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Legal Research for UIUC Students (Non-Law)  

A guide for University of Illinois graduate and undergraduate students in colleges other than the College of Law.
Last Updated: Apr 9, 2015 URL: http://uiuc.libguides.com/law-basic Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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The Law Library

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Albert E. Jenner, Jr., Memorial Law Library

Presenter Contact Information

Anne Robbins, Acquisitions Librarian. Phone: (217) 244-7105
Email: aerobbin@illinois.edu


Michelle Hook Dewey, Reference Librarian. Phone: (217) 300-5461
Email: madewey2@illinois.edu

E-Resources for statutory law and case law

In addition to primary law most of the resources below will have some news and analysis.

  • LexisNexis Academic Universe
    contains primary legal resources (case law, statutory law, and administrative law) at the federal and state level, plus law reviews and journals and some international coverage
  • Loislaw  
    Loislaw is another comprehensive legal research source similar to Lexis Advance or Westlaw Next.
  • Knowledge Mosaic
    Knowledge Mosaic contains Rules, Regulations and all sorts of material from executive agencies especially the SEC.
  • JustCite
    Citator for English and Commonwealth caselaw.

E-Resources for News, Analysis and Scholarly Explanation

  • BNA All
    Current awareness and reseach resource on a variety of topics including Environmental law, Labor Law, Antitrust, Tax, Intelectual Property, E-discovery.
  • Law360  
    Database of breaking news and analysis on a variety of legal topics, including articles about law firms
  • ProQuest's Legislative Insight
    Searchable database containing legislative materials, historical context, legislative process information. Focus is on major legislative acts.
  • ProQuest Congressional
    Provides abstracts and some full-text of bills, Committee reports, prepared testimony from hearings, and public laws, as well as legislative histories. Check out Proquest Congressionals libguides: http://proquest.libguides.com/
  • LegalTrac
    Provides basic indexing information for law journal, bar journal and legal newspaper articles, including title and the legal subjects that the article is about. Coverage begins with 1980 and continues to current (with a few months' delay after publication

Introduction - Start Here!

Welcome to the Law Library's Guide to Legal Research! Researching the law can be complicated, but this guide will help you figure out what kind of law you are looking for, and then point you toward some resources that can help you find what you need.

The United States is a federal system.  This means that both the federal government and states can make laws.  So, it is important to consider if you are looking at a state law or a federal law or an area where there may be some overlap.

There are three sources of law: Case law- law made by the courts; Statutory law- law made by the legislature and Administrative law- laws made by executive agencies that have been empowered by statute.

In addition to the law itself there are many secondary sources, scholarship, treatises, journal articles and news and analysis.  At the begining stages of research it may be easier to begin with a scholarly explanation of the law than to go directly to the law itself.  The e-resources listed on this page are excellent sources for finding both the law itself and scholarly discussion and analysis.

For example, see Lexis Academic Universe for Federal and State Case law, Federal and State Statutory Law, Law Reviews and Shepardizing (Shepards is a citator that will help you make sure the case or law you are looking at has not been overturned and is a vital part of legal research).

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Citations to legal material can be confusing for a beginner.  Examples of how a citation breaks down for statutes and cases are shown below. 

More detailed citation guides are here:

The Bluebook is (described in the box to the right) is the official guide to legal citation.


Legal Citations

Citations to legal material can be confusing for a beginner.  Examples of how a citation breaks down for statutes and cases are shown below. 

More detailed citation guides are here:

The Bluebook is (described in the box to the right) is the official guide to legal citation.


Legal Research and Writing Guides

The Law Library has several resources dedicated to legal research and writing. Please drop by the library and peruse our Practical Skills collection.

Cover Art
Basic Legal Research - Amy E. Sloan; Sloan
Call Number: KF240 .S66 2009
ISBN: 9780735576728
Publication Date: 2009-02-26

Cover Art
Black's Law Dictionary, Standard Ninth Edition - Bryan A. Garner
Call Number: KF156 .B53 2009
ISBN: 0314199497
Publication Date: 2009-06-25
Legal dictionary. Remember, even words you think you know may have a different or specific meaning in law.

Cover Art
Legal Research in a Nutshell - Morris L. Cohen; Kent Olson
Call Number: KF240.C54 2010
ISBN: 0314180079
Publication Date: 2007-06-05

Cover Art
Prince's Bieber Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations - Mary Miles Prince
Call Number: KF246 .B46 2009
ISBN: 9780837716251
Publication Date: 2009-10-01

The bluebook : a uniform system of citation. - Harvard Law Review Association
Call Number: KF246 .U53 2010
Use this legal citation manual to break apart citations and determine the type of resource or use the tables to determine jurisdictional resources.

Cover Art
American Law and the American Legal System in a Nutshell - Lloyd Bonfield
Call Number: KF386 .B65 2006
ISBN: 0314150161
Publication Date: 2006-04-05

Cover Art
A History of American Law - Lawrence M. Friedman
Call Number: KF352 .F7 2005
ISBN: 0684869888
Publication Date: 2005-04-01


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