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Guide to Legal Research Basics
Need more assistance on where to go for basic legal research? See this guide from our Law Library!
To find the full text of a federal law or bill use:
Search "All Legislation" and use the filters to limit to bills from a particular congress, particular topics, or other facets.
Looking for a particular piece of well-known legislation, but searching for the name you know isn't working? If you look for a Wikipedia page about the bill, there will likely be a link to the Congress.gov text of the bill that you can use as a shortcut.
ProQuest Congressional Publications
HINT: To find the full text of federal laws and their legislative histories (committee hearings, testimony), click on the link for Legislative Insight under Legislative Histories.
HINT: Track House and Senate Bills by using the bill number search linked from the "Bills by Number section."
HINT: Follow the 'Public and Private Laws' link to search for the full text of laws. Follow the 'Code of Federal Regulations' link to search for regulations that implement the law.
To find the full text of a state law or bill use:
Finding Case Law
Find court cases and decisions that shape law relevant to your issue in
Use the "Look up a Legal Case" tab to search for a particular case or search for a topic. It is often easier to identify relevant cases through news searches or IS organizations (see the Current Debates tab) and then search for those specifically, rather than trying to search for relevant cases by topic in Lexis.
Results may include entries for the same case in different stages of appeals. For example, a search for Authors Guild vs. HathiTrust, a recently resolved case involving copyright and fair use in the creation of the HathiTrust digital archive, brings up district and appeals court hearings.
When looking at an individual court case and decision, choose "Shepardize" in the "Next Steps" drop-down on the top right in order to related cases, including cases cited in the decision, and also academic legal research articles about the case. These may be important for you to look at as well to fully understand the law about the topic.
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