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Summer Clerks Research Guide

Strategies and research tips for working law students

1. Ask yourself: who cares about my topic or legal issue?

Tip: Your policy research will be helped by knowing who cares about the issues.

Knowing who cares gives you

  • search terms
  • starting websites
  • policy and data
  • multi-state surveys

Who cares is often an agency, advocacy organization, or think tank. For example, if you were looking for tax policy, your list of who cares may include:

  • Internal Revenue Service (IRS) (agency)
  • California Tax Service Center (agency)
  • Joint Committee on Taxation (JTC) (congress'l committee)
  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce (advocate)
  • OECD Centre for Tax Policy (advocate)
  • Brooking's Institute (think tank)
  • Professor Marian (UCI Law) (scholar)

2. Conduct a literature review

Tip: Conduct an early literature review for background and references for expanding your search.

Identify concepts (ideas or thesis)

  • Start to brainstorm by talking to people and looking at Google.
  • Organize your concepts into an outline; take care to isolate issues and research questions.

Put concepts into words

  • Use the names of those "who care," and any known laws.
  • Consider different expressions or spellings, like "antitrust" and "monopoly."
  • Remember that there are often different ways to describe concepts that arise from perspective, like “global warming” versus “climate change."

Look for a mix of books and articles using a mix of sources.