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About This Course

Advanced and specialized approaches to utilize the legal resources available in a law library, and elsewhere, will be examined. The conceptual differences between computer-assisted legal research and hard copy research will be taught. You will also learn how to formulate WESTLAW search queries and effectively and efficiently use WESTLAW and other online legal research methods as timesaving devices in legal research and legal writing. Coursework in Advanced Legal Research is equivalent to 45 clock hours of study.

Instructor: Jaimee L. Ward

Course Objectives:

Participants will demonstrate the following skills through successful completion of all required coursework and assignments:

  • Explain the hierarchy and structure of our court systems
  • Discuss the importance of and applications of the different types of legal authority
  • Define the doctrine of stare decisis
  • Differentiate common law and civil law
  • Discuss the necessity for preemption by the federal government.
  • Define the concepts of jurisdiction and venue
  • Explain the purposes of the different sets of books
  • Summarize the elements of research
  • Demonstrate how to organize a research project
  • Demonstrate how to define issues
  • Demonstrate how to narrow and refine a research project
  • Explain how to begin a research project
  • Discuss how to search by key number
  • Discuss how to search by topic
  • Explain the purpose of head notes and annotations

Expectations

You will be expected to spend approximately 7 to 8 hours per lesson reading and completing writing assignments. Please note that extensions will not be granted for this online course. 70% is the minimum passing score on all tests and assignments for this course. Students may consider working ahead in the curriculum if they have the time.

Prerequisites

Successful completion of the core Paralegal Certificate Course, or the equivalent, or law office experience.

Course Books

Required textbooks for this course:

  • Legal Research in a Nutshell, most recent edition, by Morris L. Cohen and Kent C. Olson.
  • A Uniform System of Citation (a.k.a. “The Bluebook”), most recent edition, Harvard Law Review.
  • WESTLAW, online legal research access, available for the duration of the course for only $89.00. Order online

Highly Recommended Legal Resources:

  • Oran’s Dictionary of the Law, 4th Edition, by Daniel Oran. Clifton Park: Delmar Cengage Learning.

Reading Assignments for Lesson Topics:

Lesson One: Legal Research: Review Of Basic Concepts

  • Read Chapters 1 & 2 in Legal Research in a Nutshell (Nutshell)

Lesson Two: Elements Of Research and Westlaw

  • Read Chapters 3, 4 & 5 in Nutshell

Lesson Three: Elements Of Research and Westlaw Continued

  • Review Chapters 3, 4 & 5 in Nutshell

Lesson Four: Legal Research On The Internet

  • Read Chapters 6, 7 & 8 and review Appendix A in Nutshell

Lesson Five: Legal Research On The Internet Continued

  • Review Chapters 6, 7 & 8 and review Appendix A in Nutshell

Lesson Six: Citation Format And Primary Sources Of Law

  • No required reading

Lesson Seven: Course Review

  • No required reading

Tests:

For each of the six lessons you will submit a 50-point test covering the information within that topic.

Bulletin Board Assignments:

You will also post your responses to six class participation assignments each worth 10 points. These Bulletin Board Assignments assignments make up your class participation grade. All lesson objectives, assignments, and tests can be found within the Lesson Material and also under Activities. Additional resources are available by accessing the URL Library tool.

Grading

Your grade will be based on your completion of six tests and class participation. You will have the opportunity to engage in “class participation” by using the Bulletin Board forums to respond to the bulletin board assignments throughout the course. Also, participating in the bulletin board assignments will enhance your understanding of the reading material.

Your final grade will be figured as follows:

  • The six exams comprise 80% of your grade.
  • Your participation in class participation assignments comprises 20% of your grade.

Every assignment must be completed with 70% or better in order to pass the course.

Withdrawal Policy

Students may drop the course with a full tuition refund less a non-refundable $15 administrative fee if written notice is sent to The Center for Legal Studies by email at [email protected] by the Wednesday before class begins. Students may drop the course with a 50% tuition refund if written notice is sent to The Center for Legal Studies by email at [email protected] anytime from the Thursday before the course begins until the first Thursday of class. After the first Thursday of class, no refunds will be issued.