Law - US General

Law - U.S., General

The following is a selected list of resources for starting research in law. For further assistance, ask at the Reference Desk in the Law Library, or email your question at

Starting Your Research

These sources can help you identify a topic for your research. Some provide an overview of a specific issue and suggest other materials which might be useful for your research. Others help you to notice a topic that might be of interest to you.

  • Dictionaries
    These sources can help you understand legal terminology:
    • Black's Law Dictionary [LAW REF KF156 .B53 1999; copy also in DOCS REF]
    • Burton's Legal Thesaurus [LAW REF KF156 .B856 1998]
    • Everybody's Law Dictionary
    • Modern Dictionary for the Legal Profession [LAW RSRV KF156 .B49 2001]
    • Oxford Dictionary of American Legal Quotations [LAW REF KF159 .S53 1993]
    • Oxford Reference Online: Law
    • Random House Webster's Dictionary of the Law [LAW REF KF156 .C57 2000]
  • Encyclopedias
    These sources provide an overview of major legal subjects, concepts and events:
    • Oxford Companion to American Law [LAW REF KF156 .O94 2002]
    • West's Encyclopedia of American Law, 2d ed. [ LAW REF KF154 .W47 2004]
  • Research Guides
    These sources provide detailed steps for researching the law, including how to use many of the standard legal research tools:
    • Fundamentals of Legal Research [LAW REF KF240 .J32 2002]
    • How to Find the Law [LAW REF KF240 .C538 1989]
    • Legal Research: How to Find & Understand the Law [LAW LIB KF240 .E35 2001]
  • Legal Citation
    These sources can help you to understand legal abbreviations and the proper format for citing legal sources:
    • ALWD Citation Manual, 2d ed. [LAW RSRV KF245 .A45 2003 ]
    • Bieber's Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations [LAW RSRV KF246 .B46 2001]
    • Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation [LAW RSRV KF245 .U55 2005]
    • Prince's Bieber Dictionary of Legal Citations [LAW RSRV KF246 .B45 2001]

Finding Articles

To look for articles in law reviews, journals, and other legal periodicals, you will need to start with an index. An index will allow you to search by subjects or keywords which describe your topic, or by author.

  • Current Law Index [LAW READ KF8 .C8]
  • Current Legal Information [dedicated terminal in Law Library Reading Room]
    This CD-ROM database indexes legal journals from the United Kingdom.
  • European Journals Index [LAW READ KF8 .E97]
    Some articles indexed are in languages other than English.
  • Hein-On Line
    This database provides full-text coverage of law reviews prior to the time period covered by Lexis-Nexis Academic, below.
  • Index to Canadian Legal Periodical Literature [LAW READ KE8 .I38]
  • Index to Legal Periodicals [LAW READ KF8 .I38]
  • Legal Collection
    Uses EBSCO interface.
  • LegalTrac (electronic version of Current Law Index, above) [dedicated terminal in Law Library Reading Room]
    This database provides article citations only, but indexes a wider range of journals than Lexis-Nexis Academic, below.
  • Legal Periodicals Full Text
  • Legal Periodicals Retrospective
  • Lexis-Nexis Academic
    Use the link to "Law Reviews" for full-text searching and retrieval of these materials. See Hein-On-Line, above, for coverage of older articles.
  • Westlaw Campus
    Allows natural language searching.

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Finding Laws

  • Constitutions
    Constitutions make up the organic law of the United States, and of individual states. They specify how government is to be organized; what powers each major governmental component will have; and what basic rights are to be held by all who are governed.
  • Statutes
    Statutes are laws passed by the legislature. These laws begin as bills and, if passed, become session laws, i.e. laws passed during a particular legislative session. Most are then codified in statutory codes, which provide a subject organization for these laws.
  • Administrative Rules and Regulations
    Administrative rules and regulations are created by administrative agencies pursuant to a legislative delegation of authority, and are a type of law.
  • Judicial Opinions
    Judicial opinions, also called cases or decisions, are written interpretations of the law by judges and are, like statutes and administrative rules, statements of law.
    • Lexis-Nexis Academic
    • U.S. Supreme Court opinions in the Supreme Court Reporter [LAW READ KF101 .A24; selected opinions also at]
      Opinions indexed in the Supreme Court Digest [LAW READ KF101.1 .A24]
    • U.S. Courts of Appeals opinions in the Federal Reporter [LAW READ KF120 .F4; selected opinions also at]
      Opinions indexed in the Federal Practice Digest [LAW READ KF127 .W483]
    • U.S. District Court opinions in the Federal Supplement [LAW READ KF120 .F6; selected opinions also at]
      Opinions indexed in the Federal Practice Digest [LAW READ KF127 .W483]
    • Oregon Supreme Court opinions in Oregon Reports [LAW READ KFO2445 .A2; selected opinions also at ]
      Opinions indexed in the Oregon Digest 2d[LAW READ KFO2457 .N532b]
    • Oregon Court of Appeals opinions in Oregon Reports, Court of Appeals [LAW READ KFO2448 .A22; selected opinions also at ]
      Opinions indexed in the Oregon Digest 2d[LAW READ KFO2457 .N532b]
    • Other state opinions in West's regional reporters [LAW LIB KF135 .A76 - .S8; selected opinions also at, by state]
      Opinions indexed in the Decennial Digest [LAW LIB KF141 .W4]

Finding Books

  • UO LibrarySearch
    Identify books by topic, title or author; identify law reviews, journals and other periodicals owned by the UO Libraries. To find articles on your topic, use the indexes listed previously in this guide. Once you have a citation, you can check UO LibrarySearch by doing a title search on the name of the periodical that the article is in, to see if it's in the UO Libraries. You can borrow books not owned by the UO Library via Summit or Interlibrary loan.

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Web Resources

Created by anesbit on Jun 18, 2012 Last updated Jun 20, 2014