did i ever mention that i heart bar manuals? that's really the best thing i learned about in legal research last year. bar manuals are fantastic...for any given state, it tells you the basic elements of any given claim or form of pleading, what the relevant statutes are, a few key cases...and you can research from the statute and those cases to find other cases that are on point.
if there are any 1Ls that are reading this...don't be fooled. your research professors will talk about other places to start your research. they're not as fantastic as bar manuals. you will learn about these, if i remember correctly, the last week of legal research class fall semester (although it may be as late as the beginning of sprong semester.) but, put them in your arsenal now. researching state law in a practical context has never been so accessible.