Nada Khirdaji, a partner in the Research Department of Osler’s Toronto office, focuses her practice on legal research. Sounds familiar to me. Ms. Khirdaji shares some of her suggestions for effective legal research in this article (link here) included in CCH’s January, 2010 Law Student Monthly column. She covers many excellent points – all focused on providing the researcher plumbing a new area of law with the world-view first and the finer points second. Her suggestions include: avoiding the case law databases as a first step and turning instead to general resources and texts; reading all cases cited in the notes; assuming application of a statute until proven otherwise, and performing a thorough review of the statute’s structure, location, table of contents and index; reviewing predecessor sections of statutes, related statutes from other jurisdictions and similar provisions in other statutes; avoiding journal articles for practical legal research; and, using firm-specific resources and consult ing colleagues.
Really, all very good advice. However, the suggestions seemed penned by an attorney from the 20th Century. Here in the 21st Century, there is another, important means for achieving a broad, world-view that Ms. Khirdaji omits. Consider looking at all available on-line resources as well, including the newly-fortified Google search, book searches, semantic search engines, and other curated legal databases and resources. Consider crafting your own custom search engines of pertinent governmental agency websites using Google Custom Search. Use the deep web search engines to find unconventional web documents. You never know what you may find.