Course Title: Legal research method

Part B: Course Detail

Teaching Period: Term1 2012

Course Code: LAW5200

Course Title: Legal research method

School: 650T TAFE Business

Campus: City Campus

Program: C6106 - Advanced Diploma of Legal Practice

Course Contact : Doug Gourlay

Course Contact Phone: +61 3 9925-5944

Course Contact Email:doug.gourlay@rmit.edu.au


Name and Contact Details of All Other Relevant Staff

Judy Dredge (Sessional Teacher)   judith.dredge@rmit.edu.au

Nominal Hours: 51

Regardless of the mode of delivery, represent a guide to the relative teaching time and student effort required to successfully achieve a particular competency/module. This may include not only scheduled classes or workplace visits but also the amount of effort required to undertake, evaluate and complete all assessment requirements, including any non-classroom activities.

Pre-requisites and Co-requisites

Pre-requisites: VU20111 Legal Process

Course Description

To provide learners with the knowledge and skills necessary to undertake research as might be required of a person working in a legal office or in associated fields in the public and private sectors.


National Codes, Titles, Elements and Performance Criteria

National Element Code & Title:

VU20124 Legal research method


Learning Outcomes


Learning Outcome 1 - Analyse a fact situation and identify the research questions raised. Identify and propose legal categories to which those questions relate.
Assessment criteria
1.1 Analyse a fact situation in relation to case study material and identify and discuss the research questions raised with reference to subject matter and persons involved.
1.2 Apply case study material to examine and evaluate legal categories to which a research question may relate with reference to cause of action (or defence) and remedies sought.

Learning Outcome 2 - Analyse and evaluate sources of legal information.
Assessment criteria
2.1 Identify sources of legal collections and examine and discuss the legal materials held by those libraries.
2.2 Determine government or community organisations that may be a source of legal information.
2.3 Identify and evaluate sources of legal information on the Internet.

Learning Outcome 3 - Determine the format for the citation of sources of legal information.
Assessment criteria
3.1 Analyse and detail conventions in legal citation.
3.2 Determine the method of citing cases.
3.3 Assess and specify the methods of citing Acts of Parliament, regulations and other delegated legislation.
3.4 Determine the methods of citing secondary sources of legal information.

Learning Outcome 4 - Determine and evaluate techniques for searching for legal information in computer databases.
Assessment criteria
4.1 Distinguish between the different ways of searching for computer based information with reference to full text searching and hypertext navigation.
4.2 Determine methods of free text searching for information.
4.3 Evaluate the use of hypertext for text searching and navigation. Include reference to access mechanisms, cross referencing, navigation functions and working with the text.

Learning Outcome 5 - Identify secondary sources of legal information, search secondary sources and locate and analyse legal information relevant to case study material.
Assessment criteria
5.1 Analyse textbooks and legal encyclopaedias.
5.2 Analyse indexes to legal periodicals.
5.3 Evaluate on-line computer based resources with reference to full-text electronic databases and Internet.
5.4 Search secondary sources and locate and analyse legal information relating to case study material.

Learning Outcome 6 - Determine methods of searching for case law and locate and analyse case law relevant to case study material.
Assessment criteria
6.1 Determine methods of finding case law on a particular subject.
6.2 Specify methods of finding the subsequent history of a case.
6.3 Determine methods of finding case notes and case citations.
6.4 Search for and analyse case law relating to case study material.

Learning Outcome 7 - Evaluate methods of searching for legislation and locate and analyse legislation relevant to case study material.
Assessment criteria
7.1 Evaluate methods of finding legislation on a particular subject, and whether or not it has been amended.
7.2 Determine methods of finding whether legislation has been reprinted,
7.3 Assess resources available to establish whether legislation has been judicially in relation to annotation services and full-text electronic databases.
7.4 Search for and analyse legislation relevant to case study material.

