The Relevance of Research and Writing in a Legal Career
Research and writing are essential tools of craftsmanship in the legal field. Irrespective of the area of practice and position, all lawyers, paralegals, and even judges are expected to be adept at legal writing and research. Whether it is conducting case law and legislation searches to preparing client notes, not only are these tasks and attributes essential to law practice but they also enhance the chances of advancement and hiring in the field. Even though it may sound easy, it takes time and perseverance to cultivate and hone these skills.
Why is legal research relevant?
The germinating seeds of critical reading, writing, and research are sown to the law students from the early years of law school. Among all the other skills taught, research takes the paramount position as it is crucial not only during law school years but also throughout their legal career. In the early days of joining law school, there are mostly research seminars organised by the libraries so that students are accustomed to the resources available to them. Legal research encompasses regulations, statutes, case laws, and even looking for details specific to the client. Having well-honed research skills would help students and lawyers successfully skim the information and differentiate between relevant information from irrelevant.
More often than not, the answer to a complicated legal proposition is not available through an easy google search but requires an in-depth search in different legal databases and reading quality articles. Taking these into consideration, the leading legal database companies like Westlaw and LexisNexis also give online legal research training certification. If you are a law student looking to upgrade your research skills, you should seek help from law school librarians and online legal training courses.
Source: Padhy Ashish, ‘Here Is the Importance of Legal Research in Legal Practice’
Challenges of legal research
Identification of the right issue
It is important to read the legal proposition with great attention to detail as it is not always easy to understand the exact legal question or point of dispute. Sometimes, the real issue is cloaked inside some other secondary problems, and a good researcher should know how to extract the real question in the debate.
Keeping up to date with legal amendments
Laws are volatile and constantly changing with time. Researchers must ensure that they have looked for accurate and amended laws and regulations. Case laws must be checked according to the hierarchy of courts and scrutinised if they are overruled. Application and understanding of the correct law to the facts is highly significant as they directly impact the client's needs and representation. The researcher must learn to analyse the provisions while researching critically, and it is often a long, tedious task.
Searching through the right database
The researcher must take a holistic approach and perform the research task religiously. There are many great legal points that can be discovered if searching on the appropriate platform. One should not limit the search to general search engines like google but expand to undertake specific legal databases of the particular jurisdiction, going through government websites and consultations.
Legal writing is a technical form of writing practiced by legal professionals. It is very precise and is essential for legal drafting. Every point made and argument raised in legal writing has to be relevant and accurate; otherwise, it loses its impact. This makes legal writing very distinctive and challenging. Employers are also looking to hire people who are experienced in legal writing and research, so they do not have to invest time and money in providing such training to new employees. Writing is a journey; you cannot write once and think you have achieved success; you have to keep practicing. Like any other form of writing, legal writing also includes intense proof-reading and editing. Seeking guidance from professors, receiving feedback on your writing, and developing new writing techniques are all part of the growth process.
Lucid, eloquent writing and research are key skills in the legal field. As an indispensable tool, it helps in the overall growth and development of legal careers. Words of a lawyer are of great importance and should be chosen wisely and written well. A well-written document can change the perception of the case and significantly impact your legal career.
By Prerna Deep
 Padhy Ashish, ‘Here Is the Importance of Legal Research in Legal Practice’ (Legodesk, 27 January 2017) <https://legodesk.com/legopedia/importance-legal-research-legal-practice/> accessed 25 July 2020