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Legal Studies Guide

Use this guide to help find legal resources available to you at Fant Memorial Library, including materials--cases, statues, legal reference, law reviews, etc.--help from research experts, and spaces for you to work and study.

Legal Research Strategies

STEP 1: GET STARTED

  • READ what you’ve been given
  • ANALYZE the facts and frame your legal issues
  • ASSESS what you know and need to learn
  • NOTE any primary law you have been given
  • GENERATE potential search terms

 

STEP 2: IDENTIFY JURISDICTION

Map of U.S. Court of Appeals by District

STEP 3: GET AN OVERVIEW

  • Web Searches: Google or Wikipedia (yes really!)
  • Legal Dictionaries: Ballentine's Law Dictionary (online: Nexis Uni), Black's Law Dictionary (@Fant Library: KF156.B6276)

 

STEP 4: CONSULT SECONDARY SOURCES

  • WHAT the rule is - discussion of its application
  • WHERE to find it - citations to primary authority
  • Consult:

 

STEP 5: FIND PRIMARY AUTHORITIES

  • Case law (decisions from state and federal courts)
  • Legislation / Statutes (as passed by state legislatures and the U.S. Congress)
  • Regulations (from both state and federal agencies)
  • Constitutions (both state and federal)
  • Treatises

 

STEP 6: ANALYZE THE CONTROLLING LAW

  • READ the law
  • Determine which law is RELEVANT & BINDING
  • APPLY law to your facts

 

STEP 7: UPDATE THE LAW

Use citators (Shepherdizing in Nexis Uni) to make sure the law is still "good."