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Ben Doherty's Advanced Legal Research: Schedule & Memo Topics

Schedule & Memo Topics

Date        In-class Activities Assessments Due

Introduction: How will we best develop our legal research skills and confidence in the 9 weeks we have as a class?

Wednesday, August 25

We will get to know one another and talk about how this class will work.

 

Bring to class any questions you may have about the class from the course website/syllabus.

 

Monday, August 30

We will discuss some of the major types of secondary sources useful to legal research. We will also discuss some advanced search techniques for Westlaw and Lexis, such as boolean connectors and fields/segments.

Intro Survey 1 due at the beginning of class.

Legal Research Memo 1: Your client allegedly was caught committing grand larceny—how much trouble are they in? How do you find and analyze all of the relevant statutes and cases so that you can precisely explain the penalty for a particular crime? How do we analyze both the facts and the legal conclusions of cases to best apply them to our clients' scenarios.

Wednesday, September 1

We will begin our work on Legal Research Memo 1. We will also discuss our goals/my expectations in presenting our research effectively in writing (which you will do in the 4 legal research memos in this class).

Read the sample List of Sources and sample Legal Research Memo prior to class so that we can discuss expectations for the written work product in this class.

Monday, September 6

Team research for Legal Research Memo 1. We will discuss resources and approaches relevant to researching Memo 1.

Intro Survey 2 due before class.

Wednesday, September 8

Team research for Legal Research Memo 1. Finalizing the team's list of sources.

Individual team member's proposed source list due before class. Final team source list due at the end of class.

Monday, September 13

In-class time to work on your Legal Research Memo 1 and to ask any questions you have. We will talk as a full class about approaches to Memo 1 and the major issues you'll want to address. We will also talk about research issues that arise in current statutory and case research.

Legal Research Memo 2: How are states currently using legislation to address voting rights and election integrity? How do you find and analyze legislative documents, such as current bills, reports, press releases, statutes or other sources, so that you can clearly explain how and why a legislature is responding to a particular issue?

Wednesday, September 15

Final discussion of Legal Research Memo 1. We will begin our work on Legal Research Memo 2. 

Legal Research Memo 1 due before class.

Monday, September 20

Team research for Legal Research Memo 2. We will discuss resources and approaches relevant to researching Memo 2.

Intro Survey 3 due before class.

Wednesday, September 22

Team research for Legal Research Memo 2. Finalizing the team's list of sources.

Individual team members' proposed source list due before class. Final team source list due at the end of class.

Monday, September 27

In-class time to work on your Legal Research Memo 2 and to ask any questions you have. We will talk as a full class about approaches to Memo 2 and the major issues you'll want to address. We will also talk about research issues that arise in current or historical legislative research.

Legal Research Memo 3: The pandemic has shown the importance and vulnerability of service industry workers. How is the U.S. Department of Labor proposing to change its regulations to ensure that workers in tip-based industries receive the required minimum wage? How do you find and analyze administrative documents, such as current regulations, proposed and final rules, public comments, statutes and cases, so that you can clearly explain how and why a federal agency is responding to a particular issue?

Wednesday, September 29

Final discussion of Legal Research Memo 2. We will begin our work on Legal Research Memo 3.

Legal Research Memo 2 due before class.

Monday, October 4

Team research for Legal Research Memo 3. We will discuss resources and approaches relevant to researching Memo 3.

Intro Survey 4 due before class.

Wednesday, October 6

Team research for Legal Research Memo 3. Finalizing the team's list of sources.

Individual team members' proposed source list due before class. Final team source list due at the end of class.

Monday & Wednesday, October 11 & 13 Fall Break. Fall Break.

Monday, October 18

In-class time to work on your Legal Research Memo 3 and to ask any questions you have. We will talk as a full class about approaches to Memo 3 and the major issues you'll want to address. We will also talk about research issues that arise in regulatory research and how the state system compares to the federal system.

Legal Research Memo 4: You represent a client injured in a collision with a construction vehicle. How do you best respond to the Virginia defensive pleading known as a demurrer when opposing counsel alleges your case should be dismissed because of your client's contributory negligence? Lawyers often spend much of their time on procedural issues. How do you find and analyze procedural documents, such as local or national court rules, cases, and secondary sources so that you can navigate the maze of procedure to best represent your client?

Wednesday, October 20

Final discussion of Legal Research Memo 3. We will begin our work on Legal Research Memo 4.

Legal Research Memo 3 due before class.

Monday, October 25

Team research for Legal Research Memo 4. We will discuss resources and approaches relevant to researching Memo 4.

Intro Survey 5 due at the beginning of class.

Wednesday, October 27

Team research for Legal Research Memo 4. Finalizing the team's list of sources.

Individual team members' proposed source list due before class. Final team source list due at the end of class.

Monday, November 1

Class conclusion and wrap-up. In-class time to work on your Legal Research Memo 4 and to ask any questions you have. We will talk as a full class about approaches to Memo 4 and the major issues you'll want to address. We will also talk about research issues that arise in procedural research.

Wednesday, November 3 (no class)

No class. Legal Research Memo 4 due by 5 pm.