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Technique of Legal Research for the Practicing Lawyer, 31 Law Library Journal 1 (1938)


Research is a word to conjure with. By its use vast sums of money have been extracted from the treasuries of foundations, corporations and universities, and by devotion to it in action, the ancient world has been transformed into the marvelous world o£ today. There are two kinds o£ research, pure research which seeks to extend the bounds of knowledge by discoveries; and a more humble kind which takes facts already known, assembles them, and classifies them in new ways, thereby bringing to light new relationships·. In this kind of research, one searches again for the innermost meaning of that which is dealt with. It is in this sense that lawyers do research. Not only practicing lawyers, but legislators, judges, and legal writers also engage in this secondary kind of research. They do more than this when they seek not merely legislation and judicial decisions, but all elements which in the end will affect the result. These elements are very numerous and they are constantly changing. It is for this reason that the simple question What is the law on this or that point? is so difficult to answer. For the lawyer knows that quoting the words of a statute or case does not tell what the result of new litigation will be. In other words, behavior changes concerning the pronouncements of legislatures and courts, both on the part of judges and of enforcement officers.

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