Things get so busy in law that sometimes we get behind. For instance, Research posts are supposed to appear on Wednesdays here at Slaw Tips. We all know that notes, tasks, and to do lists help us keep on top of the things we need to do. The same is true for legal research.
Today’s Tip is to use a detailed ‘sources consulted’ list. My personal preference is to put this list in the last section of a research memo. A Sources Consulted list can take the form of a bibliography (the texts you visited) or it can be more. I suggest using the sources consulted as your working notes for your research. Use it as a map for how you are going to approach the question.
- Which texts are you going to use
- When you use the texts, note which sections you visited and if you found something
- Which legislation tool are you going to use, what are your searches
- If you find legislation on your topic, which sections did you check for judicial consideration
- Which cases were useful of those you found
- What did the noteups of those cases reveal as the standard language search terms
- Did you look in the Abridgment, Halsbury’s Laws of Canada, the CED, another digest
- What you found that helped answer your research question
Embedding all of this information in your sources consulted keeps you stay on scope with your research project (that’s right you just read some legal project management language).
These notes can also form some of the text of your research memo or opinion. You can always cut them out later and save them in a different reference document if you need to. When these detailed notes stay with your research analysis, they make it really easy to reuse. They are also fantastic if at the end of the day you do not find an answer.