How can I use CoCounsel to get a legal research memo?

Instructions for using CoCounsel's "Legal Research Memo" skill with sample prompts to illustrate potential use cases.

Valerie McConnell avatar
Written by Valerie McConnell
Updated over a week ago

⚠️ This article discusses an earlier version of CoCounsel sold between March 2023-October 2023. For more recent content, see here.

In this article

Summary and video

CoCounsel's "Legal research memo" skill uses advanced AI technology to conduct comprehensive legal research and analysis. Enter a legal research request, and CoCounsel will run multiple searches simultaneously through Casetext’s database of primary law, identify and review relevant authorities, and draft a memo that answers the legal research request.

Step-by-step instructions

(1) Select “Legal research memo”

To get started, go to the skills menu and select “Legal research memo."

This box will appear.

(2) Explain the legal research request and review CoCounsel's interpretation

Explain your legal research request with normal sentences like you would to a colleague. Include all relevant information like jurisdiction, background facts, and anything else relevant to the query. This means you do not need to worry about Boolean operators or traditional keyword formatting and syntax. Then click "Submit." CoCounsel will then provide a brief interpretation of the request, including jurisdiction, date, and publication filters.

For the best results, use the following filters, best practices, and examples to improve your legal research requests.

Filters

By default, CoCounsel will return relevant results that are not limited by jurisdiction, date range, or publication status. CoCounsel's interpretation will identify jurisdiction, date, publication, and other filters. Review them and make necessary changes.

  • Jurisdiction: Include a jurisdiction in the request, then select the jurisdiction menu to:

    1. Set the preferred jurisdiction by expanding state and federal court menus and checking or unchecking boxes.

    2. Create a new favorite jurisdiction search.

    3. Select a saved favorite jurisdiction search.

  • Date: Include a date range in the request. CoCounsel can even understand non-numeric date references (e.g. "cases from the First Circuit from 2018 to the present"). Use the date fields to change the start or end year, or click trash to remove a date range.

  • Include Unpublished Items: Include or exclude unpublished cases in the request (e.g. "I need to find published household products liability cases"). Select "Yes" or "No" to change the selection.

Best practices

  • Include procedural history or posture: To narrow results by a specific procedural history of procedural posture, include this information in the request (e.g. "cases involving a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under FRCP 12(b)(6)").

  • Include the cause of action and material facts: To narrow results by a cause of action or claim, include this information and any material facts in the request (e.g. "slip-and-fall tort cases where ice and snow was not cleared from a sidewalk in front of a business").

  • Be specific: Write clear legal research requests. The requests below demonstrate how small changes can make a big difference in search efficacy. In the first query, the use of the vague term "affect" yielded less precise results. But in the second query, the more specific verb "look" led to more accurate and helpful results.

    1. Original Query: Federal cases finding that an industry custom or practice can affect the interpretation or enforcement of a statute.

    2. Improved Query: Federal cases stating that courts may look to industry practices to aid in the interpretation of a statute.

  • Be concise: Write concise legal research requests. Providing too much information can actually hinder the AI's ability to find relevant results. In the examples provided below, the first query is less effective because it contains unnecessary language. The second query, on the other hand, is direct and to the point. This allows CoCounsel to focus on what's relevant, leading to more accurate and helpful results.

    1. Original query: Under federal or Texas state law, does waiver apply if privileged information is exchanged during the due diligence process between companies when there is a non-disclosure agreement in place?

    2. Improved query: Under federal or Texas state law, is privilege waived when information is shared during a transaction with another company that is subject to an NDA?

Example legal research request

The following is a good example of a legal research request. It includes:

  • The jurisdiction (the state of California);

  • A clear subject (a terminated employee); and

  • A predicate with material facts and other details about the claim (can recover front pay damages for being fired in retaliation for reporting a securities law violation to the SEC).

When you have finished setting filters and refining your legal research request, click "Submit."

(3) Review CoCounsel’s Response

CoCounsel shows its work with a research memo. Begin reviewing CoCounsel’s response from the chat, or open the full response.

From the chat

From the chat, mouse over the response to expand the full response, download the response, or copy the response to paste somewhere else.

The full response

Use the full response to verify CoCounsel’s results. CoCounsel explains its answer to the search request with a brief answer addressing your legal research issue, a comprehensive analysis resembling a true memorandum interpretation, and a list of the relevant supporting authority, including primary law, like cases, statutes, and regulations, and legal articles from Casetext’s secondary source database of “Legal Analyses.” Articles are from recognized legal publishers at JD Supra. To read the full text of an article, click its title. More information about “Legal Analyses” is available here.

Answer and Analysis

The answer and analysis will reflect CoCounsel’s synthesis of the cases it identified as relevant. CoCounsel may identify conflicts or any exceptions to a general rule that require further research.

Supporting authority

Under the answer and analysis sections of the memo, CoCounsel will provide a list of relevant, supporting authorities with clickable citations for access to the full text, boldface summaries explaining its relevance, and highlighted quotes.

  • Navigate supporting authority by collapsing and expanding Case, Statute, Regulation, and Analyses section headings

  • Click primary law titles to read the full text

  • Review quoted highlights to assess relevance

Refine results

Legal research usually leads to more legal research. Upon reviewing CoCounsel's legal research memo, you might want to refine the results.

1. From the full response, select "Refine results."

2. Describe how you would like to refine the results, then click Enter/Return.

Use the response

Finally, there are tabs at the bottom of CoCounsel’s response that enable you to download the memo as a Word document or copy the response to use somewhere else.

Limits

Input limits

1,000 characters

Output limits

CoCounsel's legal research memo will include the most relevant results. While there will not always be this many relevant results, memos can include up to:

  • 51 cases;

  • 30 statutes (including Rules);

  • 30 regulations; and

  • 15 analyses.

Frequency

CoCounsel can only begin 1 Legal research memo per minute. A warning will appear upon more frequent requests, and the legal research request will not be saved.

Sample prompts to illustrate potential use cases

Stay current on frequently updated areas of law

  • "I need recent case on the Fourth Amendment and geofence warrants."

  • "I need cases from 2018 to the present on the First Amendment, free speech, and public event licensing requirements."

Research unsettled issues across multiple jurisdictions

  • "Under California law, can a stepchild be considered an omitted child in a will or testamentary trust?"

Research unfamiliar areas of law

  • "In Ohio, if a fire that began on a neighbor's property completely destroys my house, what causes of action are available to me?"


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