Welcome to the Fundamentals of Legal Research
 [LEGL156)
 Meet your instructor Shawn T. Newman, J.D.
Questions: Email me via this course page.  I typically respond within 24 hours.   

Overview:  This is an on-line course designed to introduce you to the fundamentals of legal research.  The course consists of three independent components:

  1. The main online course based on the text (see below) and selected materials.*
  2. Lexis Nexis Learn (11 module self-paced class MUST be completed by 3/4/18).  Lexis Learn is on the LexisNexis law school homepage and consists of 5 to 10 minute modules.  [See Week Zero for link] Students watch a video and answer questions using Lexis Advance.  This is a self-paced program and is more about how to do legal research and isn’t necessarily specific to Lexis Advance.  Do not procrastinate!      
  3. Lexis Nexis Paralegal Certification  (MUST be completed by 3/4/18).  The certificate is separate from Lexis Learn.  Follow the directions set forth in the LexisNexis Student Paralegal Certification Access Guide.  [See Week Zero for link]   Do not procrastinate!  The certification can be very useful for your employment prospects.  The Student Certificate of Mastery is the 5 part modules on LexisNexis University which last about 30 minutes each. Student watch the module and then take an exam after it is finished.  After completing all 5 videos/exams they can request their certificate.  See Lexisnexis Student Paralegal Certification Access Guide

*The course is divided into 10 modules.  Each module has an introductory page which sets forth specific expectations aligned with materials, activities and assignments.  As set forth in Week Zero, you will learn how to use a variety of free resources set forth in Appendix A of your text (e.g. Google, Bing, peoplesearch, zabasearch) and fee based resources (e.g. Lexis Nexis and Case Maker).   

Start Here:  It is important to get started ASAP and manage your time wisely.  Begin by reading the useful Online Learning Tips and Successful Behaviors Checklist found in the student handbook at pages 43-45.  Do not wait for me to contact you - online classes are very time-consuming.  Success requires hard work, motivation, persistence, discipline and effort.  If you log into the class regularly, submit all materials on time, and master the content materials, you have the potential to excel, not only in this class, but as a professional paralegal.  See: SPSCC's Paralegal Program videonks to an external site.

Course Requirements & Resources:  

  1. Legal 151, 152 or instructor's permission.
  2. Introduce yourself by end of first week by competing the initial class surveynks to an external site..
  3. Book: Amy E. Sloan, Basic Legal Research: Tools and Strategies (Aspen Coursebook) 6th Edition [ISBN-10:145485040X and ISBN-13:978-1454850403].
  4. Lexis Nexis account (from SPSCC): ASAP get your Lexis Nexis account ID from Tamara Berbells, Administrative Assistant, SPSCC Social Science & Business Division [tberbells@spscc.edu (596-5256)]. Use it to complete a separate online "Lexis Nexis Learn class.  [Go to LexisNexis for Law School and then click Lexis Learn in the upper menu and search SPSCC LEGL 156 or instructor ("Shawn man")].  As set forth in Week Zero, you must create a separate account at LexisNexis University [LNU] to do the Lexis Nexis certificate

Course Objectives:  

  1. Identify and compare the sources of law.
  2. Engage in legal research using traditional and technology-based tools.
  3. Create and apply legal research plans or checklists using search terms. 
  4. Identify, validate and use legal citations.
  5. Identify and use secondary sources.
  6. Demonstrate the ability to do case research.
  7. Demonstrate the ability to do statutory research, including legislative histories.
  8. Demonstrate the ability to do administrative law research. 
  9. Complete the Lexis Learn (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. course.
  10. Complete the Basic LexisNexis certificate (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. and provide proof.

Assessment:  All assignments must be turned in by the stated deadlines.  I do not grant extensions unless there are extraordinary circumstances.  Do your own work.  Assignments will typically be graded within one week. Students will be assessed based on a total of 1000 total points and the college Grading Policy set forth on page 11 of the SPSCC College Catalog You can track your grade via the "grades" tab at left. 

  • Quizzes/Exercises: 500 points (5 @ 100 points each)
  • Lexis Nexis Learn Class:  250 points (11 module self-paced class MUST be completed by 3/4/18).  
  • Lexis Nexis Certification:   250 points (MUST be completed by 3/4/18)

Accommodations:  If you have any issues with Canvas, contact the Help Desk at 360-596-5544.  Open computer labs are available on the Olympia campus in Building 34 Rooms 103, 105 and 106 and on the Lacey Campus in Building 1, Room 181.  Call to check availability (360) 596-5273.  Advising and support (including peer mentoring, veteran and access services) are available from Advising Center


Revised: 12/27/2017