- because we live in a governmental system with 50 sovereignstates and one central federal government that claims to be supreme, there is substantialoverlap and tension between state and federal government. When researching, always ask what jurisdiction you are in. If you are researching a state law issue, ask yourself if anyfederal laws or regulations might apply.C.
Types of authority
- divided into “mandatory” (or “binding”) and “persuasive.”1. Mandatory authority must be followed. E.g., the Georgia Court of Appealsmust follow the rules contained in the decisions of the Georgia Supreme Court(the higher court up the chain) when deciding a case.2. Persuasive authority is only just that, e.g., a court is not required to follow arule taken from Williston, A Treatise on the Law of Contracts, but a court wouldlikely find a citation from such a learned treatise to be extremely persuasive. Thefollowing chart is all you need to know :
Primary Within the jurisdiction Outside the jurisdiction(statutes, cases, regs)Secondary Never Always(everything else)D.
Process of Research & Generating Search Terms
[BLR 6-23]The general goal of legal research is to find primary authority that applies to a specific setof facts. Thus, once a case or statute is found that applies to the facts of a situation presented to you as a practicing lawyer, you will be able to advise your client as towhether there could be liability for certain conduct, whether defenses to an adverse claimexist, or whether the client could potentially file a lawsuit. Often times you will not find primary authority that exactly fits your factual situation, that is, you will not find a caseor statute that is “on point.” Thus, you will need to read through and analyze severalcases or statutes to find primary authority that applies to your facts by analogy.1.
The process of legal research is not linear
. Sometimes you will have aspecific case or statutory citation and then can jump right into the primarysources. Even after reading the primary sources, though, you may be completelyconfused and need to turn to a secondary source (e.g., ALR annotation, lawreview article, legal encyclopedia) for a clearer explanation. Sometimes you will jump back and forth between different sources. Remember that there are manytools available for the resourceful legal researcher.
Much of the work hasalready been done for you
through indexing, headnotes, and other editorialenhancements.