Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

First Year Legal Research Guide

This guide provides resources to help new Scalia Law students become more familiar with legal research tools and strategies.

The Legal Research Process

When you're getting started, legal research can seem intimidating. It doesn't need to be. By following the four steps listed here you'll be on track to successfully completing most research projects. If you need help on any of the specific steps listed here — maybe you aren't familiar with terms & connectors searching — please reach out to the reference office at lawref@gmu.edu or stop by our office. 

As you follow these steps remember that it's okay to go back to step one if you feel confused or realize that you need to expand your research to include a new area. Having a reasonable understanding of the topic you're researching will help you both in sorting through your results and crafting your searches.

This is meant as a big picture overview. Your particular question or assignment may require modifying this approach. For example, your supervisor may expressly say they are only interested in cases from a certain jurisdiction. If that's the case, you wouldn't want to waste time with Step 3. 

Note: Click the "Menu" icon (three horizontal lines) in the top left corner to view a full screen version of this document.

Helpful Links: