It’s that time of year when those of us who teach legal research ponder the numerous legal research textbook options to decide which one we will require our students to purchase in the fall. RIPS produced a Legal Research Text Annotated Bibliography in Spring 2006 that I’ve turned to numerous times for advice on what books to purchase. I hope an update is forthcoming.
To contribute at least one title to this worthwhile project, I will provide a review of Osbeck’s “Impeccable Research: A Concise Guide to Mastering Legal Research Skills” (West 2010). Information from the publisher can be found here.
Author: Mark K. Osbeck
Length: 147 pages (including index)
Intended audience: Law students and attorneys
Major strengths: This is a book about developing research skills by talking about legal research strategy. While many legal research texts tell the reader how to research (process), less attention is given to troubleshooting or provide answers to perennial questions such as “I Don’t Know How Much Time I Should Devote to a Given Project” and “I Don’t Know How to Organize the Results of My Research for my Final Work Product.” There is a chapter devoted to answering these questions and others as well as a chapter for tips for summer associates and the new lawyer.
Major weaknesses: What prevents this book from being one-stop shopping for a legal research textbook is its scant coverage of legal resources. Secondary sources are covered in 15 pages; primary sources are covered in 17 pages. However, for some situations, this depth of coverage may be more than sufficient, so I hate to classify this as a weakness of the book.
Recommendation: Recommended as a supplementary text for introductory legal research courses or an advanced legal research class. It would also be a great reference on research strategies for new attorneys. This would be a reference book that I would encourage students not to sell back to the bookstore at the end of the semester.