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Legal Research: How to Find & Understand the Law [Paperback]

Stephen Elias Attorney , Editors Of Nolo
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)

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Legal Research: How to Find & Understand the Law Legal Research: How to Find & Understand the Law 3.0 out of 5 stars (2)
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Book Description

September 3, 2009 1413310524 978-1413310528 15
Legal research made simple!

If you're searching for information in a real or virtual law library as a paralegal, law student, legal assistant, journalist, or lay person, finding and accessing the laws that you need to read can be a challenge. Turn to Legal Research, which outlines a systematic method to find answers and get results.

In plain, readable English, Attorneys Elias and Levinkind explain, with plenty of examples and instructions, how to:

  • read and understand statues, regulations and cases
  • evaluate cases for their value as precedent
  • use all the basic tools of legal research
  • practice what you've learned with "hands-on, feet-in" library exercises, as well as hypothetical research problems
  • and solutions

    This easy-to-use and understand book has been adopted as a text in many law schools and paralegal programs. The 15th edition has been condensed to be more readable and includes an expanded discussion on the use of legal research tools on the web.

  • Editorial Reviews Review

    If you take it step by step, the United States legal system is not nearly as intimidating as it is reputed to be. With a little expert guidance from a couple of attorneys (Stephen Elias and Susan Levinkind), you can learn what's in a law library and how to use it, how to seek and understand statutes, regulations, and cases, how to explore online resources, practice your legal skills in the library, and even write a reputable legal memorandum. It's not as easy nor as immediately gratifying as buying an ice-cream cone, but with a modicum of patience, dedication and average smarts, you can research and understand the law without years of legal training and without emptying your bank account onto some lawyer's shiny desk.

    The text is approachable and easy to read. The authors' sensible approach takes the fear out of entering a law library, reassuring you that you needn't be a lawyer to be there and that the librarians are generally eager to please. By helping you formulate your legal questions (is the issue federal or state, civil or criminal, procedural or substantive?), narrowing your focus through legal indexes, and pursuing the appropriate resources, statutory laws, and relevant cases, the authors bring clarity and structure to the task. Nolo Press is famous for stripping the law of its daunting armor and making it accessible to the interested layperson. This guide to legal research is up to the usual high Nolo Press standards. It's a great boon to those who want to check out the law for themselves. --Stephanie Gold --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


    Getting around the law library can be easy—if you just know where to look-and Legal Research the place to begin. -- Library Journal

    This book has a valid and honored place on the shelves of both novice and practiced legal researchers. -- Legal Research Quarterly

    This book remains the best single the mysterious world of legal research. -- Robert C. Berring, Law Librarian, University of California, Berkeley --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

    Product Details

    • Series: Legal Research
    • Paperback: 386 pages
    • Publisher: NOLO; 15 edition (September 3, 2009)
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 1413310524
    • ISBN-13: 978-1413310528
    • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 7 x 9.2 inches
    • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
    • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #744,690 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

    More About the Author

    Stephen R. Elias is an attorney and former associate publisher at Nolo, as well as the current President of National Bankruptcy Law Project. He is the author of many Nolo books, most recently Bankruptcy for Small Business Owners. Other titles include Special Needs Trusts: Protect Your Child's Financial Future, How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, and Legal Research: How to Find and Understand the Law. He is also one of the original authors of Nolo's bestselling WillMaker software. Steve holds a law degree from Hastings College of Law and practiced law in California, New York, and Vermont before joining Nolo in 1980. He has been featured in such major media as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Good Morning America, 20/20, Money magazine, and more. Steve's blog on bankruptcy and foreclosure law can be found at Nolo's Bankruptcy & Foreclosure Blog.

    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews
    50 of 51 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars The very best! May 18, 2004
    By A Customer
    I am a legal assistant and I use this book constantly! It gives you great strategies to work more efficiently while getting better results. I had no idea how many legal resources there are online! This book tells you which sites are the most reliable and easy to use. It also demystifies annotated legal codes, case digests, state reports and many other research tools. But most importantly it is extremeley well organized and easy to use. I wish that I had discovered this book when I was a student!
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    35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best available October 16, 2001
    If you have a modicum of introduction to the law, and need a guidebook on "how to" go about researching a legal question, this book is one of the best available. It does assume that you have some working knowledge of how law works, but is an especially good book for either first year law students or paralegal students beyond their introductory courses. Well worth having on your shelf.
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    34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars A simple, direct, straightforward, "user friendly" guide September 5, 2002
    Now in its tenth edition, Legal Research: How To Find & Understand The Law by attorneys Stephen Elias and Susan Levinkind is a simple, direct, straightforward, "user friendly" guide to the extremely complicated and tricky topic of doing legal research. Individual chapters address how to properly frame questions in legal categories and efficiently look up relevant laws and case history. Legal Research is emphatically not a substitute for a consultation with an attorney; however, a close reading followed by judicious use of its fact-finding methods is a superbly effective way for non-specialist general readers to prepare themselves before sitting down with a billed-by-the-hour consultation with a licensed attorney or paralegal researcher!
    Comment | 
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    19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars Book Review May 21, 2007
    I find this book to be a great resource for non-lawyers. As adjunct faculty at a community college, I use it to supplement the course text for my Legal Research & Writing Course for Paralegals. Well worth the purchase, and a great value!
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    13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars Going to Court? April 10, 2008
    Legal information can seem confusing to the common person which is why this book was written. You need to understand how to find laws, regulations and court cases (if you are representing yourself in court). This is great even if you d not go to court because it makes you a smarter more diverse individual.

