Today’s legal writing question is about the work you do before you write.
Specifically, what research tool or tools do you use? Do you invest in Westlaw or Lexis? Or, do you take advantage of free services like FastCase and Google Scholar? I use Westlaw, and have a feature called Related Documents that allows some limited access to briefs, secondary sources, and trial level pleadings. Do you feel you get your money’s worth if you pay, and do you feel you’re getting what you need if you are using free services?
Reading briefs in other cases helps me structure my arguments, particularly when I haven’t written about a topic I also enjoy reading the opinions in the cases for those briefs because they often differ wildly from the arguments made by counsel in their briefs. Of course, what matters is the reported opinion, but looking at how arguments are crafted is rarely wasted research time.