Research Guides

Asper Fellowship Research Guide


You may contact your library liaison Jenny Rensler with library-related questions.

Practice, Writing and Research | Journals | Statutory Materials | Judicial Materials | Administrative Materials | Related Websites


Getting Started

This research guide is created for the Asper Fellowship Program of the University of Maryland School of Law. The guide is directed to provide fellows in the workforce with a starting point for legal research, with a special emphasis on legislative research.

With any project, unless you are already knowledgeable about the topic area, it's best to start with secondary sources and then to consult primary sources. Secondary sources such as treatises, looseleafs, and law reviews, as well as newspapers and other periodicals, provide you with an overview of your topic and help you think of search terms you might not have thought of otherwise. They also cite primary authorities such as statutes and cases. You can use the primary sources cited in secondary sources as a jumping off point to find other primary sources in several ways:

  • Shepardize or KeyCite them to see what other sources have cited them (visit the Shepard's Citation Service tutorial or the KeyCite tutorial for more information);
  • Read annotations to statutes to find cross references to cases that have analyzed them or regulations that have been issued under their authority (jump to Statutory Materials);
  • Read cases to see what other sources they cite (jump to Judicial Materials);
  • On Westlaw or in West Digests (for example, the Maryland Digest and Federal Practice Digest), look up the topics and key numbers in the cases you've already read to find other cases that address the same issues;
  • On Lexis, use "More Like This" to find other sources with wording or citation patterns similar to the document you started with.

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Secondary Sources: Practice, Writing, and Research

Guides, manuals, sample forms and other secondary sources provide an overview of legal practice, writing and research materials. The following is a brief list of some secondary materials available in the Thurgood Marshall Law Library; for additional secondary materials, please check the library's Catalog.

Electronic Resources:

Lexis

Westlaw

Books:

Forms:

Suggested Catalog Searches:

Use the online Catalog to find more secondary sources available in the Thurgood Marshall Law Library. For research hints on how to use the catalog, see the Research Guide on Searching the Catalog. Some suggested searches in the Catalog follow:

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Secondary Sources: Journals

The two main indexes to law journals are LegalTrac and Index to Legal Periodicals & Books (which includes books as well). These indexes include references to many journals not included in Westlaw or Lexis databases and in some cases provide access to the full text electronically. The Index to Legal Periodicals is particularly helpful if you need to find articles published prior to 1980. For additional help on finding articles, visit Finding Articles in Legal Journals and Law Reviews. Most print journals are shelved on level 1 of the library, in alphabetical order by journal title. To find out if the library has a particular journal title in electronic format, use the e-journals link on the library web page or ask a librarian for help.

Journals:

In the area of current events, there are a number of periodicals that are likely to contain articles relevant to your research:

Note: Each of the files on Lexis and Westlaw linked below are combined files of journals focusing on these practice areas. It is also possible to search these journals individually.

Lexis:

Westlaw:

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Primary Sources: Statutory Materials

Statutes relating to practice areas in the Clinic exist at both the federal and state levels.

Some useful electronic sources of statutory and legislative materials are linked below. For more information on federal legislative research, including federal legislative history, see Chapter 5 and Chapter 10 of the Thurgood Marshall Law Library Guide to Legal Research. For more information on state legislative research, including Maryland legislative history, see Chapter 9 of the Thurgood Marshall Law Library Guide to Legal Research.

Free:

Federal

Maryland

Lexis:

Westlaw:

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Primary Sources: Judicial Materials

For general information on finding and updating case law, see Chapter 7 of the Thurgood Marshall Law Library Guide to Legal Research.

Case Law and Court Rules:

Note: Free databases do not include cases dating back as far as the materials in Lexis and Westlaw databases. It is not recommended that you use free case law databases in your research.

Federal and State

Lexis:

Tip: If you find one good case on Lexis, you may be able to find others by identifying the headnote that best describes the issue of interest to you, then clicking "More Like This Headnote," or by Shepardizing the case to find other cases that have cited it for the issue represented by that headnote.

Westlaw:

Tip: If you find one good case on Westlaw, you may be able to find others by identifying the headnote that best describes the issue of interest to you, then clicking "Most Cited Cases" for that headnote. You could also try clicking "KeyCite Notes" to find other cases that have cited your good case for issue represented by that headnote.

Court-Related Resources

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Primary Sources: Administrative Materials

For more information on researching Maryland administrative law, see Chapter 9 of the Thurgood Marshall Law Library Guide to Legal Research.

For more information on researching federal administrative law, see Chapter 6 and Chapter 10 of the Thurgood Marshall Law Library Guide to Legal Research.

Federal

Maryland

Lexis:

Westlaw:

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Related Websites

Listed below is a selected list of websites of organizations and other entities related to practical engagement.

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This course research page was updated by Jenny Rensler.


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