Legal Research

Key Resources:           Westlaw  info                 FindLaw  info       


Guides and Tips

Getting the Full-Text of Laws

Kind of Law

Statutory: Federal | State

Regulatory: Federal | State

Case Law: Federal | State


Recommended Resources


A leading legal research database, including the full-text of most U.S. laws and law review articles more details/tips

FindLaw (Legal Profesional)

A free website, FindLaw includes the full-text of many U.S. law codes and court opinions.

Access to the full-text of court opinions may require registering for a free account.

From the main site (, choose Legal Professional ( to access the full-text of laws.

US Government Printing Office: Federal Digital System

FDSys includes the official full-text of a variety of federal laws (including the US Code, laws and regulations)


Legislative research materials made available by the Library of Congress

LegInfo (California)

Official California Legislative Information (official versions of bills, laws, and the California codes)

Public Library of Law

Public access to law codes and selected court opinions (1997 - present) from all 50 states

Beyond Lexis: Legal Research Online

Guide to excellent online legal research tools, including many free and authoritative sites

Secondary Sources: Encyclopedias & Dictionaries

Westlaw: Secondary Sources

Westlaw provides several very useful titles under the Secondary Sources section, including the American Jurisprudence 2d encyclopedia of US law

Free Online Dictionaries

Glossary of Legislative Terms (California Legislature)

'Lectric Law Library's Legal Lexicon Dictionary

Secondary Sources: Law Reviews

Westlaw: Law Reviews 

Westlaw provides access to the full-text of articles in dozens of law reviews.

Law Reviews are accessible under the Secondary Sources section of Westlaw.

Tips for Law Review articles in Westlaw:

Make sure to choose the Secondary Sources option and then Law Reviews

Law Review Articles are very long

Use the Email LexisNexis Email Icon or Save LexisNexis Email Icon   options instead of printing

Secondary Sources: Websites

Beyond Lexis: Legal Research Online

Guide to excellent online legal research tools, including many free and authoritative sites

FindLaw (Professional Site)

Includes California section

Areas of Practice section includes links to excellent sites on specific areas (e.g. adoption, child abduction, education, taxation, etc.)

LII - Legal Information Institute (Cornell University)

"Law about" section includes links to federal and state statutes by topic, as well aguides to important legal areas (such as Family Law, Taxation, etc.)

Finding More Legal Research on the Web

Use a web search engine like Google to search for more sites on your topic. Remember to evaluate the website very carefully.

Tip - Most web search engines have a feature like Google's Advanced Search that allows you to limit by "domain." Limiting to the .gov domain ensures all of your results will come from federal and state government sites.

Examples of Websites on Specific Legal Issues

Child Abuse Reporting

Child Welfare Information Gateway (U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services)

State Statutes Related to Child Welfare

State Laws: Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect

Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect

Making a Report about Child Abuse (Child Abuse Council of Santa Clara)

Elder Abuse

California Department of Aging

National Center on Elder Abuse (Administration on Aging, U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services)