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How to find cases, statutes, regulations, and other law-related material

3 things to know before you start

Know before you go:

1. There are three kinds of law and they all exist at both state and federal levels:

  • Case or judicial law which consists of court cases/decisions/opinions
  • Statutory or legislative law which consists of statutes/public laws/acts
  • Administrative law which consists of regulations and rulings.

2. Federal resources are much easier to find than state ones.

3. Know as much as you can before searching:

  • Are you looking for a case, a statute, or a regulation?
  • Is it federal or state? If state, which one?
  • If it's a case, what are the names of the parties? What was the date? What was the legal issue?
  • If it's a statute, does it have a popular name like the ADA or NET Act?
  • What is the citation? A citation is the most useful information you can have because it's unique. To find citations of cases (e.g. 5 US 137), statutes (e.g. PL 101-336), or regulations (e.g. 26 CFR 1.10), try searching an encyclopedia, book, or journal article.

Legal system chart