Why get proficient in legal research?

Well, there are lots of reasons. If you’re working in public interest, researching efficiently will help you serve more people. If you’re working in a firm, you might not want to stay up all night doing research–and more urgently you might be under pressure to minimize billing of research hours.

Here’s one reason more that just caught our eye. From the NY Times a few weeks ago, How 4 Federal Lawyers Paved the Way to Kill Osama bin Laden, which describes the highly secret memo writing process that proceeded the raid of bin Laden’s compound:

Stretching sparse precedents, the lawyers worked in intense secrecy. Fearing leaks, the White House would not let them consult aides or even the administration’s top lawyer, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. They did their own research, wrote memos on highly secure laptops and traded drafts hand-delivered by trusted couriers. [emphasis added]

It’s just possible that someday you may be called upon to work on something so confidential that not even librarians can know about it and help you. (And one of our core professional values–so strong that we’ve been known to fight the FBI over it–is keeping private what our patrons are reading or researching.) Of course we hope scenarios like those described in the article are few and far between!

In the meantime and for everything that’s not super secret, we hope you’ll take advantage of our knowledge and services. Schedule a research consultation for your paper, project, or research for faculty. Or work on your own, but consult one of our research guides, which cover dozens of topics in legal research and beyond.

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