Research Tips and Tricks: Part 3

March 29, 2009

Today, I will address how you can organize your research for your future benefit.  You and your colleagues are probably sitting on gold mines of legal scholarship but don’t realize it.  Instead of throwing hours and hours of research into an old banker’s box when you close a file, turn all of that work into a gift to yourself that keeps on giving.  I highly recommend implementing an internal organizational system such as a “brief bank,” which then becomes your own amazing internal research hub. Consider saving not only the compelling briefs and legal memoranda authored by your own attorneys, but well-written briefs received from opposing counsel as well.  Lawyers appreciate having the law supporting both sides of an issue.  A good internal research bank contains material addressing a variety of topics such as deviation from child support standards, the relationship between cohabitation and maintenance, interstate custody issues, and more.

 

Don’t hesitate to add those “secondary” sources of information.  Often, one can recall reading a great article about something, but cannot locate the article or even recall where one read it.  Well-written articles from periodicals, such as the Wisconsin Journal of Family Law,  can be particularly helpful when there are changes in the law, or when an issue examines a topic in-depth.  Seminar materials, amicus briefs, and more can be incorporated into your internal research bank and make excellent background reading when learning about new topics or updating your research when you have traveled down a certain path before.

 

            With a computerized case management system and a document scanner, your internal research bank may even be stored electronically.  Then, you have everything in one convenient location for ease of retrieving, reviewing and quickly updating the applicable law and argument into a new document, which brings more efficiency to your practice.    Hopefully, these tips will help you save time, find better information and give you and your team more time to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

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