In the legal field, knowing the value of your knowledge can make or break a case. Even just knowing where the knowledge you need is held could be critical for quick decisions and allocating research time. Public records are perhaps the largest resource for lawyers, and knowing if similar cases have been tried can be the deciding factor in any number of decisions or settlements.
Property records are required for taxing owners and are typically held by the local municipality. Property records are a part of public record and contain information for building codes, habitability standards, property taxes, and more.
Vital records are a general type of public document which involves any factual information pertaining to individuals. This includes birth, adoption, and death records, as well as marriage and divorce records. These are useful mostly in family law, but are valuable in any number of situations.
The most commonly used records in civil courts are contracts. These encompass a number of legal agreements, from business partnerships to warranties to unions – the list goes on and on. Not all business contracts are a part of public record, but they can be very useful for comparison, particularly when a previous case or court decision sets a relevant precedent.
For any will-related information, probate records are very important. These describe the distribution of estate upon death and typically include the executor in charge of assets. These are necessary for understanding any dispute over inheritance, disposal of property, and lingering debts. For living individuals, these are most often used for mental health commitment situations.
Tort cases are often built upon public records and case law. Previous case law provides guidance on pursuing product and personal liability judgments. Even newspapers, OSHA findings, police records, and state agency records can be invaluable in the area of torts.
These are the major forms of public records used in the legal profession, and familiarizing yourself with them should be a major first step in the field. In the legal field, more than many others, information is power. Knowing where the right knowledge is held is the key to succeeding in any case.