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Legal Research Skills Guide: Legal research process

CSU Library & Legal Research - Learning outcomes

By the end of this section you will be able to;

  • Understand the legal research strategy
  • Understand the difference between facts and issues in a problem
  • Understand the steps to take when answering a legal problem using the IRAC method

Legal research books

Legal databases - the big 3

Much of the legal research you do throughout your degree will centre around three main databases. Each database contains different content strengths, so it is worth investigating each database when researching.

The Area of Law tab in the Law Library Resource Guide will identify different resources available in these databases (and many others) for different subject areas, so check there if you're not sure where to start. The three databases are

Reading and evaluating

Cases and statutes can be difficult to read and understand. Referring to secondary resources will help you to develop your understanding. Don't forget to refer to extrinsic materials (second reading speeches, bill digests and explanatory memorandum) to develop your understanding as well.

Throughout your degree you will be asked to critically analyse topics, cases and other resources. This is an essential skill for law students, and requires you to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of the topic area. 

Analysis of the materials will require you to synthesise the the opinions, facts and arguments from a variety of sources and relate these back to the problem you've been assigned. In your discussion, you'll need to present (where applicable) the howwhatwhere and when.  Most importantly you'll need to use the research you've done to support the why.

Legal research process menu

This section of the guide will assist you in understanding the steps in the legal research strategy (IRAC), including: