Step 3.3 Rank the questions by their threshold value and importance

When you have compiled your preliminary list of questions, see whether any of the questions could help to dispose of the problem fairly mechanically, at a threshold level.154 For example, not suing within a statutory limitation period may dispose the matter. If you find a dispositive threshold issue like this, put it at the top of your list of questions.155

Rank your other questions into a logical order.156 For example, does your client's case depend on one particular question that must be answered first? Also, consider ranking your questions using this simple and popular order:

  • can the plaintiff commence and maintain a cause of action?
  • if yes, does the defendant have a defense?
  • if no, and the plaintiff wins, what remedy may the plaintiff seek?157

154 Christopher G Wren and Jill Robinson Wren, The Legal Research Manual: A Game Plan for Legal Research and Analysis (1983) 37; David Stott, Legal Research (1993) 22.

155 Christopher G Wren and Jill Robinson Wren, The Legal Research Manual: A Game Plan for Legal Research and Analysis (1983) 37.

156 Christina L Kunz et al, The Process of Legal Research

157 Christopher G Wren and Jill Robinson Wren, The Legal Research Manual: A Game Plan for Legal Research and Analysis (1983) 38.

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