Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Oh, I Get It!

Beam light heavenly wisdomI don't know if you know this but I hold classes (at our law library) teaching people how to do their own legal research.  I teach refresher classes for attorneys, I teach paralegals how to build on what they know, and I teach beginning classes to everyone else.  Probably the best thing about teaching legal research is that "Oh, I get it" moment when people finally realize how easy it is to do legal research.  It's like a beam of light reaching down from heaven touching you and enlightening your mind to new views and vistas never before dreamed - at least that's what it was like for one lady I had in my class a while back.

Turns out we were learning how to use the Table of Cases.  The Table of Cases lists all the cases located in a particular book or other legal resource and identifies on what page(s) you can find that case.  The "why" of why you'd want to use a Table of Cases is to avoid having to use (or start with) the general index.  If you have to use the index, that means you don't really know where to start looking (and you could be looking for a long, long time).  If you have the name of a  case (either because you've done some research or someone told you about a case), you have a more definite starting point.  So, with the name of a case (like Blue v. Red), and we look in the Table of Cases alphabetically ("B" for Blue) and the Table of Cases tells me on what page(s) Blue v. Red can be found in that resource.  Piece of Cake!

If you're still confused on what is or how to use the Table of Cases, just go to your local county law library and ask your friendly neighborhood law librarian to help you learn about the Table of Cases (or anything else for that matter - because that's why we're here (to help you help us help you))!