This page, if you read it and own it, is guaranteed to make you the most informed lawyer in the room. The simple processes outlined herein, when combined with our best-of-breed algorithm, streamlines the retrieval task, personalizes the analysis task and individualizes the validation task.
For all of the writing and commentary over the use of computers to conduct case law research, we only perform two tasks. We retrieve known and unknown opinions.
A Known Opinion is an opinion that you simply want to lookup, so that you can read it, save it or print it. Retrieving a Known Opinion is a reference task.
Unknown Opinions are revealed when we conduct real legal research. We know intuitively that our binding jurisdiction contains opinions construing Rule 404(b). We just don’t know what they are. So, we enter: 404(b) and limine which reveals a list of any matching opinions. Retrieving Unknown Opinions is a research task.
This page teaches you how to retrieve Known and Unknown Opinions. The instructions on this page solve for every case law research question that will arise. The simple processes set forth below are the identical in-house processes we use to assist judges, prosecutors, professors and attorneys in every private practice area and jurisdiction from coast-to-coast. We obviously do not understand the fine points of every jurisdiction and practice area. That said, before we even hear the case law research question, we know the process that we will deploy to quickly resolve that question to “yes” or “no.” We’ve been doing this for nearly 15 years and today, fully half of the nation’s attorneys pay to access this database. The reason for our success, we are convinced, is that unlike our competitors, our sole incentive is to simplify. The only way you’ll pay us again is when you renew. And your renewal rate, will be less than what you paid for your original subscription.
If you consider yourself a great book researcher, you know that book research was built around a relatively foolproof A-Z process. You knew when you were done. You didn’t worry that you missed something. The processes below are provided to promote the same degree of confidence. They represent a best practices approach to legal research on the computer. The analytical tools included in the case law database are designed to enhance these processes. We review those simple tools on the next page. For now, take ten minutes to master the simple processes on this page and the days of worrying that you may have missed relevant law will be over.
1. Build Your Search
TheLaw.net Equalizer provides a clean interface. We don’t try to sell you things along the way. Keyword Search (Boolean), Natural Language Search and Citation Lookup functions are all performed from the same smart search box. You can mix and match any combination of Federal and state jurisdictions. [INSERT EXPANDABLE MENU GRAPHICS]
2. Citation Lookup
To retrieve a known opinion, enter the book and page citation in the correct format and click SEARCH. If the opinion is unpublished search the originating jurisdiction by party name(s).
Sample Query: “lyndonville savings bank” and lussier
3. Multiple Citation Lookup
To retrieve two or more known opinions, separate them with a comma/space and click SEARCH.
Sample Query: 100 F.2d 200, 10 Cal.App.4th 300, 97 U.S. 386
4. Anchor + Filter = Hotlist
West Publishing famously handcrafted a toolset to facilitate book research. But, the days of relying on manmade, partial indexes to locate judicial opinions are over. Today, legal research is conducted on the computer and there’s a right and wrong way to do it.
(a) Search By Statute
Half of all legal research is driven by a Federal or state statute. If you do not have the statute in front of you, you can retrieve it in seconds using TheLaw.net’s Statutes Menu located in the upper left of the software underneath the NEW/OPEN BUTTONS.
Once you locate the controlling statute, print it out and keep it next to your keyboard. In the alternative you can leave the statute window and click the OPEN BUTTON (upper left) to search case law in a separate window.
To reveal any opinions construing the statute in the jurisdiction(s) that matter to you most, ANCHOR your query with the statute number and click SEARCH. If you find too many cases, FILTER your results by adding a relevant word or phrase from the statute.
Research Task: Your client is charged with violating the Florida murder statute. Sexual battery is an element of the state’s proof. The general statute number is 782.04.
Sample Query: Enter 782.04 and click SEARCH. You receive more than 1,000 hits.
Anchor + Filter = Hotlist: 782.04 and “sexual battery” and click SEARCH. This search returns only those opinions that contain at least one express reference to the statute number, together with at least one express reference to the term ‘sexual batttery.’ This is your HOTLIST. (Note that we use ‘sexual battery’ because we are guided by the black letter law. Relying on the language provided by the item of information driving your search (i.e. statute, rule, regulation or judicial opinion) guarantees that you will never commit the sin of word-guessing. 782.04 and “sexual assault” is incapable of returning useful results.)