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Law: Legal research

Resources for legal research, writing and referencing.

Legal research competencies

Legal research is fundamental to the practice of law and mistakes can be costly.

WA law librarians have collated core competencies (see below) taught at WA law schools and expected by your future employers. This LibGuide and your studies should help to equip you with these research skills before you graduate.

Competencies for ...

  • Understand what is meant by Primary and Secondary sources of law
  • Evaluate the authority of different sources
  • Understand Boolean operators
  • Have effective search strategy skills
  • Understand the relationship between legislation and delegated legislation
  • Locate legislation and delegated legislation from authoritative sources
  • Locate legislation and delegated legislation by subject
  • Discover when legislation and delegated legislation commenced and was in force
  • Discover what legislation and delegated legislation was in force at a certain point in time
  • Check for amendments to legislation
  • Locate previous versions of legislation
  • Understand the difference between numbered, reprinted and compilation versions of legislation
  • Understand the Court hierarchy
  • Understand the case reporting hierarachy
  • Understand the difference between reported and unreported cases
  • Find cases by citation, party names
  • Locate reported cases
  • Locate unreported cases
  • Find cases by subject
  • Locate cases by a defined term or phrase
  • Understand the features of a case citator
  • Locate cases judicially considered
  • Understand the difference between authorised and unauthorised report series
  • Locate an overview of an area of law
  • Find commentary on legislation or cases
  • Find journal articles on a topic or case
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