David Haendler, research and instructional services librarian, has worked in the Kline School of Law’s Legal Research Center (LRC) for nearly five years. Before becoming a law librarian, Haendler practiced law for about 10 years and specialized in product liability, securities fraud and derivative litigation. He received a B.A. from Swarthmore College, a J.D. from the University of Chicago, and a Master of Science in Library & Information Science from Drexel University’s College of Computing and Informatics. He teaches courses in Pennsylvania Legal Research, Litigation Drafting, Legal Research & Analysis (MLS program).
Haendler recently answered a few questions about his research interests, his work in the LRC and his top research tips.
What’s your approach in working with and supporting students?
I like to think that I have a practice-oriented approach to working with students. I reflect back on my own time practicing law and think about what worked for me, what didn’t, and what mistakes I can help students avoid.
What’s your area of expertise or a subject matter you particularly enjoy researching?
I tend to enjoy researching administrative law—I think the Administrative Procedure Act creates a very interesting and flexible framework for rulemaking.
What’s one thing you wish you had learned earlier as a law student/attorney?
Searching case law is often not the best way to find information on a topic. Some legal issues don’t produce many written opinions, because they are rarely litigated; because they’re too new for any cases to have produced decisions yet; or because they are primarily addressed by administrative agencies rather than courts. Case law is one tool we have for learning about the law, but it’s not the right tool for every situation.
What are the top six (or whatever number you want) research tips you’d give students?
- Start your research with secondary sources. One source that I’m particularly fond of is the Congressional Research Service (https://crsreports.congress.gov/), a free repository of high-quality research reports on matters of federal law and policy.
- Learning the details about how legal materials are published and organized will make you a more effective researcher.
- Your colleagues are great resources to draw upon—asking questions to folks who are experienced in an area is often more fruitful than going right to a database.
- There’s a lot of useful material hiding in dockets—knowing how to search dockets can help you find all sorts of good stuff about opposing parties and ongoing cases.
- Comments can be important, highly authoritative resources to draw upon. When you’re researching a body of law with comments, like a model code, a Restatement, or the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, checking the comments can answer a lot of questions.
- Westlaw and LexisNexis are not the alpha and omega of legal research. Be aware that other legal databases like Fastcase and Casetext exist and might be a better option for your needs.
What would you want the Kline Law community to know about your outside interests?
Dungeons & Dragons and my two beautiful pit bulls have been lifesavers during the pandemic.