As part of a continuing series on Spring 2017 semester courses that relate to innovation and business, this post spotlights Advanced Legal Research Methods in Specialized Subjects: Business & Tax Legal Research.

Legal research can be a complex and overwhelming task, especially in areas that are complex themselves, such as business and tax. Advanced Legal Research Methods in Business & Tax, co-taught by Professors Matthew Braun, and Don Ford teaches students how best to approach legal research in these challenging areas. 

The course is broken into two sections: business and tax. Professor Ford teaches the sessions on the business portion of the course, while Professor Braun teaches the tax portion. The business portion of the course covers issues that may not be covered much in traditional law school courses, but, as Professor Ford observed, “play a big role” in the business law sector. The tax portion of the course looks more at specific topics, such as liquidations, and asks the question: “what is the IRS’s position on this issue?” Professors Braun and Ford also bring in at least two guest speakers during the course of the semester. Typically, these speakers will discuss databases unique to business and tax research.

For each section of the course, students complete a “Pathfinder.” For each Pathfinder, students choose from a selection of publicly traded companies and research either the business or tax issues surrounding the company. Students must find sources both in print and online, drawing on the skills they learned in the course. In addition to the Pathfinders, students engage in various in-class exercises designed to hone their research skills.

The hands-on approach is a unique aspect of the course. Professor Braun said, “It’s a different type of experience” than what students will have in many of their other law school courses. Students may also appreciate that, schedule permitting, the course will be completely finished by spring break and that there is no final.

Course Description

This one credit hour course will focus on resources and techniques for effective and efficient business and tax law research.  Concepts such as competitive intelligence, legislative analysis, and statistical research will also be addressed.  The class sessions will include a combination of lecture, discussion, and in-class exercises.  Students will work on real-world examples to apply and sharpen their research skills.

Schedule (Tentative)

Monday | 3:30 pm – 5:00 pm