Skip to Main Content

Ben Doherty's Advanced Legal Research: Home

Advanced Legal Research

Spring 2024, Section 1
Mondays & Wednesdays
10:00-11:20 am, classroom WB 278
January 22 - March 27


Office Hours:

Generally available in my office (WB 234) or by Zoom Monday - Friday all day.

Email me if you'd like a specific appointment

Why take this class?

Legal research: solving real world problems through attention to detail and the ability to find, analyze and explain all of the documents that help you best represent your clients. Our goal for this class is to give you an opportunity to develop your research skills and confidence so that you too will be able to research any legal issue you might confront in your practice, thoroughly and effectively. As a class, we will explore legal research in a variety of subject areas, including case law, statutes, legislative history, administrative law, and court procedure; and we will look at the resources that are most helpful in researching these areas of law, some of which you may not have encountered before. We will also learn how best to take advantage of familiar resources such as Google, Westlaw, Lexis or Bloomberg Law, along with new ones like generative artificial intelligence. Most important, however, is for you to become confident in your legal research process, so that you will know that you can handle any research project you might confront, regardless of topic or available resources.

This course meets the criteria of a simulation course under ABA Standard 304(a) by simulating aspects of legal practice and including direct faculty supervision, classroom instruction, performance of professional skills, and opportunities for faculty feedback and self-evaluation.

Course Objectives

By the end of this class, you will. . .

  • Understand the different types of primary and secondary legal sources, where to find them, how they relate to one another, and how each might be most useful to your research;

  • Be able to find the specific primary and secondary sources you need to solve any legal research problem you might face;

  • Be able to analyze the sources you have found so that you understand how they all fit together to form the current state of the law for the specific legal issue you are researching;

  • Be able to explain clearly to your audience, in writing or verbally, how the legal documents you have found all fit together and how they apply to the legal issue you are addressing;

  • Have developed a general legal research process in which you are confident and be able to apply that process to any legal issue you might face in your career.


By spending our time in these three ways. See Assessments & Grading for details.

4 short legal research memos


5 short-answer intro surveys


Class attendance and engagement



Profile Photo
Ben Doherty
UVa Law Library
Office WB 234 (behind the reference desk)
(434) 924-7726