Plans are apart of life. Even those who like to live spontaneously make some plans. Law students definitely plan the courses they will take during law school, tourists hopefully plan what to see on their summer trip, and teachers always plan the topics they will discuss in class. Plans also come in handy when conducting legal research.
To conduct efficient legal research, you need a plan. What sources will you consult? What order will you consult them in? How long do you have to complete the project? These are all questions you can answer by making a research plan. To assist with research planning, the GSU Law Library produced a Legal Research Worksheet. Think of this worksheet as a museum map. When you go to a museum, you know there are certain exhibits you want to see, and a museum map helps you see those items in the most efficient manner. When doing legal research, you know you need to determine your issue, figure out your key terms, and consult cases, statutes, administrative materials, and statutory sources. The legal research worksheet helps you do just this.
What are the legally significant facts? Should I consult a secondary source? What are the citations for the relevant cases I have found? By using the worksheet, you are able to walk through each of the research steps, check off completed items, and then incorporate your research into a finished product, such as a memo or brief. Without a plan, you could find yourself stumbling through the legal research wilderness with no end in sight.
Remember, as John “Hannibal” Smith from the A-Team says, “I love it when a plan comes together.”