The answer is not as clear-cut as you might think. Legal researchers often work independently and are not limited to a particular field. For instance, a legal researcher may specialize in securities litigation and need to identify the tactics used in similar cases. They may need to consult primary and secondary sources to uncover answers to their questions. Additionally, they may consult sample briefs filed by other lawyers or law firms for insight into a particular strategy.
When performing legal research, a researcher must first identify the problem and desired outcome. This could be anything from helping a client collect money from their insurance company to arguing for evidence exclusion. Knowing what the problem is, the desired outcome, or the relief desired, will help guide the research process. Once the client defines the legal problem, the legal researcher must determine how to solve it, including the best way to go about it.
A researcher may be more comfortable working in the background or in a less visible role. Legal researchers often specialize in a particular field, such as real estate. By doing research in this field, they become familiar with the laws and guiding principles of real estate. Because legal researchers work closely with lawyers, they need strong analytical and research skills in order to properly disseminate information. But the difference between a lawyer and a legal researcher is not so clear-cut.