Legal Research Materials and Web Sites - dummies

Legal Research Materials and Web Sites

By Scott A. Hatch, Lisa Zimmer Hatch

Part of Paralegal Career For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Access to law library resources is largely dictated by the area where you live or work. If you live in a rural area, you may not have the same access to the massive collections of law books that city slickers have. Even so, you can still find most of these pertinent legal resources in your public library’s law section or on the Internet:

  • U.S. Code: If you’re researching federal matters, the U.S. Code is where you’ll find the statutes controlling matters of national concern, like the rules regarding how we elect senators and how we show respect for the U.S. flag.

  • U.S. Constitution: For research on constitutional cases, you need to access the seven articles of the U.S. Constitution and the amendments. You can do so in almost any library or online.

  • Your state’s code: You can find the rules governing your state in its volumes of statutes, which are usually part of your local library’s collection, and most states make their codes available online. Access state statutes at Cornell University Law School.

  • Your state’s constitution: Sometimes a case involves constitutional issues on the state level. You can access your state’s articles and amendments in virtually any public library in your state, or you can go online to the Cornell University Law School Web site.

  • Your municipality’s code: If you work on matters of purely local significance, you can usually find a set of local rules in a city’s or county’s public library. Many cities and counties provide links to their codes on their official Web sites. To find an official Web site, type the name of your city or county and government into your favorite search engine.

  • Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory: Martindale-Hubbell volumes provide a directory of attorneys and law firms in the United States and throughout the world. They list attorneys’ contact information, educational backgrounds, and areas of specialty. So, if you need to find an attorney who practices intellectual property law in Kennebunk, Maine, you just need to pull this weighty text off the shelf of your public library or go to the Martindale Web site.