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Minnesota Legal Reference Library
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Legal Reference - Pro Bono & Pro Se

How to Do Legal Research

Resources in this category:
   How to Research a Legal Problem: A Guide for Non-Lawyers (American Association of Law Libraries Legal Information Services to the Public Special Interest Section)
"This guide is intended to help a person with a legal problem find legal rules that can resolve or prevent conflict. It is most useful to work through the steps and sources in the order given."
   Legal Research Flowcharts (Vermont Law School Law Library)
Tired of just reading about how to research and want to look at flow charts? These charts are friendly, even if they emphasize traditional techniques and proprietary services over newer, very handy tools like the one that you're using right now.
   Locating the Law (4th Edition) (Southern California Association of Law Libraries)
For the "non-law librarian." Federal, and California law emphasis but we include it as a general source about conducting legal research.
   Search the Opinions of the U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal - Being Aware of the Limitations! (Legal Information Institute)
Search in all circuits or an individual circuit. To critically evaluate the results you receive, be sure also to read the disclaimer about the scope of the collection of cases available for searching and the inevitable idiosyncrasies and gaps in of web-based case law research, attributable not to the Legal Information Institute but to the failure of the Courts to standardize their opinions for publication and embrace and encourage widespread accessbility of their output..
   The Life of Books: The 21st Century Law Library Conundrum: Free Law and Paying to Understand It by Richard Leiter (February 9, 2010) (The Life of Books)
"Every lawyer knows that having access to all needed primary materials doesn't always help you solve a research question. What's more helpful is a work that interprets the cases and describes the procedures and rules that come from them, or a system that provides you access to only the most important, instructive cases. Books that not only describe, discuss and criticize the laws, but provide practical information about how they are applied, plus forms and examples of practical documents, are the most valuable resources[.]"


"[F]ree free materials ... will amount to only a minor portion of the materials that lawyers need in order to practice law, and the public needs in order to understand it."

Ed. note: The author is director of the law library and professor of law at the University of Nebraska College of Law.

   Wex: Legal Research (Legal Information Institute)
   Harvard Law School Library Legal Research Videos (Harvard Law School Library)
"The videos introduce print-format legal research tools."

When we visited, videos for Secondary Sources, West Digest System, and Statutes were available.

See also:
  • Updating Legal Authorities
  • Similar resources in our Wisconsin Legal Reference Library
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