Russo Law LLC founder Lou Russo provided legal research tips in an article titled
Many lawyers are often so focused on finding the answer to a question in caselaw that they sometimes neglect to understand the outcome of the case in which the legal principle is discussed.
Modern research tools (thankfully) allow you to jump directly to relevant search terms in a case so you can quickly assess whether the point of law answers your question or supports your position. That, however, is only half the battle. You must next go back and read the entire decision to understand the facts. Why? If the facts of that case are distinguishable from your own, then the case citing to it might not be persuasive. Moreover, a case may have a finding about another issue that you might not notice because you simply click to see the next highlighted search term. As a result, I always limit the results of my initial broad search to only show the cases that have the holding that I am looking to obtain for my clients in litigation (having a motion to dismiss or summary judgment granted or denied, for example). If you don’t do this, your clever adversary will point to this case at oral argument as evidence that you agree with his or her position. Don’t fall into that trap! Whenever possible, only cite to cases that have the holding you are looking to obtain.”
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