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Law Library User's Guide: Research

A guide to the services, collections, locations, policies and rules of the Law Library.

Proprietary Research Systems, Databases, and CD ROMs

Many proprietary research systems and databases are available for use by law faculty and those law students who have been trained on the systems, including Westlaw, LexisNexis, and Bloomberg Law. All research must be related to law school work. Questions concerning training should be directed to the library reference staff.

College of Law faculty and law students have access to proprietary systems whether they are in the building or at a remote location. However, users may only direct printouts to LexisNexis printers located in the Law Library or the College of Law; printouts may not be re-routed to a vendor printer located at another law school or location.

The Law Library has one CD-ROM workstation located in Special Services (Room 130) on Level 1 and is capable of accessing various databases and other CD-ROM items published by the United States Government Printing Office and received by this library through the Federal Depository Library Program.

The library acquires some treatises on CD-ROM as well as in print. These CDs are shelved in Special Services (Room 130).

Starting Legal Research

For the best research results, integrate print and online tools. Online tools are not substitutes for print tools.

  • Plan your research (use the guidelines below)
  • Consider research tools available to you
  • Use the online library catalog, InfoHawk, to identify the best resources
  • Take into consideration cost - balancing time and money with results to be achieved

Use print resources to:

  • gain a basic understanding of an area of law
  • research issues where search terms are too common, ambiguous, or have too many synonyms
  • research statutes or regulations because of their hierarchical structure, because it is easier to browse from section to section and because typeface may provide clues to understanding the text
  • research procedural issues which often rely on common words
  • explore complex concepts and legal theories or analogous situations
  • research older materials and other resources not available online

Online research is particularly useful when you:

  • have unique search terms or a unique fact pattern
  • have an emerging area of law
  • need information not published in print or not yet published in print
  • the research cannot be easily performed in print (e.g., multistate search, decisions by a particular judge, lawsuits involving a particular product)

Rely on Internet sources with caution:

  • Is the source reliable?
  • Is it up to date?
  • Check text for errors. Even reliable sources make mistakes.
  • Will the information be there later for documentation purposes?

For research assistance, please contact a Reference Librarian.