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Mastering Legal Research: Techniques and Strategies

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When it comes to the practice of law, solid legal research is paramount. Legal experience alone is not enough; without thorough research, even the most compelling legal argument may fall flat.

Legal research includes locating the data and pertinent legal precedents required to support legal decision-making, as well as citing them. It empowers arguments and adds substance to legal work, resulting in better outcomes for clients.

As an immigration professional, improving your research techniques and using smart research tools can give you a competitive edge. By honing your research skills and adopting efficient methods, you can save time and access the most relevant information to bolster your arguments.

The Fundamentals of Legal Research & Legal Issue

Looking for tips and techniques on how to do legal research effectively? Interested in learning the fundamentals of legal issues? Our guide is for you!

Understanding the Research Process of Case Law

Although techniques and tools may vary, the goal of immigration legal research remains the same: the way to find relevant information and resources (such as laws) that apply to the facts of a case, to support legal decision-making. Three fundamental components make up the legal research process:

  1. Understanding the key immigration legal information and questions of the legal issue at hand.
  2. Finding laws and information to support the legal argument.
  3. Checking the relevance and validity of the information found.

8 Steps to Achieve Research Statutes and Regulations

Are you looking to get legal research jurisdiction statutes and regulations on your next immigration case? Here are 8 steps to help you achieve this goal with ease.

1. Find Relevant Case Law

Before diving into legal research, it is essential to search for relevant key details about the immigration legal issue at hand. Take note of the “what, when, who, where, and how” of the case. This careful examination lays the foundation for a focused research process that addresses specific legal concerns.

2. Establishing Legal Issues and Goals

Utilize the critical information gathered to pinpoint the precise legal issues of the case and identify the desired outcomes for the client. This step is crucial in narrowing down search terms and focusing the research within the relevant jurisdiction. Whether it’s an appealing jurisdiction, determining the constitutionality of a law, or understanding specific legal topics, defining the goals in the early stages helps provide direction.

3. Understanding Precedent Relevant Cases

Pay attention to the geographical location where the legal issue will be resolved. Determine if the precedent from influential bodies like the Supreme Court of Canada, Court of Appeal, or Federal Courts is controlling or persuasive within the jurisdiction you are researching. This allows you to understand the weight and relevance of prior decisions when formulating legal arguments.

4. Differentiating Legal Primary Sources

Familiarize yourself with different types of legal sources, specifically primary and secondary sources. Primary sources establish the current law, such as statutes and regulations, while secondary sources provide interpretation and summaries of legal principles, including legal encyclopedias, treatises, and law reviews. Knowing the distinction helps in accessing the most relevant and reliable information for your research.

5. Beginning with Secondary Sources

When starting the research process, it is often beneficial, to begin with secondary sources. These sources offer background information and provide a solid foundation for deeper exploration. Reputable online legal databases like Westlaw, CanLII, and LexisNexis can be valuable resources for finding secondary sources related to your legal issue in the specific jurisdiction you are researching.

6. Search For Relevant Validity of Sources

It is crucial to verify the validity of the cases and statutes you come across during your research. To ensure the information is still “good” law, utilize citator tools available in major legal databases. These tools can be found in online legal research databases and will enable you to check the authority, history, and precedential value of the sources. This step ensures your legal arguments are based on reliable and up-to-date information.

7. Use a Citator For Verifying Your Legal Database

A citator is an indispensable resource that provides a wealth of information about judicial decisions, statutes, and regulations. Citators serve as a valuable tool for verifying the authority, relevance, and current status of legal authorities. By using a citator, researchers can gain insights into the history of a case, see how it has been cited and interpreted by other courts, and determine if its legal principles still hold today.

8. Check Memos and Brief To Assess Results

Once your research is complete, compile your findings into a comprehensive legal memorandum or briefing. This document will help you identify any gaps in the information that may have consequences later in your immigration legal proceedings.

A well-prepared memo typically includes a clear statement of the facts, identification of the immigration legal issues, the application of relevant law, predictions of counterpoints, and a comprehensive assessment of the most probable outcome. Ensuring you cite and support your legal argument with relevant cases and statutes enhances the credibility of your analysis.

By following these 8 steps and keeping in mind the provided keywords such as the supreme court, CanLII, online legal research, british columbia, appeal, Canadian law, and legal writing, you can optimize your legal research process, save time, and produce effective legal strategies aligned with the applicable jurisdiction.

How To Improve Your Legal Research Skills?

To further enhance legal research effectively, the following strategies can be considered:

1. Conduct More Efficient Research Remotely

Utilize online cloud-based legal research software, such as Fastcase, in combination with immigration management software like Casolve. This allows for remote access to resources and primary sources, streamlining the research process and enhancing efficiency.

2. Double-Check with Advanced Legal Research AI

Leverage artificial intelligence tools like ROSS Intelligence or Casetext’s CARA to speed up the research process without compromising accuracy. These tools can instantly search for relevant cases and statutes based on highlighted statements in pleadings and briefs, helping identify negative case treatment and ensuring comprehensive research.

3. Document Research with Secure Fact Management Software

Use secure and cloud-based fact management software, like FactBox, to organize and record research findings. This ensures that no facts slip through the cracks and helps prepare for depositions, hearings, client briefings, and trials more efficiently.


In conclusion, whether you are an experienced immigration professional or an attorney, honing your legal research skills is crucial for success. By adopting effective research techniques, utilizing smart research tools, and incorporating efficient research processes into your workflow, you can better support your cases and clients.

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