Evaluating Legal Resources – Questions
When you are evaluating legal resources, think about the purpose of the resource.
- Is it just general information such as FindLaw? Don’t misinterpret what I am telling you. FindLaw is a great place to start for general information…and it’s free.
- Is it a legal research program designed for professional use such as LexisNexis? You can also find decent resources that are more geared toward public use or that can be used by either a professional or a member of the public such as Google Scholar. Granted, the issue with that is making sure your case is on point.
- What is the credibility of the publisher? Make sure you know how to evaluate a source. There are ways to look at a web page and determine if it is reliable. If you need assistance, let me know. I can walk you through it or even create a set of instructions to post here for you.
- Is it meant to be used with additional resources? Think about it. Do you remember a time, even as a child doing a school project, that you started with an encyclopedia, but had to find other books that delved in to the subject? Sometimes sources are like that.
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of the resource? Every resource has strengths and weaknesses…even the paid ones. Not everyone is good (right away) with boolean logic for searches. That can cost you (and your firm) if you’re using a paid resource. You can practice this skill using Google or Google Scholar. There are also web sites available that help you learn boolean logic.
- Would a traditional, paper resource be better for your search? Remember, Vatterott College has a wonderful law library. To gain access, you can see Stan in the LRC, Ms. Maggie (Director of Education), or Chris Piatt (Campus Director) if it is locked.