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Legal Research

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Kate Peterson

on 25 July 2013

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Transcript of Legal Research

Legal Research 101
What is Legal Research?
1) Finding primary sources of law, or primary authority, in a given jurisdiction (cases, statutes, regulations, etc.)
2) Searching secondary sources (for example, law reviews, legal dictionaries, legal treatises, and legal encyclopedias for background information about a legal topic; and
3) Searching non-legal sources for investigative or supporting information.

Secondary Sources
Use for background and to find citations to primary
Encyclopedias (Lexis Nexis)
Law reviews
Treatises (covering one topic-e.g criminal law, trusts, etc.)
Journal articles, books, etc.
Primary Sources
Court decisions
Federal Register
U.S. Code
Code of Federal Regulations
Text of legislative bills
Contracts, wills, and other legal documents
Specialized Searching
Journal articles
Key number
-from West--"the most comprehensive and widely used indexing system for case law materials."
refers to the process of consulting Shepard's to see if a case has been overturned, reaffirmed, questioned, or cited by later cases.

Using the Law
In fields where practitioners/students need to learn about law: Education, Human services, business, health care, environmental policy, etc.
-Law Reviews, magazines, newspapers
-Add (law or legal) as keyword in subject database
-Use Google to find the name or citation to specific
case/regulation/law and use those as keywords

Citation explained:
The number preceding the name of the source ordinarily refers to a volume or title number.
The number following the name of the source refers to the page number on which the cited material begins or the section number if the first number is a title.

Example 1: Pub.L. 88-352, Title VII, 78 Stat. 241 indicates that Public Law 88-352, Title VII, can be found in volume 78 of the U.S. Statutes-at-Large on page 241.

Example 2: The United States Code citation for the same law, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., indicates that the beginning of the codified law is found in Title 42 of the United States Code, section 2000e.

Example 3: Meritor Savings Bank v. Mechelle Vinson et al., 106 S.Ct. 2399 (1986), indicates that the Supreme Court decision is found in volume 106 of West's Supreme Court Reporter on page 2,399.

Tables of abbreviations will help you identify an abbreviation. Legal dictionaries, dictionaries of legal abbreviations, and the Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation provide commonly used abbreviations and acronyms.
1. Using Lexis Nexis find 558 U.S. 310 (2010). What case is it?
2. Find Brown vs Board of Education
3. Find articles talking about international adoption and current laws
Warning: We do not offer counsel or legal advice. Consult an attorney for advice concerning your specific situation.

Help them get help!
Lots of websites, guides, and books

People in legal trouble...
Law Library
Government Publications
Copyright: https://www.lib.umn.edu/copyright
Patents, commercialization, etc.
Minnesota State Law Library
Minnesota Legislative Reference Library

Lexis Nexis
Google Scholar

Only at Law Library/law students, fac, staff:
Bloomberg Law
Legal Trac
Help! There are interns in the Library...
Need printed item for obscure item
Often have incomplete citations
Might have spreadsheet
Full transcript