Where to Access Legal Research Materials - dummies

Where to Access Legal Research Materials

By Scott A. Hatch, Lisa Zimmer Hatch

Part of Paralegal Career For Dummies Cheat Sheet

The area where you live or work as a paralegal largely dictates your access to law library resources. If you live in a rural area, you may not have the same access to the massive collections of law books and legal resources that city slickers have. Even so, as a legal researcher, you can still find most of these pertinent legal resources in your public library’s law section or on law websites:

  • 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.

  • 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 websites. To find an official website, type [city or county name] government into your favorite search engine (obviously replacing [city or county name] with the name of the city or county you need info on).

  • 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 online.