Wall Street Reform: Following the Mayhem

May 3, 2010

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It is a cuss-out on capitol hill (see Sen. Carl Levin Holds a Hearing on the Causes of the Financial Crisis, Panel 1)!  The reform issue is extremely contentious and has every financial institution worried.  Therefore, many law firms that service those institutions are keeping their eyes to the nation’s capitol.  That also means the Reference Attorneys are getting the frequent “where do I start?” calls.

If you happen to be the lucky (unlucky) summer associate that seems to be available, you may get the daunting task of collecting material that may help associates and partners keep abreast of the mayhem in D.C. related to Wall Street reform.  No reason to panic, the late shows are not the only place where you will find helpful information (although they may help you stay sane).

To get a foothold, it is a good idea to run a general search through a news database (ALLNEWS, ALLNEWSPLUS, RALLNEWSPLUS). A workable search would be something like: “Wall St.” financ! /3 reform debate.  Also, using a date restriction will make your hits manageable (maybe back to November of last year since the House passed their form of Wall Street reform back in December).  Then run locates for terms that will help you narrow the material to the gold nuggets such as:  senate house /3 bill report committee hearing testimony.  Since your results will be in reverse chronological order, make sure to peruse more than just the first page.

You will find topics will be clumped because the issue of the day will be reported by several news organizations in different ways.  No doubt, you will find several gems, such as the bill numbers for the Senate Bill (2009 CONG US S 3217) and the House Bill (2009 CONG US HR 4173) as well as terms you would like to explore further like the “Volcker Rule” and “Goldman Sachs.”

At this point you have some dangerous leads that need to be explored.  Use the terms you have found and run searches using the federal legislative history tab along with the databases like USCCAN-REP and FED-LH.

Did one of your news or legislative searches do you good?  Then keep running it.  For example, the Volcker Rule (section 619) is an important piece of the reform legislation and after running a search in the news and the legislative history databases I have saved a Westclip.  This will pick up any discussion about the “Volcker Rule” alerting me when there are new articles on the subject.

Legal research is a combination of art and science, so there really is no “right” way to go about working your way through the financial reform debate.  However, I hope I have made it clearer on how the process can work for you.