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*School of Justice Studies*

Library and Learning Services information hub for all things School of Justice Studies.

Finding Resources

Best Bets: Begin your search for articles in the databases listed below:

Specialized Databases: Use these databases for in-depth research.

Understanding Legal Resources

When looking for legal materials, determine jurisdiction and branch of government by THINKING IN TRIANGLES:

                               FEDERAL                                                                             Legislative (Statutes)


    STATE                                LOCAL                                     Judicial(Cases)                         Executive(Regs)         

Start a search for legal information by determining who has jurisdiction (is it a Federal, state, or local issue), then decide whether the answer to the question will be found in the statutes, court opinions, or regulations. Once these questions are answered, you can begin to search for appropriate legal resources:

  • Cases (Federal or state case reporters)
  • Statutes (Federal or state codes, municipal or county codes)
  • Regulations (Code of Federal Regulations, State Administrative Codes, Local Ordinances)


Legal resources are divided into two categories: primary sources and secondary sources. 


In simple terms, primary sources are the rules of law.  They include the version of the Federal or state government's Constitution, statutes, court opinions, and administrative regulations that those jurisdictions recognize as official or having "primary authority." 

Secondary sources provide analysis and commentary about primary sources.  They assist legal researchers in locating and explaining the law.  Examples of secondary sources include:

·     Legal Dictionaries

·     Legal Encyclopedias

·     Law Reviews

·     Annotated Law Reports

·     Treatises, Hornbooks, and Nutshells

·     Restatements of the Law