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There are different types of laws, and you will need to know what kind you are looking for to get started.
Statutory law is written by legislative bodies, e.g., Congress and state legislatures.
Case law is that established by courts, e.g. common law, and interpretation of statutes and constitutions.
Regulations are laws written by agencies, e.g. Environmental Protection Agency.
You will also need to know what level of government would be creating the law: federal, state, or local.
Use secondary analysis sources to discover what laws might relate to your topic. Keep in mind that laws change over time, so you want your secondary sources to match the time period that you are interested in.
Click on "Congress in Context" to find reports by year that give historical context of each Congressional term, including an overview of party divisions and leadership, economic conditions, conflicts, major laws, Landmark Supreme Court cases and major events. This covers all Congressional terms, starting with the first in 1789.
Substative background information about the laws, institutions, and actors that have governed America throughout its history, covering topics like from presidents and Supreme Court justices to specifics of policy history, critical legislation, and party formation. This is a great source for gaining context about your topic.
Look for "Nutshell" books to get an overview of current law on various topics, focusing on how the courts have interpreted the law. "Law Stories" books give the stories behind major Supreme Court cases on various topics.
Creating a West Academic account allows you to take notes, highlight, save favorites, download titles for offline access, and more. Click ‘Create an Account’ in the upper right-hand corner and follow the prompts.
This is a legal encyclopedia with a comprehensive set of brief articles on topics in current federal law. This is a great place to start to understand the law for a specific area, with references to judicial history.
A browseable and searchable U.S. Constitution, with an overview of how it has been interpreted over time and discussions of the Supreme Court’s latest opinions. This is a great place to start for understanding constitutional law.
Finding Relevant Statutes
Start with background information, books, or other secondary sources for references to specific statutes. Make sure your secondary sources match the time period you are interested in.
Search in Wikipedia by topic or popular name for links to the official U.S. Code.
For bills, search Congress.gov by popular name.
To narrow results, use the official public law or bill number citation. Numbers can be found in Congress.gov, Wikipedia, U.S. Code, etc.