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Learn the Library

This guide contains resources for learning how to use NCU Library and accessing its resources.

Legal Databases - JD Program

Lexis+ 

JFK College of Law Students Only - Password protected

Westlaw Edge

JFK College of Law Students Only - Password protected

FastCase

University Password: 9-digit student ID and 6-digit birthdate

CEB / OnLaw

University Password: 9-digit student ID and 6-digit birthdate

Library Services

The Library offers the following Legal Research Services to JFK College of Law Students

  • Live Legal Research Training Workshops - Check back for a full listing of offerings!
  • Recorded Tutorials and Library Guides
  • Personalized one-to-one Legal Research Training Consultations 
    • Go over strategies to locate legal information for your topic/assignment
    • Book with Legal Specialist Librarians Jamie Diermier or Sherry Mohr.

Note: Librarians cannot provide legal advice, including how to analyze materials or what conclusions to draw from the resources; we can only point you to the resources - from there, inquire with your professor for help with analysis. 

 

Mark Your Calendar: Upcoming ASC / Library Orientations

Go to the scheduler here: 

September

1st Thursday: September 3, 2020

3rd Sunday: September 20, 2020

October: 

1st Thursday: October 1, 2020

3rd Sunday: October 18, 2020

January

1st Thursday: January 7, 2021

3rd Sunday: January 17, 2021

February

1st Thursday: February 4, 2021

3rd Sunday: February 21, 2021

Getting Started

Legal Research in 4 Steps

STEP 1: PREPARE

  • Read carefully what you’ve been given
  • Analyze the facts and legal issues. Assess what you know and what you need to learn.
  • Note the jurisdiction and any primary law you have been given
  • Search Terms: Brainstorm possible keywords and phrases

 

STEP 2: USE SECONDARY SOURCES TO LEARN ABOUT YOUR ISSUE

Legal Dictionaries: 

Legal Encyclopedias:

American Law Reports: ALR articles, called annotations, provide background, analysis, and citations to relevant cases, statutes, law review articles, and other annotations. 

Treatises--books on legal topics--are a good place to begin your research or find an answer to a question, and will help you save time by providing explanation, analysis, and tips on the most relevant primary sources. Some examples include Practice Guides: Continuing Education for the Bar (CEB), found on OnLaw, and The Rutter Group (TRG) Practice Guides, found on Westlaw. Other resources include Nutshell series, Hornbooks, and Nolo Press publications. 

Law review or journal articles are valuable for the depth in which they analyze and critique legal topics, as well as their extensive references to other sources, including primary sources.

  • In addition, many of the major databases used for primary law research can also be used for secondary source research, such as HeinOnline, Lexis, and Westlaw. 

Restatements are highly regarded distillations of common law: they restate existing common law into a series of principles or rules.

  • Restatements on LexisNexis
  • Restatements on Westlaw

Remember: Secondary sources are NOT the law itself; they can be used to persuade, educate and provide context when making a legal argument, but you must always provide PRIMARY LAW sources: Cases, Regulations, Statutes, or Constitutions. 

 

STEP 3: FIND PRIMARY AUTHORITY

 
  • Use secondary sources to find primary sources (legislation, important cases, statutes, constitutions, etc).

STEP 4: UPDATE & ANALYZE YOUR PRIMARY SOURCES

 

READ the law, whether it be a case, regulation, statute, etc.

  • Determine which law is RELEVANT & BINDING
    • Same jurisdiction: Binding and mandatory authority: lower courts must follow the rule of higher courts in same jurisdiction
    • Other jurisdictions/lower courts: Courts will consider these as persuasive authority in deciding how to rule on a particular case; they aren’t required to adhere if it’s from another jurisdiction or from a lower court.
  • APPLY law to your facts
  • Make sure the law you found is still GOOD LAW – has it been overturned, deemed unconstitutional, or otherwise invalid? If so, you cannot use it to make your argument.
    • KeyCite in Westlaw
    • Shephardizing in Lexis

Put it all together and you’re done!