Introduction to Legal Research
Researching a legal question often involves working with several types of law:
- Statutory law consists of laws, or statutes, passed by a legislature, for example, the United States Congress.
- Administrative law refers to the regulations made by administrative agencies which specify how legislation will be carried out. An example of an administrative agency is the Environmental Protection Agency.
- Case law consists of court decisions. Depending on the level of the court involved, a court decision may set precedent which becomes part of the law. For example, decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court set precedent for all lower courts.
Legal research is complicated by the fact that all these types of law may function at various governmental levels. For example, an activity may be subject to regulations from both federal and state administrative agencies.
See the tabs above for more information on each type of law, for municipal and local law, and other special topics.
Learn more about legal research: Fundamentals of Legal Research, located in the reference collection, second floor Dunbar library; Ref KF240.M469 2002You can also search for "legal research" in the University Libraries catalog.
Current Legal News
This guide was prepared for use by Wright State University students, faculty, and staff. Print resources are titles held in Dunbar Library. Subscription databases are available to all library users in Dunbar Library. Remote access from these pages is available to Wright State faculty, staff, and students.
Interpreting Legal Citations
Legal citations follow this format:
- numerical designation of the major part of a set
- abbreviation for the source
- secondary numerical designation.
|Citation||What it means|
|40 CFR 87.1||Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations, section 87.1|
|197 F.3d 1178||Volume 197 of the Federal Reporter, 3rd Series, page 1178|
Where to find more information
Reading Legal Citations (from Boston College Law Library) is a guide to legal citations and includes a list of common abbreviations
Bieber's Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations (Ref KF246 .P73 2001) provides a comprehensive list of abbreviations. Located in the reference collection, second floor, Dunbar Library