Movie enthusiasts may recognize that the title of Today’s Tip is a quote from my personal Disney favourite: Mulan. I much prefer this modern interpretation of the Admonitions Scroll. Reflect before you act is excellent advice for many things, including legal research.
Cathie Best at her Best Guide to Canadian Legal Research agrees that “Plan and organize your research” is the first step in the legal research process. How can your reflect before you act on your legal research question?
Start your research memo by writing the facts as you understand them and then skip to the bottom of you document and work on your “sources consulted” list. Include the textbooks you are going to consult and what you are going to look for in the indices or tables of contents. Include your plan for the terms you will look for in Halsbury’s Laws of Canada and the CED. Write out your search strategy including your search string and plan for narrowing or expanding your results (remember to work broad to narrow for cost effective commercial database searching). Think about legislation that might apply to your issue. Think about which source to look at first – perhaps your firm has a research memo bank.