Learning Outcome 8 - Analyse and determine methods of finding delegated legislation and locate and analyse delegated legislation relevant to case study material.
Assessment criteria
8.1 Specify methods of finding delegated legislation on a particular subject and whether it has been amended.
8.2 Determine methods of finding whether delegated legislation has been reprinted.
8.3 State and analyse resources available to determine whether delegated legislation has been judicially with reference to annotations and full-text electronic databases.
8.4 Search for and analyse delegated legislation relevant to case study material.


Details of Learning Activities

Students will study Legal Research Method skills and theory in classroom sessions and through prescribed exercises and assessment work. These concepts will also be explored through the investigation of appropriate real world and simulated environments.


Teaching Schedule

Week BeginningTopicAssessment
 Week 1 – 6 Feb Orientation -overview of course Completion of class exercises (weekly) 50%
 Week 2 – 13 Feb What is Legal Research? 
 Week 3 – 20 Feb Finding Sources of Legal Information 
 Week 4 – 27 Feb Electronic Searching  
 Week 5 – 5 Mar Introduction to Legal Resources on the Internet  
 Week 6 –12 Mar Legal Citation  
 Week 7 – 19 Mar Researching Secondary Sources of Law: Textbooks  
 Week 8 – 26 Mar Researching Secondary Sources of Law: Law Journal Articles 
 Week 9 – 2 Apr Researching Secondary Sources Online 
 Mid-Semester Break (Student Vacation) - 6 to 10 April 
 Week 10 – 16 Apr Finding Case Law on a Subject 
 Week 11 – 23 Apr Finding Judicial Consideration of a Case 
 Week 12 – 30 Apr Searching Full-Text Electronic Case Law Databases 
 Week 13 – 7 May Finding and Updating Legislation 
 Week 14 – 14 May Finding Legislation on a Subject 
 Week 15 – 21 May Finding Delegated Legislation Research Assignment -20%
 Week 16 – 26 May Test Test (2 hour – open book) 30%
 Week 17 – 4 June Student feedback and consultations 

The total number of scheduled hours of teaching, learning and assessment involved in this course will include all planned activities. This may incorporate face-to-face classes, lectures, workshops and seminars; wherever possible workplace visits, online learning and other forms of structured teaching and learning. The total scheduled hours includes the amount of effort required to undertake, evaluate and complete all assessment requirements, including observation of work performance, discussions with supervisors and others providing third party evidence and one on one and group assessment sessions with students.


Learning Resources

Prescribed Texts

Bott B, Cowley J & Falconer L, Nemes & Coss’ Effective Legal Research (

LexisNexis Butterworths, 4 ed,2010)

OR Milne S, and Tucker K, A Practical Guide to Legal Research (Thomson Reuters, 2ed, 2010)

Australian Guide to Legal Citation 3ed (Melbourne University Law Review Assoc Inc, 2010) (http://mulr.law.unimelb.edu.au/aglc.asp)


References

Butterworths Legal Research Guide (Sydney: Butterworths, 1995)

Campbell E, Fox R & Kewley G, Students' Guide to Legal Writing (Sydney: Federation Press, 1998)

Campbell E, Poh York L and Tooher J, Legal Research: Materials and Methods 4th ed (Sydney: LBC Information Services, 1996)

Cook, Creyke et al, Laying Down the Law 6th ed (Sydney: LexisNexis Butterworths, 2005)

Dayal S, e-law research (Sydney: Butterworths 2000)

Enright, C, Studying Law 5th ed (Sydney: Federation Press, 1995)

Hutchinson T, Researching and Writing in Law 2nd ed (Sydney: Lawbook Co 2006)

McGregor – Lowndes M and Davidson A, The Internet for Lawyers (Sydney: LBC Information Services, 1997)

McNamara L & Lynch A, Australian Legal Research – Exercises & Tasks 3rd ed (Sydney: LexisNexis Butterworths, 2004)

Milne S and Tucker K, A Practical Guide to Legal Research (Sydney: Lawbook Co, 2008)

Mitchell A D and Voon T, Legal Research Manual (Sydney: LBC Information Services, 2000)

