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CML 1101: Principles of Legal

Research (2010-11)
Introduction to legal research
C. Addison, A. Fleichman,Cecilia
M.-A. Sheppard,
Tellis, LawJ.Librarian
Brian Dickson Law Library
Brian: Dickson
CML 1101,

review of syllabus and introduction to the course
the basics of legal research
categories of law (substantive / procedural /
primary vs. secondary sources of law
paper vs. computerized sources of law
overview of sources in law
general strategies for researching legal
registration for online research services

Review of syllabus
Contact information
Course materials
Rules for the completion of
Weekly outline

division of students into Tutorial A and

Tutorial B

Virtual Campus

Virtual Campus

Why this course is

Research is fundamental to a lawyers
But, more immediately

More opportunities for work/credit as a


Ottawa Law Review

Law & Technology Journal
Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic
Pro bono
Legal aid clinic
Deans Legal Research and Writing Fellowship

Other reasons this course is

efficient research = efficient use of
client $$$
credibility (professional and personal)
professional liability

Meet the Rules!

Rules of Professional Conduct
Rule 2: Relationship to Clients
competent lawyer

The legal research process

The basics of legal research

1. Identify issues based on a fact
pattern or problem;
2. Identify the appropriate research
tools, both in print and online, and
know how to use them;
3. Read and understand the sources to
which your research has led; and,
4. Apply the law to the fact pattern or
For more information, consult: Thurgood Marshall Law Library Guide to Legal Research 2009 2010, online:

Some examples
Typical law school problems tend to be
fairly academic in nature:
When do security liens under the
Personal Property Security Act apply to
What remedies are available following a
tort in negligence?
Is a contract drafted on a paper napkin
What is the thin skull rule and when
does it apply?

Some more examples

In legal practice, legal problems are
often more hands-on:
What is the official name of a person or
company your law firm is trying to sue, and
in what jurisdiction are they located?
Is there an execution against the vendor of
real property that your client is purchasing?
How can you arrange for an expert witness
to testify at trial about quantification of

Categories of law
Private law
Substantive law

Public law

Procedural law

Evidentiary law

Substantive law
Legal rights and obligations; legal rights
may be enforced by way of legal
proceedings, to which substantive law sets
out the defences
ex.: What are the elements of the tort of
assault? What are the applicable defences?

Subdivided into public and private law

Public law governs the relationship between
persons and the state
Private law governs the relationship between
Definitions: Margaret Kerr, JoAnn Kurtz & Arlene Blatt, Legal research: step by step, 3d ed. (Toronto: Emond Montgomery, 2010) at 5.

Procedural law
Sets out the procedure that a party
must follow to enforce his or her rights
in a court proceeding or to defend a
ex.: What steps must be taken to pursue an
action in tort? What documents must be
filed to start the action? How long can you
wait before filing with the court? When must
the defence be filed?
Definition: Margaret Kerr, JoAnn Kurtz & Arlene Blatt, Legal research: step by step, 3d ed. (Toronto: Emond Montgomery, 2010) at 5.

Evidentiary law
Sets out the manner in which facts
are proved in a trial or a proceeding
ex.: What kinds of questions may you ask
a witness at trial? Who may appear as a
witness at trial? What may or may not be
taken into consideration by a judge?

Definition: Margaret Kerr, JoAnn Kurtz & Arlene Blatt, Legal research: step by step, 3d ed. (Toronto: Emond Montgomery, 2010) at 5.

Sources of law
3 main sources of Canadian law:
statutes (laws) passed by federal
Parliament or provincial legislature
regulations made at either the federal or
provincial government level
decisions made by judges (case law)
Primary sources

But wait! Theres more

Secondary sources provide
interpretations of case law and/or

textbooks, reports, government documents,

articles, etc.

A vast array of finding tools will help

you locate these primary and secondary

Library catalogue, periodical indexes, search

engines, legal gateways/portals, case

Paper vs. electronic

Better at providing context and
explaining a broad area of the
More comprehensive, especially
for older cases and statutes.
Cost to use is low.

Very current.
Include unreported decisions.
Cross-indexing of information is
already done for you.
Easy to pinpoint information in a
large group of documents.

Not as current.
Not as easy to search.

Not always be available.
Coverage is sometimes limited.
Can be expensive to use.

Paper vs. electronic

Use paper sources to find general

statements of the law. (Or an

electronic version of a book.)
Use electronic sources to find and
update statutes and regulations, as
well as to update cases.
Use both paper and electronic sources
to find additional cases or to locate
the text of the case once you have a

The Four Cs of good legal

Source: Christina Kunz et al.,The Process of Legal Research, 6th ed., (New York:
Aspen Publishers, 2004) at 6.

When can I stop


When you have used a variety of

appropriate sources
When you are finding the same
authorities over and over again
When cost exceeds benefit, i.e. you
run out of time

Homework for tutorial

Read the case that is assigned to you and
be prepared to give a 1-minute synopsis
on what the judge says about the
importance of legal research and a
counsels duty to his or her client and the
administration of justice (i.e. ignore any
substantive law issues)

Lougheed Enterprises Ltd v Armbruster (1992),

63 BCLR (2d) 316 (CA).
World Wide Treasure Adventures Inc v Trivia
Games Inc (1987), 16 BCLR 135 (Sup Ct).

Homework for tutorial

Read Modules 1 and 2 in Virtual
Campus and complete any associated
quizzes in the modules
1: The Research Process
2: Using Keywords & Boolean Operators

Read McGill Guide, Part 1: General Rules

Be prepared to discuss and ask any
questions of your TA

Homework for tutorial

Connect your laptop to the wireless network and set up printing and

Register for LexisNexis/Quicklaw

Choose Login at, then Register
Now, then follow instructions
You MUST register from one of the library computers!

Register for Westlaw Canada

Use the address on the card given to you in class, and follow the
instructions (can do this from any computer)

Problems? Want more information? Mary Rgimbald and Julie

Lavigne will hold drop-in sessions in the small computer lab (FTX
419A) during regularly-scheduled tutorial times in September. Go
the week you are not in your tutorial if you need help!