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Legal Research Skills Guide: Legal Research Strategy (IRAC)

Legal Research process

Legal resources are broken into two categories Secondary and Primary. In general, when starting your legal research, it's good to start in the secondary resources which will help you identify the primary resources you'll need to refer to. Secondary resources include 

  • legal encyclopedias and dictionaries
  • books,
  • journal articles,
  • legal commentaries and 
  • government documents - explanatory notes, 2nd reading speeches and law reform documents.

These resources help us to understand, analyse and interpret the relevant Primary source material (legislation and case law) for your issues.

Throughout your law degree, you'll use the IRAC method when structuring your answers to legal problems. The Legal Research Method chart below shows you where the Library resources (secondary & primary) fit into the IRAC method. 

Using secondary resources in the "Gather background information" stage will help you when writing your assessment tasks, you'll be better equipped to explain the relevant law with supporting materials.

Checking the mentioned cases and legislation to "Update the law" section will help identify if these are still the relevant sources to refer to.

Activity #1 - Legal Research Strategy