Legal Research & Reasoning

Humanities & Social Sciences
Legal Studies
Course Code
LGST 1110
Semester Length
Max Class Size
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Typically Offered
To be determined


Course Description
This course is designed to give students an understanding of the purposes and processes of legal research and reasoning. Students will learn basic legal research skills using predominantly electronic resources. The course will cover the elements of legal analysis and reasoning in common law systems. Through a case review approach, students will look at various substantive law problems to develop an understanding of legal reasoning as one form of analytical thinking.
Course Content
  1. Introduction and Overview
    • Purpose of legal research and reasoning
    • Rationale for developing legal research skills
    • Rationale for understanding the requirement that judges conform to prescribed modes of reasoning.
  2. Sources of Law
    • Primary sources
    • Bills, statutes, regulations, by-laws
    • Judicial decisions
    • Structure of Canada’s court system and hierarchy
    • Doctrines of precedent and stare decisis
    • Briefing cases
    • Secondary sources and their use in legal research
    • Texts, journals, encyclopaedias, digests
  3. Legal Research
    • Methods of finding and updating legislation
    • Citation of legislation
    • Methods of finding and updating case law
    • Citation of case law.
  4. Legal Reasoning in the Common Law System
    • The judicial mandate to interpret and apply the law
    • The complexity of, and constraints on, judicial reasoning
    • Structure and rules that govern judicial reasoning: interpretation of legislation; precedent and stare decisis
    • Judicial flexibility and distinguishing
  5. Methods of Reasoning
    • Inductive and deductive reasoning
    • Arguing from principle
    • Reasoning from prior cases
    • The concepts of clarity, detail, precision and abstraction
    • Concealed issues
    • Critical thinking and the law:
      • legal thinking
      • points of view
      • interpretation and influence
      • assumptions
      • consequences
Methods Of Instruction

The course will employ a variety of instructional methods to accomplish its objectives, including some of the following:


  • lectures
  • labs
  • small group discussion
  • audio-visual materials
  • research projects and writing assignments
Means of Assessment

Evaluation will be based on the course objectives and carried out in accordance with Douglas College policy.   The instructor will provide a written course outline with specific evaluation criteria at the beginning of the course.  Evaluation will be based on the following:

  • Exams
  • Labs
  • Assignments in legal research and writing


 An example of one possible evaluation scheme would be:


Labs  20%
Midterm exam  25%
Research writing assignment I  25%
Research writing assignment II     30%
Total 100%
Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of the course the successful student will be able to:


  1. Explain the importance of legal research skills.
  2. Explain the rationale behind the requirement that judges conform to methods of legal reasoning.
  3. Identify primary sources of law and explain their use in the context of the Canadian legislative and judicial system.
  4. Identify and use secondary sources of law in legal research.
  5. Use electronic and print methods of finding and updating statutory and case law materials.
  6. Write proper citations for all legal materials.
  7. Compare and contrast main elements of Civil and Common Law systems used in Canada.
  8. Explain the theory underlying the Civil and Common Law systems.
  9. Explain the judicial mandate to apply the law and constraint thereon.
  10. Explain the structures and rules governing judicial reasoning, including rules of statutory interpretation, the operation of precedent and stare decisis, judicial flexibility and distinguishing.
  11. Identify and explain different forms of reasoning, including inductive and deductive reasoning, arguing from principle and reasoning from prior cases.
  12. Describe the importance of the concepts of clarity, detail, precision, abstraction and concealed issues in reasoning.
  13. Describe the importance of critical and ethical thinking to legal reasoning.
  14. Research, write and analyze judicial reasoning in case studies.
Textbook Materials

Textbooks and Materials to be Purchased by Students:


Tjaden, Ted. (2016). Legal Research and Writing. Toronto:  Irwin Law.

Additionally, throughout the course students will work with the following materials:

- legislation (federal and provincial)

- case law

- online secondary legal resources such as Lexis Advance Quicklaw, BC Laws, LegisInfo, LawSource, CanLii, and a variety of court and legislative websites.



No prerequisite courses.


No corequisite courses.


No equivalent courses.

Course Guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester / year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

Course Transfers

These are for current course guidelines only. For a full list of archived courses please see

Institution Transfer Details for LGST 1110
Capilano University (CAPU) CAPU LAW 210 (3)
Langara College (LANG) LANG GNST 1XXX (3)
Simon Fraser University (SFU) SFU CRIM 1XX (3)
Thompson Rivers University (TRU) TRU SOCI 1XXX (3)
Trinity Western University (TWU) TWU GENS 1XX (3)
University of British Columbia - Okanagan (UBCO) No credit
University of British Columbia - Vancouver (UBCV) No credit
University of Northern BC (UNBC) UNBC HUMN 1XX (3)
University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) UFV CRIM 1XX (3)
University of Victoria (UVIC) UVIC SOCI 1XX (1.5)
Vancouver Island University (VIU) VIU CRIM 1st (3)

Course Offerings

Fall 2022

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Section Notes

LGST 1110 001 - See Criminology (CRIM) for other university transferable law and legal system courses.

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New Westminster - North Bldg.
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