    This book gives you a straight forward resource on how to find the laws and regulations, how to read the citations, and how to use the law library. It is good for lawyers, judges, paralegals or the layman. It is packed with tons of useful information.

    I recommend it to everyone who has to decide if things are legal or not.

    Footnote: Nolo press is the best company that produces law books for the common person. They are always easy to read and pact with good advice.

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    12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and necessary book November 24, 2007
    By DEE
    Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
    This is an excellent and necessary legal research book for all paralegals,law students and legal researchers.
    The hypotheticals and research questions with detailed answers alone make it a must have volume. The authors skillfully guide the student through the legal research process with these problems and answers.This is the most valuable legal research book in my personal library. Highly recommended.
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    8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars A good legal research primer October 20, 2009
    Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
    I selected this book because I have had several legal questions that I have not found a good way to research. I do a lot of reading of educational research but have discovered that the legal world resides in an entirely different Universe called Law Libraries and is written in words that arenotenglish.

    This book is organized in a user friendly manner and begins at the bottom level by explaining what laws are and how they are made, and the difference between state and federal laws and cases. Understanding what court regulates an issue is a huge part of beginning research. This was an interesting approach and it was explained concisely. I've seen entire books on the judicial branch of our government, from teaching Civics, and this narrowed it down very quickly.

    Another interesting chapter is on identifying your legal issue. It asks you to form your question and clarify what area you are working in - civil or criminal, state or federal. This section helps you narrow down your issue before you try to research it. This was interesting because it is something asked of us in many areas, especially educational. One of the biggest problems students have when doing research is identifying what it is they want to find out. It seems like this is a universal approach in research.

    The glossary at the end is a very handy section and is also written in simple and clear language.

    One of the biggest achievements of this book is the way it is put in plain English. Being user friendly makes it easy to follow and implement the advice, making it much more likely that the book will actually be used, instead of just being bought as a token attempt before going to see an attorney. I would always prefer to do the research myself than hire a law firm to do it for me.
    Was this review helpful to you?
    5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars Research Digest! May 4, 2011
    That's what this book is, a research digest. It breaks the whole process of legal research down into bite size pieces. This means it is not quite the arduous it used to be. The book is a useful guide when trying to figure out exactly where to obtain legal information. The authors have thoroughly explained how to phrase questions so that the information is easily accessible. This simple tool can save hours of trying to figure out the legal jargon and never getting your questions answered. It is definitely a must for the personal library.
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    Most Recent Customer Reviews
    3.0 out of 5 stars Decently Written
    Want to know how to do what's contained in this book? Take a course in Criminal Justice, Paralegal Studies or anything else that has to do with this subject matter. Read more
    Published 5 months ago by Marlene Rafferty
    3.0 out of 5 stars Too General
    I was disapointed because I expected the book to provide more detailed and specific information about how to conduct legal research.
    Published 8 months ago by Pablo Blanco
    4.0 out of 5 stars excellent book
    I recently did a paralegal cert. I mostly studied paralegal because I am a librarian and interested in legal librarianship. While my courses provided some legal research. Read more
    Published 13 months ago by Maggie A
    5.0 out of 5 stars perfect for beginners
    this book is extremely helpful, clear and concise. i bought it because i work for a legal publishing house, but have no law background. Read more
    Published 14 months ago by Laura White
    5.0 out of 5 stars A great help to an attorney who has been away from the law too long
    Having gone to law school several decades ago and hardly practiced since then, my legal research skills have gotten very rusty. Read more
    Published on March 22, 2012 by Peregrinn
    5.0 out of 5 stars Great place to start!
    I found this book to be a great place to start as are most of the NOLO series books.
    Try one for yourself and see. They are reasonably priced as well.
    Published on March 4, 2012 by Peter Atshaves
    4.0 out of 5 stars Legal Research
    This book is an excellent introduction to the often esoteric world of legal research. It is clear and succinct, but not at all lacking. Read more
    Published on January 14, 2011 by B. Sherman
    4.0 out of 5 stars Great for Law Students!
    I got this book for my husband when he began law school. It was very helpful as an aide to helping him do research for his in-class briefs. Read more
    Published on September 23, 2010 by Emily E. Brown
    4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Reference for Doing Legal Research
    This book will not make the average person into a legal authority, but it will be very helpful to anyone who needs to do research on legal issues. Read more
    Published on September 22, 2010 by Cathy Stucker
    4.0 out of 5 stars Good resource for my purpose (writing mystery fiction)
    I bought this book because I'm writing a mystery and my protagonist is a lawyer...and I know nothing of law. Read more
    Published on February 10, 2010 by Leslie Truex
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