There you are, at your desk facing a serious deadline. With the pressure mounting and your internet research isn’t providing you with the information you need, you begin to panic. As a paralegal, you must be able to quickly and accurately perform deep-level internet research to provide your employer with the necessary information for a case. While performing internet research is becoming easier and easier with the advent of research databases and other useful tools, there are still times when your research may come short handed.
Although there are literally hundreds of tips you can follow to locate the information you require, the following tips are considered the most effective to help you throughout this necessary job function.
Tip #1 – Search Within a Website
If you know the website you need to search, instead of pulling up a standard Google search, you should type in: [site:URL] followed by the [phrase] you think will help pull up the information you need more quickly. For example, in Google type: “site:www.website.com tax form”
Tip #2 – Search by Specific File Types
There are times when you will need to locate a specific document. The most effective way to perform this type of search is to use the same concept as above, but with file types. You’ll type in: [filetype:pdf] followed by the [phrase] you think will help you isolate the document you need. This form of searching will only showcase file types that you specify. This can save you a significant amount of time. For example, type in: filetype:doc w-4 tax
Tip #3 – Locate Similar Sites
There are times when you need to locate a website that is similar to another one. This is typically useful when you’re needing to search specific government or private sector business websites. To perform this search, go to Google and type: [related:URL]. For example, related:www.nala.org – when you search this way, all websites that are similar to the National Association of Legal Assistants will populate in your search results.
Tip #4 – Exact Phrase Search
Do you need to look up a specific term or quote? If so, you should use the exact phrase search tip. To utilize this search method, put quotation marks around the phrase you wish to search. For example: “medication lawsuits” – this will only bring up search results that feature this exact phrase.
Tip #5 – Unknown Search
There are times when you have a part of a phrase you know you need to search, but the remaining words in the search are a mystery. If you find yourself in this situation, then you should use the asterisk key to replace any words that you cannot remember. For example, “* is the cause of heart attacks” – This will populate results to include the word you cannot remember.