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Summer Intern & New Attorney Research Survival Guide

Tips for new attorneys to smooth their transition from researching as a law student to researching in a professional setting.

First Steps

Talk to the librarians on campus before your summer position begins

Members of the GMU Law Reference staff are glad to sit down and discuss what research may be like in the type of organization where you will work this summer. Each situation will be different, whether you are going to work for a government, law firm (big or boutique), corporate law office, or court. We can help identify research materials that may be useful for your particular area of focus, including jurisdiction specific resources.

When you get there, find out what resources are available or preferred

  • Does the organization have a library or have access to the local public law or bar library?
  • Do they prefer you to use their subscription passwords instead of your school login? (If you are instructed to use your login, confirm with the Law Library Reference Office or the appropriate vendor that you are allowed to use it for non-academic purposes.) 
  • Do they have subscriptions for practice tools that you have not used in school (i.e. WK Cheetah (aka CCH), Securities Mosaic, or LexMachina)?
  • Ask the attorney(s) you will be working for whether their practice has particular “go to” resources.

These types of questions may be addressed during your orientation. If not, asking during orientation shows you are conscientious researcher. Seek guidance on whether you can use your law school resources on the job. Some firms do frown on that.