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Legal Information

Introduction


This research guide has been designed for use by members of the college who are not enrolled in a law-related course, but are looking for a specific piece of legal information. For example, legal materials such as court opinions are great primary sources; including them, when appropriate, in a writing assignment may complement the work.

Legal materials are interdisciplinary and can therefore be used within all areas taught at Saint Anselm College such as nursing (malpractice), social work (family court), psychology (human experimentation), politics (challenges to first amendment), philosophy (medical ethics).

Faculty and administrators may also occasionally require consulting the law in a particular area.

Use this guide to assist you in basic strategies for finding legal materials. It is not intended to be comprehensive. For further research assistance, please take advantage of the reference services available to you in the Geisel Library. Contact the Reference Desk in person or online at  Ask a Librarian.

 


Use Reference Books


For background information
The library has many resources for finding background information on legal topics in print and online formats. Here below is a selected list of some of the most helpful general sources. Please ask for help at the reference desk if additional background information is needed.

American Jurisprudence 2d
     Ref KF54 .A42
A modern comprehensive text statement of American law, both state and federal. Cited as Am. Jur. 2d, this multi-volume legal encyclopedia is an invaluable resource that outlines a broad overview of an issue (such as self-defense) and provides references to cases and other sources. Also available online through WestLaw Campus.

American Law Reports (ALR)
This resource is available through WestLaw Campus.
The ALR series contain attorney-written articles (called annotations) that thoroughly summarize and analyze the case law relating to specific legal issues.

Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations
The Cardiff Index can be searched either from abbreviation to title or from title to abbreviation.

Commonly Used Terms
For an easy-to-use online glossary of legal terms for the non-lawyer, from the Federal Judiciary.

Fundamentals of Legal Research
     Ready Ref KF240 .M469 2002
For a detailed explanation of legal research.

How to Read a Legal Citation
For understanding how to interpret legal citations from Schuyler M. Cook at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.

Legal Research in a Nutshell
     Ref KF240 .C54 2003
For beginning researchers. It provides a methodical overview with easy to read language and covers essential primary and secondary sources in American law.

Understanding Criminal Law
     Ref KF9219 .D74 2001
For finding criminal law.

Encyclopedia of the American Constitution
     Ref KF154 .W47
For finding constitutional law.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law
     Ref KF154 .W47
For finding historical concepts, events, movements, cases, and persons significant to U.S law.

Wex (Cornell Law School)
From Cornell Law School, Wex is 'a collaboratively built, freely available legal dictionary and encyclopedia.'

 

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For career information

Martindale-Hubbell® Law Directory
From LexisNexis, "Details on more than 900,000 lawyers & law firms around the world."

Martindale-Hubbell® Law School Directory
From LexisNexis, details on over 250 U.S. schools are provided.

Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools
An easy to search latest edition from the Law School Admission Council and the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar of the American Bar Association.

 

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Use WestLaw Campus


Westlaw Campus provides access to the complete laws and statutes of the federal government and all 50 states, and all federal regulations published in the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations. It also provides access to law review articles. For help with the Westlaw database, call 1-800-WESTLAW (1-800-937-8529).

For finding a court case (also called judicial opinions)

  1. Enter the case citation in "Find a document by citation" search box to the left of the window. This will return the most precise result.
  2. Enter case name in "Find a document by Title" search box.
  3. If case citation or name is not known, click on Go under KeySearch on the left hand menu. Choose a topic from the list and follow the prompts for state or federal cases.
  4. It is also possible to search for state and federal cases using the search boxes on the Main screen. Then choose one of the selections under "Cases".

For more detail about case law research, see  How to find a Court Case  from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

For finding a statute

  1. Enter your search terms in the search boxes on the Main Screen. Refer to the 'Search Tips' and 'More Search Tips' for help in improving your results.
  2. Choose one of the selections under "Statutes & Regulations".
  3. Click on the Search button to conduct the search.

For more information on finding state statutes, see  State Statutes by Topic from the Legal Information Institute at Cornell University.

For finding a law review article  

  1. Enter your search terms in the search boxes on the Main Screen. Refer to the 'Search Tips' and 'More Search Tips' for help in improving your results.
  2. Or, you may search for an article from the KeySearch option.
  3. Limit to words in title for more precise results. e.g., ti (entrapment).
  4. Select the 'Encyclopedias and Law Reviews' database. Choose the category 'Journals and Law Reviews' and then scroll down to "All Journals and Law Reviews". Or you might choose only those law reviews from a chosen state.
  5. Click on the Search button to conduct the search.

For finding international law

  1. Enter your search terms in the search boxes on the Main Screen. Refer to the 'Search Tips' and 'More Search Tips' for help in improving your results.
  2. Select the 'European Union Library' database. Select from the menu options.
  3. Click on the Search button to conduct the search.

For access to Canadian legal materials, see LexisNexis.

 

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About Lexis Nexis


LexisNexis provides access to a wealth of information including legal material such as case law, statutes and law reviews. Although Westlaw is the preferred method for locating case law because it includes Head Notes and synopses, LexisNexis is an alternative method for accessing legal information. LexisNexis also provides access to legal news publications such as the ABA Journal and Lawyers Weekly and state newsletters. Unlike Westlaw, LexisNexis provides access to Canadian legal materials. LexisNexis does not provide access to American Law Reports, a useful online reference which is available only from Westlaw. For more information about searching LexisNexis for legal information, please ask a librarian.

 

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Other Web Sources for Finding Legal Information


There are many helpful legal reference materials on the internet but care must be taken to evaluate the information you find. Here are some examples.

Federal Register
This is "the official daily publication for rules, proposed rules, and notices of United States federal agencies and organizations, as well as executive orders and other presidential documents."

FindLaw
Find cases, codes, statutes and regulations from each state. Choose the 'For Legal Professionals' tab > Cases & Codes.

Guides to Conducting Legal Research
Some excellent links to other institutions' guides, from Boston College School of Law.

Law by Subject - Pritzger Legal Research Center
From Northwestern University, points to other topically-arranged legal information sites.

Lawyers.com: Research Legal Information
From Lexis Nexis Martindale Hubbell, this site provides access to legal information by state and by topic. Also includes Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law.

New Hampshire Government - Laws and Rules
For online access to the NH statutes and administrative rules.

Saint Anselm College Library Guides
Library Course Guides have been prepared for law courses taught at the college. They include detailed instruction on searching Westlaw for specific assignments.

Supreme Court of the United States
Find court opinions back to 1991 (see 'Opinions > Bound Volumes'). See also Oyez for finding Supreme Court cases within an easy-to-use interface.

 

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Documenting Your Sources


Introduction to basic legal citation
This online guide prepared by Peter W. Martin at Cornell University School of Law, is an abridgement of the more detailed Bluebook: a uniform system of citation (Ready Ref
KF 245 .B4).

 

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