The below boxes will provide a broad overview of how your research process should look, and tips on why and how you should use different resources. Please consult the links at the bottom of each box where appropriate, and contact the law library reference desk at email@example.com if you experience difficulty accessing these resources.
Big tips to keep in mind:
(1) At the very beginning of your research, a case is a terrible way to start. Find a secondary source or use an annotated statute
(2) Read the primary law referenced in the secondary source
(3) Review and reanalyze
(4) Stop when your research becomes recursive -- if you keep seeing the same results, you have likely found all you can on a particular topic
NM OneSource is a free resource of primary authority for New Mexico as well as annotated statutes. It is the best place to go for New Mexico legal research, and externships have even reported that they want students to know how to use it in preparation for placement.
Why is it so important?
Unlike Lexis and Westlaw, NM OneSource provides the official New Mexico annotations. Under a statute, you can see the "History" where you will find when the statutes was passed, what session law passed it, and every instance in which it was amended separated by semicolons. Below the history, you can see annotations in a grey box. These annotations contain cross references, links to decisions, and other important information about the statute.
Consult the screen cast video at 16:46 for an example.
Other Free Sources
You may not always get a specific fact pattern to work with, but when you do there are two sources that may make your work much easier to tackle.
(1) Causes of Action (Westlaw)
(2) American Law Reports
Annotations ('articles' or 'reports') can be especially useful for a review of caselaw across jurisdictions relative to a specific fact situation.
Available on both Westlaw and Lexis Nexis platforms
You can KeyCite/Shepardize an ALR to find citing references
See screen cast video at 20:38 for example and use tips
Here are some examples of great secondary sources to help you dive in to your legal research on specific topics:
Law Review Articles
You probably already know that Westlaw and Lexis have the latest-and-greatest law review articles, but as a student you have access to other good sources.
Can be found on the Law Library’s A-Z list of Licensed Databases
Indexes by subject, so it will catch relevant articles that lack the key words you might use to search Westlaw or Lexis Nexis
Coverage goes back to 1908 (farther than Lexis or Westlaw)
Find a relevant article that’s not full text? Email the article citation to the law library (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we will try to find it for you
Can be found on the A-Z list as well
Includes full-text coverage back to issue 1 for most law reviews
Includes some law reviews that WL and LN don’t include
Generally provide a concise summary of terms and topics with annotations. A great starting place because they provide more info than a legal dictionary while being almost as easy to use. They also include citations to cases on your issue, but please note that the encyclopedias themselves are not authoritative--don't cite to them. Here are two widely-used examples:
Provide concise intro to unfamiliar areas of law. Not available on Westlaw, but through the law library's West Academic online study aids subscription. This database can be found under "W" in the law library's A-Z database list.
If you know what you are looking for: you might have a citation in mind either because of your consultation with secondary sources, or because some one told you what they wanted you to look for.
Try some of the following free sources-
And specifically for New Mexico Law...New Mexico OneSource has pages for statutes and court rules, bills, regulations, judicial opinions, and a case lookup (dockets). You can also use the court's website to look up dockets, see screen cast video at 30:39 for a walk-through on how to use New Mexico court websites for research.