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Regardless of the organization in which you’ll find yourself as a lawyer, the importance of solid legal research cannot be underestimated.  A lawyer must ensure that the cited legislation is up to date, that the cases mentioned correspond to the laws in question and that the argumentation used is supported by recognized experts.

The three main sources of Law - legislation, jurisprudence and commentary  – are found within specialized publications, namely in volumes of statutes, law reports and legal books and journals whose presentation and organization are not always conventional, loose-leaf services being the most obvious example. Legal documentation is composed of printed sources and digitized or electronic sources, each one having a corresponding research methodology.

Information retrieval has a particular importance in Law. Library research forms an integral part of the occupation of the lawyer. The texts of laws and regulations are documents which must be published in print to have legal effect.  A large number of decisions of the judicial and administrative courts are published, more particularly those which are considered jurisprudence. As for commentaries, texts written by recognized specialists and published in the form of books and of articles, while they are considered secondary material, are nevertheless an essential source of Law.

Obviously, it is necessary to have the ability to quickly and efficiently access these various documents. Therefore, you will have to gain knowledge of the relevant documentary sources and research tools to effectively fulfill your information needs.

It is within this context that the course of legal research methodology is prepared. It acts primarily as an introduction to Canadian and Ontarian sources of legislation, case law and commentary in both print and electronic formats. There will be some basic coverage of the United States and the United Kingdom as time permits.  It will explain the principal sources of legal information and techniques to locate information, as well as briefly explain the importance of legal citation. Indeed, it is necessary to be able to find within a legal reference, information which will lead you to additional information on cited documentation. This will sometimes allow you to judge relevance of the source at hand.

The citation guide used within the course will be the Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation, 6th ed. [CGULC] (FTX Reserve & Reference KE 259 C353 2006).





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