Pennsylvania Legal Research, now in its second edition, was written to provide a practical introduction to legal research with a special focus on Pennsylvania. It is intended to be of use to students who are beginning their legal careers; to practitioners who may need a concise description of research tools they have not used extensively; to attorneys from other jurisdictions who are experienced legal researchers, but who lack familiarity with basic Pennsylvania sources; and to anyone who needs a practical introduction to legal research, with a focus on Pennsylvania law.
The second edition begins with an overview of the legal research process and a discussion of research methods. The next chapters describe the more specific steps involved in finding and analyzing judicial opinions, statutes, legislative history, constitutional law, administrative law, and rules of court. The original chapter on secondary sources has been expanded and divided into two chapters, Secondary Sources and Practice Materials. This division reinforces the distinction between more scholarly sources, which may be cited as persuasive authority, and more practice-oriented sources, which are useful research tools without being cited themselves. At the end of the book, an Appendix provides guidance on incorporating legal citations into documents, and highlights citation issues that frequently arise when citing Pennsylvania sources. Updating tools are discussed throughout the book rather than in a separate chapter.
The order in which the chapters are assigned in a legal research course can vary. For example, professors who prefer to begin with secondary sources can easily start with those chapters and then return to the earlier chapters on primary sources. The underlying assumption of this edition is that a majority of research will be conducted using online sources; print resources are still acknowledged, but the focus has shifted from choosing between print and online resources to choosing the most efficient research methods for different types of authority.