The purpose of this guide is to help users unfamiliar with legal research identify the key areas of legal research and locate materials in those areas.
This guide includes Federal materials, more specifically statutes, cases, and administrative law, as well S Some information on state law, specifically Florida, is also included in this guide.
Please note that this guide does not constitute legal advice.
What kind of information are you looking for?
the text of a court decision
court decisions on a topic
the text of a specific law (statute) or regulation
laws or regulations on a topic
Sources of Law
Most people think of "the law" as laws that are passed by the legislature, but in reality the law is a complex interplay of three types of law. These types of law typically follow the structure of the jurisdiction's government. Therefore, in the United States the types of law are:
Statutory Law: laws passed by a legislative body, such as the United States Congress or the Georgia General Assembly.
Administrative Law: decisions, rules, and regulations made by administrative agencies which specify how they will carry out legislation. A good example is the United States Postal Service or the Environmental Protection Agency.
Case Law: court decisions, usually opinions written by appellate courts, which are binding law on the lower courts in the jurisdiction.
What is the difference between a civil and criminal case? What kinds of cases are heard in federal court and state court? If you're in a lawsuit, what should you expect? Get answers to these questions and more in this overview of the U.S. legal system