Voigt’s Legal Research Demystified

From the abstract for Eric P. Voigt, Legal Research Demystified: A Step-by-Step Approach (Carolina Academic Press, Apr. 2019):

Legal Research Demystified offers a real-world approach to legal research for first-year law students. The book guides students through eight steps to research common law issues and ten steps to research statutory issues. It breaks down the research steps and process into “bite-size” pieces for novice researchers, minimizing the frustration often associated with learning new skills. This text also gives students context, explaining why and when a source or finding tool should be used when researching the law. The process of legal research, of course, is not linear. This book constantly reminds students of the recursive nature of legal research, and it identifies specific situations when they may deviate from the research steps.

Through the book’s step-by-step approach, students will connect seemingly unrelated tools (e.g., citators and the Key Number System) and understand how to leverage them to answer legal questions. Every chapter includes charts, diagrams, and screen captures to illustrate the research steps and finding methods. Each chapter concludes with a “summary of key points” section that reinforces important concepts from the chapter.

This book provides students and professors with multiple assessment tools. Each chapter ends with true-false and multiple-choice questions that test students’ understanding of chapter content. These questions are replicated on the book’s companion website, Core Knowledge. Students may answer these end-of-chapter questions, as well as more advanced questions, on Core Knowledge and receive immediate feedback, including an explanation of why the answer is correct or incorrect. Professors can generate reports to track students’ performance. Based on students’ performance, professors will know whether to review a topic in more detail or to move to the next topic. (New books contain an access code to Core Knowledge; students purchasing used books can buy an access code separately.)

Core Knowledge offers yet another assessment tool: interactive research exercises. These online exercises walk students through the research steps on Westlaw and Lexis Advance, giving professors the option to “flip” the classroom. Through many screen captures and tips, students can navigate both research platforms outside of class, allowing students and professors to dig deeper into the material during class. Each research exercise simulates a real-world research experience and contains self-grading questions. For example, in one exercise, students research on Westlaw to determine whether the client could recover damages against a neighbor for the emotional distress for the death of the client’s dog. To answer the client’s question, students must complete the research steps, including finding and reviewing secondary sources on Westlaw, using the Key Number System and KeyCite, and performing keyword searches.

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