How extensive does the professor want your research to be? Does he or she want a few articles and books providing an overview on a particular topic, or are he or she looking for something more in-depth?
Is the research limited to a certain jurisdiction(s), court, or date range?
Are there any key authors or works that should be consulted?
Understand your professor's expectations for the project.
When is the deadline? If you are given multiple assignments, which one is the highest-priority?
How much time are you expected to spend on the assignment?
What is the best way to communicate with the Professor?
What format does the Professor want the work product to be in?
Develop your research plan.
Identify keywords that you can use for searching databases and other legal resources. Consider synonyms and alternative terms.
Make sure you understand the relevant jurisdiction.
Identify useful secondary sources. Ask your Professor if there is a treatise, loose-leaf service, journal, or other source you should use to start your research.
Ask about important terms of art and leading cases.
Determine what types of materials you should be consulting (cases, statutes, international treaties, journal articles, etc.). TheLegal Research Checklist can help you consider all the different types of information that might be helpful for legal research.