Tip of the Week: Legal Research Instruction

December 9, 2013

Are you still mulling over your Spring course schedule? Although Legal Research is not a required course here at Yale Law School, we offer several electives for your consideration. Research courses range from 1-3 credits, with some meeting over the whole term and others meeting over half of the term, before or after spring break. 

Here are the research courses offered this Spring. Please contact Julie Graves Krishnaswami, if you have any questions.

Credit: 2 or 3 Units (variable course). This course satisfies the skills requirement.  
Offered:  Spring semester (full semester)
Target Audience: All levels. Students writing a substantial paper, who plan on clerking, or working in law practice.
Course Description: An advanced exploration of the specialized methods and sources of legal research in some of the following areas: secondary legal authority, case law, statutory authority, legislative history, court rules and practice materials, and administrative law. The course also covers the legal research process, tracking research as well as other strategies for efficient and effective legal research. Class sessions will integrate the use of online, print, and other research sources. Laptop computer recommended. Students are required to complete a series of assignments, in addition to other course requirements. Students who wish to qualify for a third unit will need to write a paper, in addition to the other course requirements. Class time will be devoted to working through research problems in small groups.  

Credit: 1 Unit
Offered: Spring semester (first seven weeks of the semester, before Spring Break)
Target Audience: All levels. Students who haven’t taken a legal research course before and who need a basic understanding of legal research principles.
Course Description: This course, formerly Efficient Techniques in Legal Research, will instruct students in basic legal research skills, including researching federal case law, legislation, administrative law and secondary sources, using online resources. Students will be required to complete a series of short research assignments. The course will meet once weekly for the first half of the term. The skills requirement may be satisfied by taking this course with another 1 unit legal research course. Minimum enrollment of five required.

Credit: 2-3 units. This course satisfies the skills requirement.    
OfferedSpring semester (full semester)
Target Audience: 2Ls, 3Ls and Second semester 1Ls who are interested in legal history.
Course Description: This seminar will examine the methods and major materials used in American historical legal research, whether for scholarly pursuits or professional advocacy. It will cover early judicial, statutory, and constitutional sources; crime literature; court records; government documents; biographical materials and personal papers of lawyers and judges; other manuscript collections; and early sources of American international law and civil law. Paper required. This course satisfies the skills requirement.  

Credit: 1 unit
Offered: Spring semester (first seven weeks of the term, before Spring Break)
Target Audience: 2Ls, 3Ls and second semester 1Ls interested in foreign and international law, legal scholarship or practice.
Course Description: Specialized Legal Research in Foreign and International Law. 1 unit, credit/fail. Explores methods for finding the major sources of international law, including treaties and customary law; the UN and other inter-governmental organizations; and laws from nations other than the United States. Particular attention is paid to practical research issues and solutions using both print and electronic resources. Research interests of the class and other specialized topics may also be explored. This course will meet weekly for seven weeks in the first half of the term. Minimum enrollment of five required.

Credit: 1 Unit
Offered: Spring Semester (first seven weeks of the semester, before Spring Break)
Target Audience: 2Ls, 3Ls and second semester 1Ls interested in corporate law.
Course Description: This course will include both lecture and discussion on methods and sources in corporate law, including securities law and criminal prosecutions of corporate fraud. Secondary sources will be emphasize, but basic finding-skills will also e address: case-finding, statutes-finding, locating legislative histories, and locating administrative materials.  Online, print, and other resources will be considered throughout.  Three guest speakers are scheduled: one who will present non-law business databases, another who will provide an introduction to reading a financial report, and a third guest (an Assistant U.S. Attorney and YLS alumnus) who will address the use of secondary sources in legal research generally, and with special attention to securities law and corporate fraud. This course will meet weekly in the first half of the term.  The skills requirement will be satisfied by taking this course with another 1-unit legal research course.

Credit: 1 Unit
Offered: Spring Semester (second seven weeks of the semester, after Spring Break)
Target Audience: 2Ls, 3Ls and second semester 1Ls interested in corporate law.
Course Description: : This course introduces students to the inter-disciplinary field of empirical legal research (ELR). ELR involves gathering and analyzing data on individuals, groups, actions, and events. The goal of this course is to introduce students to the field, prepare them for 3-credit empirical courses such as Quantitative Methods and Law and Economics, and provide them with practice in basic study design. Topics covered include basic research terminology, hypothesis and research question construction, methodology selection, and basic statistical analysis. The course will emphasize an applied approach to research grounded in real-world legal issues and praxis. Although the focus of this course is on ELR methods, students will engage empirical data weekly. Students will be evaluated based upon class participation and the completion of an in-class simplified study design that includes: a central hypothesis or research question, brief literature review/description, articulation of the research’s potential significance and impact, sampling plan, and description of the research methodology to be employed.


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