By this point in your research you will have:
The next step is to flesh out the case law. Performing a "quick and dirty" search in the case law digests will provide a handful of relevant cases with similar facts or issues. By reading the full text of these, one obtains a good sense of the law on the particular legal issue. There may, however, be no cases directly on point. In that case, you may need to find analogous cases.
The next step is to verify that the cases you are relying on are still good law. As well, you might need to find other cases that flesh out or explain a particular point in your analysis. Searching full text case law databases allows you to zero in on narrow points.
Searching case digests allows you to start case law research from a wide perspective.
There are two types of digests:
Once you determine relevant digests:
You will come across citations to leading cases from your initial research. It is crucial to make sure (1) that the case is still good law, (2) that it has not been reversed on appeal, and (3) that it has or has not been considered in other cases.
There are several competing electronic systems for case history and case treatment information. These tend to provide coverage of recent cases. For comprehensive coverage, especially when noting up older cases, also use the print tools. See the chapter on Noting Up a Case for more information.
At this point, you should have a good idea of the issues. Refine your search by checking the law report and full text databases. The full text databases enable you to focus your research on narrow points that are still unclear. In addition, most full text databases are current and will indicate any recent cases that need to be incorporated into your analysis. There may be topical law report(s) published in the area of your legal research problem. If so, browse the report series indexes to double check for issues and leading cases.
As mentioned earlier, there are several competing electronic research systems from which to choose. Normally you would choose only one system to search. You may or may not need to search the databases that are the equivalent of the printed law reports. However, you should always search a current full text database as a final update for your research.
Searching full text law reports involves a different search technique from searching digests. Your search should be focused on the narrow issues. By this point in your research, you already know the leading cases and the statutory sections. You would not repeat the general search statement from a digest search. On a full text judgment database you would use specific keywords linked with proximity connectors (e.g. within the same paragraph or within so many words). In addition, you may use field restrictions (e.g. within a certain jurisdiction, within a date range).