A contributing author to Justis, Mukta Balroop, a Chevening Scholar, and LLM student provides guidance for students required to find and analyse case law as part of their degree. This post provides an introduction to law students, including those who take part in mooting competitions, for conducting legal research using JustisOne.
As a law student, it is not easy to stand out in a highly competitive crowd…
However, one way to stand out, when answering essay type or problem-based scenarios, is to ensure that you invest time conducting thorough research.
One must be able to satisfy the examiner that in-depth research of case law and relevant statutes (if applicable) were conducted, from which a logical and coherent analysis and answer was formulated. This process requires precious time and patience.
In today’s technological age, it is a fair assumption that all students use various online resources to do legal research. But not all online methods have an easy-to-use and result-oriented interface, that enable you to understand the relevance of a case. Such an interface makes the best use of a student’s time.
Finding relevant and important cases can be pivotal to building a strong argument, it is therefore good to ensure you are checking different databases of cases – this is where JustisOne can help.
Since JustisOne has no requirements regarding what should be entered in the search bar, for example, use of Boolean operators or particular words, it could be called the ‘search engine’ of online legal libraries. This is especially true as JustisOne allows a researcher to find cases from over 25 common law jurisdictions, and 120 other online services, while also providing links to those cases. Thus, even if JustisOne does not have full text of a judgment, this certainly saves time as it links you as a student to any service online that has it, whether subscription-based or not.
For example, if researching contributory negligence in Canada, I may come across the Court of Appeal (British Columbia) case Nance v British Columbia Electric Rly. Company Ltd  AC 601. Although the full judgment is not available on JustisOne, you can choose a selection of other sources that provide access to the case.However, before you do link to another source, you may notice the notification ‘Heard in a higher court’. The menu adjacent to the notification will take you to the case heard in a higher court, in this instance the case was subsequently heard in the Privy Council. You can then view the cited cases, citing cases, and link out to the sources that house the full-text judgment.
By not limiting the results to Justis’ database, JustisOne enables you to find relevant and related cases.
As a student, sometimes when taking notes in a lecture, you may not catch the full name or citation of a case despite being able to note some of the facts or the name of the judge. This information if entered in the general search bar of JustisOne would return search results from which, more than likely, would enable you to find the case you were looking for.
For example, a search of ‘‘right to privacy Trinidad’’ takes a researcher promptly to the relevant case(s) from Trinidad and Tobago: Ho v Simmons TT 2015 HC 312, together with other cases which may or may not be relevant.
Or, if one remembers a specific or random phrase, this could be searched – for example if the researcher knows it’s a divorce matter and remembers something about ‘Alice in Wonderland’ being mentioned in class, they could search ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and ‘divorce’ in the search bar. The former term should of course, be put in inverted commas to ensure its found as a phrase and voila! The family law case of Mills v Mills BS 1976 SC 1 from Bahamas is returned, top of the result list.
Alternatively, if you remember the name of the judge, this can also be searched for using the Advanced Search form.
These examples highlight the effectiveness of JustisOne’s legal taxonomy, i.e. how it classifies cases by words and phrases. Due to its vast size, it is intended that relevant search results would be returned for a broadly worded search, which you can then refine with more specific search terms.
Whilst a researcher may opt to use the Advanced Search function to enter specifics like title, or year, it is not mandatory to do so at first instance, contrary to what some may perceive as the norm for online legal libraries. Instead, personally, I prefer to use this Advanced Search function secondary to the main search bar, as a way to narrow the search results.
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