Legal Reference Resources and Finding Tools
This research guide lists legal reference resources that provide guidance in use of legal materials, general introductions to the legal topics and tools to find legal information.
Guides to Legal Research
- Fundamentals of Legal Research (Mersky and Dunn) 2002 (ref KF240 J32 2002)
- Guide to the U.S. Federal Legal System: Web-Based Publically Accessible Sources (Feltes) 2008
- How to Find the Law (Cohen, Berring & Olson) 1989 (ref KG 240 C538 1989)
- Legal Research: How to Find and Understand the Law (Elias & Levinkind) 2002 (ref KF 240 .E35 2002)
- Legal Research for the 21st Century (Berring) 2000 (Video 4415) Five videocassettes covering 1) Basics; 2) Case finding and the future of cases; 3) Citators and secondary source research; 4) Statutes, legislative history and administrative materials; and 5) Legal research on the internet and research strategies.
- Legal Research in a Nutshell (Cohen & Olson) 2007 (ref KF 240 C54)
- Legal Information: How to Find It, How to Use It (Olson) 1999 (ref KF 240 O365 1999)
- Locating the Law: A Handbook for Non-Law Librarians (Southern California Association of Law Libraries) 2011. Includes chapters on California legal resources
- Virtual Chase: Legal Research (Justia.com)
- Web Guide to U.S. Supreme Court Research (Partin)
- Zimmerman's Research Guide: An Online Encyclopedia for Legal Researchers (Zimmerman) Topical guide to Internet sources of legal information. Keyword and phrase searchable.
- Henke's California Law Guide (Martin) 2002 (ref KFC 74 H46)
- Zimmerman's Research Guide: California (Zimmerman)
See also the sources listed in the Overview of Legal Research: Legal Process that give an overview of the federal and California legislative, judicial and administrative process.
Legal Citation and Abbreviations
- Beiber's Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations (HSU Users Only (print copy available in ref KF 246 B46 1993) Contains over 30,000 abbreviations to legal sets.
- The Bluebook: a Uniform System of Citation (Harvard Law Review Association) 1993 (print copy available in ref Kf 245 B58) The standard style manual for legal citation.
- Common Abbreviations (Sacramento County Public Law Library)
- Introduction to Basic Legal Citation (Martin--Cornell Law School) Style manual for legal citation that follows The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation.
- "Table of Abbreviations" in Black's Law Dictionary (ref KF 156 B53)
- Ballentine's Law Dictionary (HSU Users only)
- Black's Law Dictionary (print copy available in ref KF 156 B53)
- Duhaime's Law Dictionary - written in plain language
- Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary (Nolo) - contains plain-English definitions for more than one thousand legal terms
- Law Dictionary (Findlaw)
- Federal Regulatory Directory (Congressional Quarterly) Biennial (ref KF 5408 A15 F4) Comprehensive guide to federal regulatory agencies. Includes laws under which agencies derive their regulatory responsibilities.
- United States Government Manual (National Archives and Records Administration) Annual (print copy available in ref JK 421 A3) Directory of federal agencies. Entries include a short description of responsibilities, agency officials and contacts, reference to legislative acts which established an agency, and references to organizational statements in the Code of Federal Regulations.
Encyclopedias and Treatises
- American Jurisprudence 2d (LexisNexis Academic/Lawyers' Cooperative Publishing Company) Search by keyword or browse alphabetically by article title (HSU Users Only) One of two major scholarly legal encyclopedias on American law--state, federal, criminal, civil and procedural. The 430 articles collect, examine, and sumarize the broad principles of American law and provide direct leads to supporting cases, related annotations, forms, proofs, and trial techniques.
- Corpus Juris Secundum (West Group) 1998, with pocket supplements (KF 154 C6) One of two major scholarly legal encyclopedias that explain legal principles and doctrine that apply throughout the United States. The source and focus is almost exclusively on case law. Statutes and regulations and historical interpretations are seldom included. Published in over 150 volumes and includes over 450 individual articles. Includes separate indexes for all cited cases, rules and regulations. A Table of Contents for the volumes is available.
- Encyclopedia of the American Constitution (Levy and Karst) 2000 (6 volumes) (ref KF 4548 E53 2000)
- Summary of California Law (Witkin) 2005, with pocket supplements (ref KFC 80 W5 2005) 16 volume treatise that represents a summary statement of California law. Includes references to statutory and case law, law reviews, and other secondary sources.
- Free Legal Articles and FAQs (Nolo Press)
- Gale Encyclopedia of Everyday Law (HSU Users Only) (Batten) 2011. Explains legal terms and concepts in everyday language through nearly 5,000 entries devoted to terms, concepts, events, movements, cases, and persons significant to U.S. law.
- Major Acts of Congress (Landsberg) 2004 (HSU users only) Encyclopedia that includes articles on major acts of Congress.
- Oxford Companion to American Law (Hall and Clark) 2002 (ref KF 154 O96 2002)
- WEX (Cornell Law School. Legal Information Institute) Collaboratively-edited legal dictionary and encyclopedia intended for "law novices". Includes definitions from Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary. Many encyclopedia entries include a "Resources' tab to statutes, regulations, judicial decisions, key Internet resources and important secondary sources.
Major legal literature databases are listed in Articles and Databases: Legal Research.
- DRAGNET (Database Retrieval Access using Google’s New Electronic Technology) (New York Law School) Search tool that allows one to run a Google search simultaneously in more than 80 legal web sites and databases.
- FindLaw - includes LawCrawler, a search engine for law-related information on the web
- Guide to Law Online (Law Library of Congress) Annotated guide to sources of online information on government and law.
- Legal Research Engine (Cornell University Law Library)
- The Law Engine
- LawGuru. com
- Legal Information Institute (Cornell Law School)
- Public Library of Law
- WashLaw: Legal Research on the Web (Washburn University School of Law)