Attorneys are busy individuals, sometimes working dozens of cases at once. Therefore, they must delegate much of their work to assistants, such as a legal researcher. A legal researcher is responsible for researching case law, litigation, chains of evidence and anything else that can help a lawyer or law firm win a case. This can be exciting work with a great deal of responsibility, but there is a high level of competition for these positions.
The requirements to become a legal researcher are vague, and may vary depending on where you want to work. Law Firm A, for example, might require you to have an undergraduate law degree, while Law Firm B might require a degree in any field relating to the law. Other employers might not require a degree at all, depending on their needs.
The job of a legal researcher is to find information and cases that supports a particular legal position. For example, if you work for a criminal defense lawyer, he might want you to find cases in which a defendant was acquitted based on a particular defense. This means long hours with legal books and on the Internet, and an education will help you to do your job more efficiently even if one is not required.
Learn to Research Cases
According to AcademicInfo.net, a legal researcher must know how to use all forms of research methods to find the information he needs. This, of course, includes law books that your employer will likely have on hand, but you must also be proficient in using the Internet for research. Most law firms subscribe to detailed and sophisticated databases of information, such as LexisNexis and Westlaw. You should also be able to use the database at your local law library.
Practice is the key to becoming a legal researcher. Even if you are taking courses in college, take time on the evenings or weekends to research various aspects of law. Learn how to find particular laws in various jurisdictions and how to decipher the wording of legal texts. The more you work at it, the faster you will become.
Decide Where You Want to Work
All different types of legal professionals hire legal researchers to help them in their practices. Potential employers range from private attorneys to large law firms to state and local government agencies. Even the FBI and other law enforcement bureaus may hire a legal researcher. The question is where you want to work and where you will be rewarded best.
Large law firms, for example, might pay a legal researcher more, while government agencies might have better benefits. Explore different options as you pursue your education to decide where you will best fit in.
A legal researcher must be organized, focused, capable of working for long hours on tedious assignments, and very accurate in gathering information. If you fill those qualities, consider a career as a legal researcher.
AcademicInfo.net, Online Law & Criminal Justice Degree Programs