A question I get a lot of from people who do their own research is, "How do I know when I've done enough research?" Most always my answer is, "When you start seeing the same thing over and over and over again you can stop. In a way, sometimes when you're doing extensive legal research it feels like you're chasing your tail - and that's not a bad thing. It's just the research gods telling you you are on the right track. Let me elucidate.
Say you're researching something about Foreclosures (specifically regarding rescue scams). You'll probably start with Black's Law Dictionary (West) to get a basic definition. Then over to to the United States Code you find information about rescue scams is under title 42 USCA §1801 (for reference purposes, the "§" symbol means "section").
- American Jurisprudence 2nd (AmJur) and look in under Consumer and Borrower Protection § 250.20 and find a whole lot of other information on foreclosure stuff;
- Then you mosey over to American Law Reports (ALR) and find pages and pages of information on foreclosures;
- Then maybe take a look at Words and Phrases (West) and look for cases dealing with foreclosures and scams.
- Then you you head over to Corpus Juris Secundum (CJS) and look under Mortgages § 641;
- Then over to Forclosures (NCLS) for a discussion on all things foreclosures;
- Then you head over to Federal Procedure, Lawyers Edition § 44:174.60 (Warning of Foreclosure Rescue Scams);
- Then you head over to the Federal Digest, 4th Edition to look for Federal cases regarding forclosures;
- Then you might use WestlawNext (my personal favorite when it comes to online legal research);
- Then you might take a quick look at the Decennial Digest (West) just to see how other states have dealt with foreclosures;
- and finally you'll want to Shepardize or use Key Cite in WestlawNext to make sure your cases and codes are current and relevant.
At some point in all of this, you're going to see the same things over and over again and that's when you'll realize you've probably found all of what you need to find on that topic. Now you can go home knowing that if there is anything you've missed odds are it's not all that important, anyway.
So stop with the worrying and know you're on top of your game (because you've been reading this awesome blog about all things legal research and it just told you you were on top of your game) and get with the writing of your motions or briefs or complaints or appeals or whatever it was you came to your local county law library to do research for in the first place.