Best practice: Tips for getting the most out of your legal research

Best practice: Tips for getting the most out of your legal research

Are you reading fact or opinion? In fact, these days what constitutes as a fact? How do you ever really know the difference?

If you have ever run an internet search and remained dubious about the results, you’re not the only one. These days, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find trusted information sources on the internet. In fact, 70% of the UK are concerned that what they read online is untrue.

Research has shown that it costs five times more to attract a new customer than it does to retain an existing one. With an online search, it is almost impossible to be sure of the validity of the data you are looking at, or whether you are reading the absolute latest information.

Can we, and should we, trust those free online sources with our reputation? How much time is wasted checking and validating free information? Could your business be better served by improving the research and checking process within your team?


Don’t go it alone


Most people would agree: checking your work is important. Whether this process involves a friend reading over what you’ve written, or a colleague using tracked changes to give you their thoughts on sentence structure or style. A second opinion makes a difference.

Unfortunately, for in-house lawyers, this process is not that straightforward. Even if the error itself appears small, the potential ramifications of a document going out referencing the wrong client, case law or sum of money, are hugely significant. With in-house legal teams consistently trying to prove their value to the business, the last thing you need is a 'small' error chipping away at your reputation.

Currently, we are seeing lawyers turn to technology, such as Lexis®Draft, to support them in fulfilling their jobs more efficiently.  Technology can allow them to focus on what really matters: their legal work.

Technology adoption can help lawyers complete client queries faster, spend more time focusing on the client issues directly, and focus on the legal problem itself. Software can give you instant clarification on points of law, give practical guidance and provide links to primary sources and daily alerts on key developments in your practice area. Typographical or editing errors can be checked by technology that understands legal writing. It can even spot and fix referencing and pagination errors.

With Lexis®PSL and Lexis®Draft, you essentially broaden your team of specialist lawyers. They ensure the products and tools are always up-to-date and relevant.

Documentation and drafts take a significant amount of time to produce and review. If you can increase productivity and accuracy by checking documents faster, you will have more time to focus on your next challenge. In addition, you can be confident that the information you are sharing is correct.




Let technology help you with the legwork


Considering the demands of the profession today, in-house legal teams and general counsels are finding new ways to be efficient in researching client queries, checking their work and drafting documentation.

A key challenge is that legal teams need to communicate with business leaders, who expect them to instantly offer accurate legal and regulatory information. Contracts are also expected to go out of the door seamlessly, without error or misinterpretations. That’s a lot of legwork for anyone. Not to mention tackling the inevitable pile of tasks that build up: from practice compliance, adherence to constantly changing SRA regulations, keeping up-to-date on legal changes, staff management, marketing – the list goes on.

Investing in the correct software application can create efficiencies in drafting and documenting. Using the right software, with just one click, you can quickly access all the law you need. Immediately access the toolkits, checklists and practice notes relevant to your work. Knowing the important legislation is one thing, but quickly understanding what practically needs to be considered and done, is another.

If a trained PSL has previously trodden that path, recorded the information with direct links to primary sources and case law, why not use it to get a step ahead?

Using legal tech is a bit like adding an extra resource to your team – you can bolster the depth and breadth of your casework, and free up time to address other things.


‘Layer’ your research approach


It is unequivocally important to ground your argument in authoritative primary sources. But, research doesn’t need to be time consuming. You can use technology to make it more efficient. Tools, like Lexis®PSL, allow you to ‘layer’ your research approach. Quickly read summaries, dive into practice notes or, with one click, read the detail.

Depending on the scenario, it is not always necessary to peruse the detailed case law and legislation – how the law has changed over time, the in-depth case notes, and so on. In many cases, this information is only needed if a previous version of the law applies.

The law, and certainly an in-house lawyer’s role, can be incredibly complex, and these days, increasingly time-pressured. There will be instances that require time and detail, and those that can be completed quickly without too much research. Find the balance between the two and use a tool, like Lexis®PSL, that gives you the high-level and detailed view on the law.

So, there is no need to put your company's and your reputation on the line. LexisNexis gives you access to the original case law and legislation, factual summaries of the law and implementation notes. It offers software and smart precedents that make your life simpler. It offers intelligent tools that proofread your work from a lawyer’s viewpoint. It is never worth the risk of not checking your work.


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About the author:

Amy is an established writer and researcher, having contributed to publications, such as The Law Society, LPM, City A.M. and Financial IT. Her role at LexisNexis UK involved leading content and thought leadership, as well as writing research reports, including "The Bellwether Report 2020, Covid-19: The next chapter" and "Are medium-sized firms the change-makers in legal?"