Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Title

New York Legal Research, Third Edition

Publication Date



Until approximately twenty-five years ago, researching judicial opinions was performed primarily using print resources and finding aids. Research texts and courses focused on the use of these print materials but gradually began to include more information about online access to opinions as databases developed ever-more refined and user-friendly ways of assisting researchers. In modern practice, researchers work predominantly on electronic databases and on the open web. While this format shift transforms the approach to finding cases, the fundamental principles of thorough and thoughtful case law research remain largely unchanged. This chapter explores the structure of the New York court system, the components of a judicial opinion, and the essential elements of excellence in researching judicial opinions with emphasis both on electronic access and on the bedrock principles of case law research that apply regardless of the format.


This is from Chapter 4 of New York Legal Research , 3rd ed. by Elizabeth G. Adelman, Theodora Belniak, Courtney L. Selby, Brian Detweiler