Legal Research

Definition - What does Legal Research mean?

Legal research is the process used to find the information for certain documents that are submitted to courts in civil or criminal cases. This process includes gathering information like past court decisions, laws, statutes and related material from online legal databases and printed publications. It also includes verifying the validity of the material.

Justipedia explains Legal Research

The purpose of legal research is to find valid legal material for use in documents submitted prior to, during and after a trial. This material, called authority, should address the legal question presented for the reader's (usually a judge's) consideration.

For example, in a case where an attorney is arguing that a trial court made a mistake when it dismissed a case because the plaintiff failed to present a valid cause of action, the legal researcher will try to find favorable decisions from past court cases addressing the same issue. The researcher would also try to find applicable laws, statutes and other relevant information.

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