PA 2220: Legal Research

Course Title: Legal Research
Course Number: PA 2220
Credits: 3 semester credits
Prerequisites: PA 1102 – Introduction to Law and Contracts (Minimum grade: 2.0 GPA Equivalent).
Recommendations: A student must have completed PA 1102 in order to take this course. It is recommended that student complete ENG 1108 and ENG 1111 or ENG 1114 prior to taking the legal research course. Also, the student will need to go to a full-service law library off-campus to complete some print federal and Minnesota legal research exercises. Otherwise, the IHCC library contains all federal and Minnesota law resources needed to complete exercises by Westlaw electronic access. The instructor will provide a suggested list of off-campus law libraries.
Catalog Description: Provides an understanding of the law library and will assist the student in developing research skills through the use of digests, reporters, statutes, administrative materials and secondary materials. This course includes practice problems requiring legal research. The course also will include an introduction to computerized legal research.
Course Objectives/ Learning Outcomes: Students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate and apply a basic understanding of how to conduct manual and computerized legal research.
  • Find, research, and cite legal texts, statutes, codes, regulations and cases.
  • Interpret, use and evaluate the Shepard system and The Bluebook for citations.
  • Use and analyze legal encyclopedias, digests, reporters, statutes, administrative and executive publications, loose-leaf publications, periodical literature, treatises, restatements, uniform state laws, dictionaries, and words and phrases, and “citators” such as Shepard’s.
  • Compile legal research information and detailed research trails both in print and electronic resources.
  • Obtain Westlaw or comparable electronic research certification as available.
  • Recall, interpret and analyze the basic rules of legal professional responsibility, ethical considerations and confidentiality as it relates to legal research.
Topics Covered:
  1. Introduction to Sources of Law, Authority, and Holdings (2  hours)
  2. Organization of Legal Research Materials (.5  hours)
  3. Strategies for Research (1.5 hours)
  4. Citation (1.5 hours)
  5. Cases (2 hours)
  6. Case Finders (2 hours)
  7. Case Analysis (and Projects) (8.5 hours)
  8. Statutes (2 hours)
  9. Constitutions (.5 hour)
  10. Legislative History (1.5 hours)
  11. Statutory Analysis (1 hour)
  12. Court Rules (.5 hour)
  13. Citators (1 hour)
  14. Administrative and Executive Publications (3 hours)
  15. Secondary Authorities (3 hours)
  16. Computerized Legal Research (and Projects) (12 hours)
  17. Ethics (1 hour)
  18. Review and Examinations (4.5 hours)

Total Semester Hours 48.0

Course Objectives: To provide students with a basic understanding of legal analysis, the tools available for legal research and the process of conducting legal research in print and electronically.
Course Measures: The students may take quizzes and exam(s), and do legal research assignments and projects both in print and electronically, and may meet with the instructor individually to review legal research assignments.

Grading of assignments and exams may be on a numerical basis. The final grade will be a full letter grade (A-F).