provides a background from which to support and argue a case. You can find legal research firms and professionals by looking in your local phone book or by searching online directory listings. Go online to research what such professionals provide, typical rates, local legal research consultants in your area, and how such professionals can help you in your own attorney firm, whether you need statistics, previous rulings, or public records. Consider your legal research needs and target your search accordingly. Many legal research statistics can be found for free online, while other sites require a fee to obtain information.