Law Unit Research Guides.: legal resources by subject.
Effective legal research requires you to look at secondary and extrinsic sources such as text books, journals, commentary, and parliamentary debates, as well as primary legal materials.
Primary legal materials are the documents which contain the written records of the law - legislation and cases.
Secondary legal materials are those materials which are about the law - discussing, explaining or analysing the law - and include:
reference tools which help find the law (dictionaries, encyclopaedias, guides and directories)
books, journals and commentaries which discuss the law
extrinsic materials - documents, defined within a jurisdiction's Interpretation Act, which can be used in court to interpret the meaning and intent of legislation. These include Parliamentary debates (Hansard), explanatory memoranda and Law Reform documents.
When presented with a hypothetical legal problem,
first use the IRAC method for analysis:
Conduct your legal research for sourcing the Rules and relevant law, and their Application.
Use a graphic organiser (mind map or flow chart) to arrange your thoughts, such as MindMeister.
For guidance on how to develop a good search strategy and technique see:
Use the Research Strategy Template to organise your legal research.
1. Read a legal encyclopaedia, or journal article, to mine for search terms
2. Find synonyms for the search terms
3. Create search strings for searching databases - use Boolean connectors
4. Follow the Five Steps to Legal Research
5. Record all resources, including quotations and their page numbers
TIP: Ensure your reference complies with the Australian Guide to Legal Citation rules when you first access the resource - don't leave your referencing to the last minute. See the Legal Citation Guide for easy citation.
Why learn Legal Writing?
Legal writing skills will enable you to use different products to articulate your message:
essays, reports, legal submissions, video clips, blogs, tweets, Snapchat stories, wiki articles.
It is your professional responsibility to be able to present or display your message online and in print.