Jurisdiction

Find out if you need to examine federal or state, court or administrative decisions, regulatory or legislative sources, or some combination.

Useful tips

The assigning attorney may know of experts in the field, recent publications, or internal documents that could help you. Try to get names of people, and copies or cites of documents.

Scope

How much information is the attorney really looking for? Should your research be exhaustive, or just an overview?

Terms of art

Ask the assigning attorney for standard terms of art and their definitions. Knowing the right terminology can save time, effort, and money.

Acronyms

Clarify the spelling and meaning of acronyms.  Attorneys in specialized fields tend to throw these around without realizing they may be meaningless to those new to the field.

Sources

As an expert, the assigning attorney should know the "bibles" of research in the field. Ask for titles of key journals, looseleafs, treatises, and databases.

Key cost constraints

Is the client a stickler on certain charges,  such as Westlaw or Lexis? How many hours should you be billing on this project? Can you use faxes, document delivery services, messengers? Find out before you start spending.