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LRNR 30: Information Concepts and Research Skills: Law / Legal Research

General research guide for LRNR 30 class

Tips for Legal Searching

Understanding legal research and language

  • Read laterally: open multiple sources to locate news, government policy and legal bills or legislation.
  • Look at citation or works cited to locate sources 
  • Locate bill authors, proposition authors or sponsors, and do an open web search to learn more.
  • Locate landmark supreme court cases using NexisUni, reference books, or SIRs Researcher database.

Understanding Jurisdictions

Finding a law or case can depend on knowing the jurisdiction of the court. In most cases these jurisdictions fall under three categories: federalstate and local.

  • Federal (sometimes national) jurisdiction can involve laws affecting only the entire country and be cases tried before the US Supreme Court
  • State jurisdiction can involve laws affecting only the state and be cases tried before the Washington Supreme Court
  • Local jurisdiction can involve laws affecting only the particular district or municipality and be cases tried before the county court such as Pierce County Superior Court

Links to these three different courts can be found below.

Knowing which Jurisdiction can help in searching the right databases and navigating to the right webpages. The Library of Congress has an excellent Legal Research Guide that is divided by jurisdictions. Check it out by clicking the link below.

Other useful information to gather before you search:

  • Court Name: the name of the court where the case is being held
  • Individuals first and last names of those involved in the case
  • Business names of those involved in the case
  • Case type (Criminal; Civil etc.)
  • Law type (Permanent; Regulation; Appropriation)
  • Code citation (RCW 82.32.180)

Legislative Resources

Find Legislation, Bills and Propositions

Books of Interest - In Print and / or eBooks

Legal Research Databases through MCCD

Encyclopedias - In Print & Online