How does legal research contribute to the work of a paralegal?

  • Paralegal Studies
  • June 25, 2024
  • 4 min read
How does legal research contribute to the work of a paralegal

Legal research is a fundamental task for paralegals, as it forms the basis for much of their work. Therefore, anyone looking to join the profession or seeking a deeper understanding of it should recognize the importance of legal research. This post explores how legal research contributes to the role of a paralegal by exploring the skills and tools necessary for success in this area.

Legal research is a fundamental skill for paralegals. It involves identifying and retrieving information necessary to support legal decision-making. It encompasses finding legal precedents, statutes, regulations, and other legal documents to ensure that legal arguments and decisions are well-informed and accurate. 

Steps in Effective Legal Research

  • Identifying Legal Issue: This involves understanding the context of the case or matter and identifying the specific legal principles that must be addressed. 
  • Sources of Law: Legal research involves consulting various sources of law, which can be broadly categorized into primary and secondary sources.
  • Research Tools and Database:  Paralegals must proficiently use various research tools and databases. 
  • Research Strategy: An effective research strategy is crucial for efficient legal research. This involves keyword selection, boolean operators, and using advanced search techniques.
  • Synthesizing Information: Once relevant legal materials are gathered, the next step is to analyze and synthesize the information. 
  • Documentation and Citation: Proper documentation and citation of sources are essential to maintain the credibility and reliability of the research. Paralegals must be familiar with citation formats such as the Bluebook or the ALWD Guide to Legal Citation, ensuring that all references are accurately cited.

Case Preparation

Paralegals assist in case preparation, which includes gathering facts, organizing evidence, and conducting legal research to identify relevant precedents. The thorough study conducted by paralegals allows attorneys to understand the complexities of the case, connect supporting laws, and anticipate potential opposing arguments. This meticulous preparation ensures that the attorney is well-prepared to argue for the client effectively.

Paralegals typically prepare legal documents such as motions, briefs, pleadings, and contracts. These documents must be based on accurate legal research to ensure they uphold the total weight of the law and reflect credible standards established by competent legal authorities. Thoroughly researched documents and briefs provide a solid foundation and strengthen the credibility of an attorney’s case in court.

Supporting Client Consultation

Paralegals provide background information and legal insights necessary for client consultations. They research relevant laws and previous case histories to further assist attorneys in providing evidence-based advice. This increases client interaction and helps build confidence in the legal team’s expertise.

Legal research is essential for streamlining legal processes and saving time and resources. Paralegals are well-positioned to promptly identify and analyze relevant information, prevent unnecessary legal work, and reduce the likelihood of overlooking essential facts.

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Staying Current with Legislative Changes

The legal environment constantly changes as lawmakers and courts develop new laws, rules, and case laws. Therefore, paralegals must stay informed to ensure their research findings remain accurate and up-to-date. They must also be committed to continuous learning and stay updated with the latest developments in the field of law. 

Research Tools and Technology

Paralegals must also be committed to continuous learning and stay updated with the latest legal technological developments. By doing so, the legal team can maintain a competitive edge and ensure compliance with new legal standards.

Critical Reasoning and Analytical Skills

Legal research requires critical thinking and analytical skills. Paralegals need to identify the relevance and credibility of the source and critical legal issues and logically draw conclusions from what they find. These are essential skills for exemplary research and crucial in building better problem-solving skills within a team.

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The above components form the foundation of a paralegal’s duties, including case preparation, drafting documents, and client consultations. Proficiency in thorough and accurate legal research is essential for providing competent legal services and achieving successful outcomes.To enroll in the paralegal program at Northwest Career College, visit their official website for more information and to start the enrollment process.

Cassidy Wagner
Dean Of Administrative Programs

A graduate of Coronado High School and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where she she earned her Bachelors of Arts in Communication Studies, Cassidy found her passion in college. Having worked as a paralegal in a law firm for…Read Full Bio

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