Research Staff School of Law Deakin University, Researching Australian Law (Sydney: LBC Information Services, 1997)

Rozenberg P, Australian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation 2nd ed (Sydney: Lawbook Co, 2003)

Stuhmcke A, Legal Referencing (Sydney: Butterworths, 1998)

Watt R, Concise Legal Research 5th ed (Sydney: Federation Press, 2004)

Wolski B, Field D and Bahrij J, Legal Skills A Practical Guide for Students (Sydney: Lawbook Co, 2006)


Other Resources

Online Resources

Australian Legal Sites (http://www.dlsweb.rmit.edu.au/just5010)
Austlii (http://www.austlii.edu.au)
ComLaw (http://www.comlaw.gov.au)
Victorian Law Today (http://www.legislation.vic.gov.au)

Access the following online full-text legal databases via the RMIT library’s Search it page (http://www.rmit.edu.au/library)

CCH Online (http://www.cch.com.au)
HeinOnline (http://heinonline.org)
Lawbook Online (http://www.thomson.com.au)
LawOne (http://www.timebase.com.au/index.cfm)
LexisNexis AU (http://http://www.lexisnexis.com.au)


Overview of Assessment

Assessment will be by various methods as outlined for each learning outcome and may be assessed separately or together.  Assessments may include:

• Class tests
• Written assignments
• Practical exercises
• Class discussion
• Use of electronic databases

Students are advised that they are likely to be asked to personally demonstrate their assessment work to their teacher to ensure that the relevant competency standards are being met.


Assessment Tasks

Assessment that the learning outcomes have been achieved will be by:

1. Class Exercises  (13)                 50%
Student work will be assessed on the completion and the quality of weekly exercises submitted to teachers.

2. Legal Research Assignment    20%
Student work will be assessed by the quality of the assignment meeting the assignment criteria, appropriate use of language and correct referencing techniques.

3. Test (2 hour, open book)            30%
Student learning will be assessed by marks achieved the the test.
                                                                                                           

To pass this course students must satisfactorily complete all 3 assessmenttasks and have a total mark of not less than 50%.

Submission Requirements

Assessment tasks need to be submitted electronically via blackboard. In order for timely feedback on your class exercises and file work a hard copy must also be submitted when requested.

You should:
• Ensure that you submit assessments on or before the due date. If your performance in the assessment is affected by unexpected circumstances, you should consider applying for Special Consideration. Information on the process and application forms is available at http://rmit.edu.au/browse;ID=ls0ydfokry9rz website.
• Always retain a copy of your assessment tasks. (hard copy and soft copy)
• When you submit work for assessment at RMIT University you need to use a cover sheet that includes a declaration and statement of authorship. You must complete, sign and submit a cover sheet with all work you submit for assessment, whether individual or group work. On the cover sheet you declare that the work you are presenting for assessment is your own work. An assignment cover sheet for submission of work for assessment is available on blackboard.
• Each page of your assessment should include footer with your name, student number, the title of the assessment, unit code and title and page numbers

In accordance with RMIT policy all assignments must be submitted through Turnitin prior to electronic submission.


Assessment Matrix

  Learning OutcomeClass ExercisesTestAssignment
1. Analyse a fact situation and identify the research questions raised. Identify and propose legal categories to which those questions relate. X
 XX
2. Analyse and evaluate sources of legal information. X X 
3. Determine the format for the citation of sources of legal information. X X 
4. Determine and evaluate techniques for searching for legal information in computer databases. X X 
5. Identify secondary sources of legal information, search secondary sources and locate and analyse legal information relevant to case study material. X XX
6. Determine methods of searching for case law and locate and analyse case law relevant to case study material. X XX
7. Evaluate methods of searching for legislation and locate and analyse legislation relevant to case study material. X XX
8. Analyse and determine methods of finding delegated legislation and locate and analyse delegated legislation relevant to case study material. X X 

Course Overview: Access Course Overview