Research Guides

TMLL Research Guide - Chapter 10


THE LEGAL RESEARCH PROCESS: FEDERAL LAW SOURCES


Analyze the facts, identifying key terms, dates and jurisdiction, and formulate a preliminary statement of issues.

Develop a system for organizing research notes and putting cites in Bluebook form.

Familiarize yourself with the court structure of the jurisdiction.

  • Bluebook Table T.1

Do background research to get an overview of the subject area, identify issues and key terms, and get clues to primary sources.

  • Hornbooks [Reading Room across from library desk]
  • Law review articles [print – compact shelving on Level 1; Lexis; Westlaw; HeinOnline]
  • ALR Federal [print - Level 2; Westlaw]
  • Treatises
  • Legal encyclopedias
  • Government websites
  • Legal news services
  • Seek expert advice

Search for legal authority (relevant statutes, cases, and regulations) using appropriate finding tools and methods of updating.

  • Annotated codes [print U.S.C.A. or U.S.C.S. shelved on Level 3; U.S.C.A. is available on Westlaw; U.S.C.S. is available on Lexis]
  • West’s Federal Practice Digest [print on Level 3]
  • Search full text case databases [Lexis, Westlaw; Bloomberg Law; Internet sites]
  • ALR Federal [print - Level 2; Westlaw]
  • Shepard’s [Lexis]
  • KeyCite [Westlaw]
  • BCite [Bloomberg Law]

Read and evaluate primary authorities.Read relevant opinions looking for citations to additional relevant primary authority.

  • United States Reports (U.S.), United States Supreme Court Reports, Lawyer’s Edition (L.Ed., L.Ed. 2d), Supreme Court Reporter (S. Ct.), Federal Reporter (F., F.2d, F.3d), Federal Supplement (F. Supp., F. Supp. 2d) [print – Level 3; Lexis; Westlaw]

Make sure cases are still good law.

  • Shepard’s [Lexis]
  • KeyCite [Westlaw]
  • Bcite [Bloomberg Law]

Refine analysis and formulate conclusion.

  • Treatises [Level 2; check the library’s online catalog]
  • Law review articles
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