Library Tips: Getting your first assignmentsummerclipart

  1. First, no one expects you to know everything, relax.
  2. Always have a pad of paper and pen on you to write down questions as well as make notes regarding the assignment.
  3. For bill tracking purposes, most assignments have client numbers.  Remember to ask for the client number.   
  4. Ask how much time the attorney wants you to spend on the assignment.  Note the deadlines.
  5. After you get your assignment, to verify understanding, review your assignment immediately when you return to your office. Jot down any questions you have. 
  6. Don’t go online immediately.  Most firms expect their attorneys to be cost-effective & this includes costs incurred from using a legal database. 
  7. Come up with a strategy or Research Plan of Action.  Ask yourself key questions: scope, jurisdiction, type of documents required, confidentiality issues, major treatises or databases to check.  Brainstorm for keywords and concepts.

Research Plan of Action – Library Resources

  1. If the firm has a librarian, ask for a research consultation. That librarian will know what the favorite “go to” resources are for a subject & may have researched similar projects in the past.  You can also contact the UW Law Library Reference Desk for help at (608)262-3394, email: or CHAT. 
  2. Create a chart - to help visualize your research strategy & to brainstorm for keywords.
  3. Keep track of what databases & print sources you checked and what search terms you use. Use this to refer to if you need to recreate a search. Finally, time stamp your research. 
  4. Case Law - if you don’t know anything about the issue, begin with secondary sources. Once you find a good case, use a Citators, for example: Keycite, Shepards, & Bcite.
  5. State statutes – To find several state statutes on a topic, look for a 50 state survey in HeinOnline (available through the UW Law Library) or Lexis+ or Westlaw.
  6. Reminder: During the summer you have access to Lexis+, Westlaw, & Bloomberg Law.  You can access library databases off campus using your NetID.

Legislative Histories: Federal & State Resources

Submitted by Jenny Zook, Reference Librarian on April 27, 2022

This article appears in the categories: Law Library