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A Guide to Legal Research

Legal Research Databases

Legal Primary Sources

Primary sources are the law itself.  They are created by Federal and State branches of government.

Statutory Law (Legislative Branch):   Statutes, codes, constitutions, rules of court.  Generally, laws passed by congress.

Case Law (Judicial Branch):   Decisions of courts and administrative bodies (i.e. Federal Court of Appeals, Ohio Supreme Ct.)

Administrative Law/Regulations & White House (Executive Branch):   Rules and regulations promulgated by government agencies (i.e. EPA, OSHA, Ohio Department of Education); Executive Orders of the President.

Secondary Resources

Secondary Legal Resources consist of a variety of sources written by legal scholars and experts.  Though not the law itself, secondary sources provide discussion and commentary on the law.  Secondary resources are often a great place to begin legal research and can be very useful in helping non-legal scholars understand the law on a particular topic or in a particular area.

Types of secondary resources include:

  • Law Review Articles
  • Legal Encyclopedias
  • Legal Books & Treatises
  • Restatements of the Law

Additional Legal Research Guides

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Laura Sheets

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