This guide is designed to help students working as Research Assistants (RAs) for law professors. Law Librarians are available to help you identify relevant books, articles, and electronic resources. They can also help you develop search strategies in our catalogs, databases, Internet, indexes, as well as in primary sources of law.
Materials from your training this summer can be found below.
Find out if you need to examine federal or state court or administrative decisions, regulatory, or legislative sources, or some combination.
The professor may know of expert authors, recent publications, or other materials that could help you. Get names of authors and citations to documents, if possible.
How much information does the professor want? Should your research be exhaustive, or just an overview?
Terms of art
Ask the professor for standard terms of art and their definitions. You can save time and effort if you know some of the right terminology.
If your professor uses acronyms that you are unfamiliar with, clarify the spelling and meaning of acronyms.
As an expert, a professor will know the titles of key journals, looseleafs, treatises, and databases in the field of research.
How much time should you spend on the project? Find out before you start your research.
Adapted from a handout by Ellen Callinan, Crowell & Moring, Washington, DC (1993)
In addition to Lexis and Westlaw, these full text databases are very useful.