Library Tips: Getting your first assignment
- First, no one expects you to know everything, relax.
- Always have a pad of paper and pen on you to write down questions as well as make notes regarding the assignment.
- For bill tracking purposes, most assignments have client numbers. Remember to ask for the client number.
- Ask how much time the attorney wants you to spend on the assignment. Note the deadlines.
- After you get your assignment, to verify understanding, review your assignment immediately when you return to your office. Jot down any questions you have.
- Don’t go online immediately. Most firms expect their attorneys to be cost-effective & this includes costs incurred from using a legal database.
- 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
- 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: email@example.com or CHAT.
- Create a chart - to help visualize your research strategy & to brainstorm for keywords.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- The law library has Research Guides for both Wisconsin & Federal Legislative Histories. The guides are available on the Law Library's home page under Research Guides. The guides are listed alphabetically.
- Other Wisconsin Law Resources: For a visual map of how to research legislative history in Wisconsin, the Wisconsin State Law Library has a road map at, https://wilawlibrary.gov/learn/wilegislativehistory.pdf.
- Federal Law – Other federal legislative history databases include Proquest Congressional & Proquest Insights. These databases are listed on the UW Law Library's database page at http://library.law.wisc.edu/databases.html?iSearchType=alpha
Submitted by Jenny Zook, Reference Librarian on April 27, 2022
This article appears in the categories: Law Library