How do I Conduct Lawsuit Research?

Misty Amber Brighton

In many jurisdictions, courts rely on the decisions made in previous cases when trying to reach a verdict. This means it can be very important to conduct lawsuit research prior to a trial. Litigation research can be done by gaining access to a database that contains court opinions and statutes. You can also visit a law library in order to search through legal encyclopedias. After finding a related case, you should check to make sure the law you have found is good case law.

Lawsuit research can be done in a law library.
Lawsuit research can be done in a law library.

There are a number of databases that contain cases that have been previously decided. Some of these databases may allow you to do research for free, while others require you to subscribe to the website. The information available on free websites is sometimes rather limited. Try to find a case similar to yours by doing a basic Internet search before you try to access a site that may require you to pay a fee to use it.

Filing a lawsuit requires a large amount of research in most cases.
Filing a lawsuit requires a large amount of research in most cases.

If you are unable to conduct thorough lawsuit research in this manner, you may want to visit a law library. A law library may offer a computer with access to one of the more complex databases. Members of the public are often allowed to use this resource free of charge.

While you are at the law library, you may want to perform lawsuit research by looking through many of the books located there. Most libraries have books containing local statutes so you can find the particular law or laws that apply to your case. You should ask the librarian to direct you to the right volumes, otherwise this process can prove to be very unproductive.

After you have successfully located a case, you should read it very carefully. You may need to read a case multiple times in order to completely understand it. Obtain a printed copy of the case and highlight things that attract your attention. This can be helpful to you in determining the differences and similarities to your own case.

Lawsuit research is never complete until the relevant cases have been shephardized. This means they have been fully researched in order to find out whether the decision that was rendered has been overturned. In the United States, this is done by consulting a book known as Shepherd's Citations®. If that is the case, you may not be able to use that decision to argue your case.

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