Legal Research Strategies for Four Legal Practice Areas

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Public and private records provide legal professionals with a variety of different kinds of data for legal research — from personal information like addresses and names, to more detailed information like asset records and criminal records. However, gathering information through traditional methods, like going to a court to pay for records, can be costly and take up unnecessary time. And while search engines like Google are a free and a convenient way to gather information, the data in these web search engines isn’t always up-to-date or accurate, and you can’t always find the records you’re looking for.  So what’s the solution to both of these issues? A public and private records database

Not only is searching a public and private records database more cost-effective and efficient than requesting physical records, it also provides more comprehensive and accurate data than a free search engine. While many different practice areas can benefit from using a records database for legal research, here are the best legal research strategies for four legal practice areas.

Personal injury attorneys need to gather significant amounts of facts in order to prove that a person was injured and they were injured because of another individual or business’s actions. So what types of searches can help you win your personal injury cases? A new and very useful type of legal research strategy to use in personal injury law is a social network people search

A social media search will scan someone’s social media profiles, social media mentions, and other social activity and combine all the information into one report. If a person tagged a specific location on social media around the time of the injury, you can use this location to verify that they were in a specific place at a specific time when they got into the accident. You could also use photos or social activity that discuss the injury to show they were in fact injured. Conversely, if they claim to have been injured but posted a photo of themselves doing physical activity after the time of the injury, this social media evidence could disprove their claim. 

Another useful legal research tip for personal injury cases is a business records search. Not only is investigating a business important for performing a due diligence investigation if a person is suing a business, it can also help you determine who and how much money to go after for settlement. You can search UCC filings and a Business Credit Report to investigate a party’s relationship to a business and uncover a business’s payment history and credit worthiness, which can be used to pierce the corporate veil and determine the amount that a business or individual who works for a business could pay your client for damages.

  • Personal injury attorneys can use a social media search to search an individual’s profiles and find social media evidence of the time, place, and extent of their injury.
  • A business records search that includes a Business Credit Report can also help personal injury attorneys with their legal research for both discovery and settlement.
  • With a Business Credit Report, lawyers in personal injury practice can learn about a business’s payments, pierce the corporate veil, or find other sources of recovery. 

If you work in criminal defense, an effective legal research strategy to use in a software for criminal attorneys is a criminal records search. A criminal records search will uncover any past convictions or arrests of either your party or the opposing party, which could be used to demonstrate a person’s character, such as to show that they could be lying if they have a past conviction of fraud. Criminal records searches can also help you determine the best strategy for court — if your client has a past criminal record, it may be better to go to try to get a plea deal and avoid going to court altogether.

Criminal defense attorneys also often need to locate someone to testify, and a public and private records database can be incredibly helpful in doing so. You can use a Premium People Search to uncover any relatives or business associates who may be able to testify to your client’s character. Or, if you’re trying to locate a specific witness who may have been at the scene of a crime, you could use a license plate recognition system to find vehicles that were around the area at that specific time and get in contact with the owners of those vehicles using a vehicle registration search. 

  • Criminal defense lawyers can use a criminal records search to learn more about both their client and opposition’s history and character, which can be useful for preparing for questioning and determining the best strategy for court. 
  • If criminal defense attorneys need to find a character witness to testify against the opposition or for their client, they can use a people search to find family and associates.
  • A license plate lookup may provide information on people whose vehicles were sighted near the scene of a crime, which can help criminal attorneys locate eyewitnesses.

In estate planning and probate law, you often need a full picture of someone’s family in order to properly execute a will or plan an estate. However, finding and contacting family members can be particularly difficult if the person has passed away. A people search in a public and private records database can help you find all family members so you can construct a family tree and get in contact with beneficiaries of a will. Relatives may also be useful for testifying for your client’s character in family law if you’re handling a custody battle. 

Another important piece of information to uncover in both family law and estate planning and probate law is any assets that belong to a person. In family law, specifically divorce law, people may have an incentive to hide assets in order to get a more favorable settlement. A divorce asset search can uncover all assets, even hidden ones, in order to help you determine a fair settlement for your client. An asset search is also an effective legal research strategy in estate planning and probate law because it will help you verify the existence of any assets mentioned in a will as well as uncover ones that weren’t mentioned.

  • A people search can uncover family members, even estranged family members, than can help estate planning and probate attorneys properly execute wills or estates.
  • For attorneys working in family law matters like divorce settlements, an asset search can help bring all assets to the table to ensure their client gets what is rightfully theirs.
  • An asset search can also help attorneys executing wills verify the existence of assets that are mentioned so they can distribute them properly.

If you’re a collections attorney trying to collect on debt for your client, you need to be able to skip trace the debtor ad in contact with them. This can be particularly difficult if a person is hiding, but a public and private records database can provide you with the information you need to locate and get in contact with debtors. You can perform an old address lookup in order to uncover past addresses of a debtor and make guesses as to where they might move to. If you’re not able to pinpoint a debtor’s location with an address search, you may be able to skip trace the debtor using their utility bill records, which will show you when and where a utility, like electricity or wifi, was set up. 

Skip tracing debtors is the first step to collecting on debt as a collections attorney, but you also need to get in contact with a debtor. To find up-to-date contact information for right-party contact, you can use a phone append in a public and private records search engine, which allows you to find phone numbers — even business phone numbers and landlines — by searching just a name and an address. 

If you’re looking for other methods of contact and you only have a phone number, you can use a reverse phone append, which will take a phone number and provide you with lists of other contact information, like physical addresses and email addresses. Whatever contact information you’re looking to access as a collections attorney, a public and private records database will provide you with the most up-to-date data available for increased right-party contact.

  • Collections attorneys can use an address history search and utility listings data to glean insight into a debtor’s possible locations and skip trace that debtor for collection.
  • A phone append can provide collections attorneys with up-to-date contact information for debtors, even if they only have a small amount of information initially, for right-party contact.
  • A reverse phone append, which provides information using a phone number, can also help collections attorneys skip trace and contact particularly hard-to-find debtors.

If you’re interested in using a public and private records database for your legal practice, get started with Tracers today.