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Basic Legal Research: Web Resources

Find websites, books, and helpful guides to finding and citing law, legal opinions, and legal articles.

Disclaimer

WARNING: The information in this guide is for use only in the completion of academic assignments. It is not legal advice, and is not intended for use in actual legal controversies.

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Web Resources for Legal Research

Legal Research Methodology

  • Cornell University's Basics of Legal Research - This is a great link that explains, in a step-by-step process, the steps a legal researcher must take.
  • Andrew Zimmerman's Legal Research Guide - Not as "step-by-step" as Cornell's guide but still potentially useful. The good news is that this website provides a tremendous wealth of potentially valuable information.  Unfortunately though, some of these links have links to other resources that are not available to IUP students.  At the same time however, Zimmerman's guide provides a good explanation of many legal terms and concepts.
  • How to read a legal opinion Courtesy Orin S. Kerr (license) - I wish I had this resource when I was in paralegal school!

Court Structure

Databases Available

Two databases of particular interest for legal researchers are Westlaw and the EBSCOHost Legal Collection. (To gain access from home, use your 16 digit I-card number.)

  • Westlaw -- Campus Research is an easy-to-use online research service that provides college and university students with access to a comprehensive collection of law-related resources. Licensed content includes
    • American Jurisprudence 2d (Am Jur 2d)
    • American Law Reports (ALR)
    • More than 800 law reviews and journals
    • The United States Code Annotated (USCA)
    • All federal and state cases including U.S. Supreme Court cases
    • State statutes and regulations from all 50 states and D.C. and administrative codes from all 44 states
    • Code of Federal Regulations (CFR)
    • Federal Register, with 50,000 pages of current regulatory, administrative, and executive materials generated by key federal entities.
  • EBSCOHost Legal Collection -- Centered on the discipline of law and legal topics, this is a collection of respected, scholarly peer-reviewed publications including law journals, documents, and case studies. This database is an authoritative source for information on current issues, studies, thoughts and trends of the legal world. Legal Collection offers full text for more than 260 of the world's best law journals.  It is a subset of Academic Search Premier, Business Source Premier and Communication and Mass Media Complete.  

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Questions or Comments?

Questions or comments concerning this page should be directed to Theresa McDevitt. Correspondence regarding this site should be sent to its maintainer, Ed Zimmerman, edzimmer@iup.edu. Last updated on 5.5.11.

Public Services Librarian

Theresa McDevitt
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Guide Creator

Guide originally created by Richard Louis.