Without proper case information and citations, litigators may have the courts thinking they’ve plucked an argument or opinion out of oblivion, or even worse, relied on an overturned decision. There are ways litigators can decrease strike rates and win more legal cases through the use of online case law research tools.
Your job as a legal advocate is to persuade your opponents or judges in an engaging and informed way, that they should accept your construction of the facts and legal issues. Identifying sound legal authorities for each proposition can be crucial to achieving a win for your client.
Here are five ways an online case law research tool, like FirstPoint, will help you win more cases:
1. Easy searching
The purpose of legal research is to find solid support for your legal arguments and your case. FirstPoint’s easy subject-based browsing helps legal professionals complete research more quickly and accurately.
It highlights significant, useful and relevant case and legislation relationships and allows you to hone in on only the issues you see as relevant to your set of facts and circumstances. Efficient functionality means you’re not wasting precious time trying to find the right case when you could be working on your strategy to win the case.
2. Relying on ‘good law’
It can be pretty embarrassing if you’re standing in court referring to an out-of-date authority. FirstPoint’s automatic case status flags identify if a case has been overturned or questioned. They help ensure your case references are not only relevant, but still ‘good law’. FirstPoint only notes a case or legislation as ‘considered’ if the court has actually given it some consideration and worked it into the judgment’s ratio. Tracking an authority with FirstPoint yields fewer hits, but they’re more useful – and for advocates, a few decent authorities certainly beats a noisy field of irrelevant contenders.
3. Succinct summaries
If you’re trying to settle a case on behalf of a client or the litigation is in full swing, you may need to absorb case information quickly without being able to read the entire judgment. For a fast brief on selected cases, FirstPoint’s editors provide case-digest notes, which are point-of-law summaries of relevant decisions.
4. Relevant authorities
Stay ahead of other lawyers and litigators by presenting the correct version of a case to court, namely, the authorised, reported version with accurate headnotes. FirstPoint offers subscribers links to Australia’s largest library of authorised and specialist law reports. Advocates can save valuable time by accessing the full text case of an authorised report and viewing all results in a consolidated format or relying on the court-approved summary if they can’t read the whole case.
FirstPoint’s detailed legal classification scheme allows researchers to determine whether a judgment is relevant to the point of law they are researching and provides a mini description of the point(s) of law raised by the judgment. Active breadcrumb trails show you exactly ‘where you are’ in the scheme and provide instant access to similar cases.
Case law research tips
A few final tips to stand you in good stead:
- Create customised alerts so you never miss an important development in your area of practice.
- Search ‘related documents’ for expert commentary, relevant articles, analysis and encyclopaedia content.