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Legal Research
University of Illinois School of Law
Healey, Paul D.

Legal Research I_Healey_Fall 2010
4 main sources of law (federal and state):
1.      Constitution
a.       Established system of government and boundaries of authority
2.      Statutes
a.       legislative branch
3.      Cases
a.       common law / judicial branch
4.      Administrative regulation
a.       executive branch
Constitution 3 purposes
·         1. Organic Law- sets up shape and structure and form of gvt.
·         2. Delineate powers of gvt that it is setting up
·         3. Delineate rights and liberties to individual citizens
o   US Constitution is the preeminent source of law in our legal system and all rules (state and federal) must apply
§  Sets up areas of federal interest
*State Constitution may grant more rights but not lesser rights than US Const
Types of Weight-
1.      primary-  rules of law
a.        can be mandatory or persuasive based on jurisdiction or level of court
2.      secondary- commentary on law
a.       always persuasive
3.      mandatory- binding or obligated to follow
4.      persuasive- may follow but not binded
Federal Court System
            US district courts
–          at least one in each state
            US court of appeals
–          11 numbered circuits + DC and Federal circuits (total 13)
US Supreme Court
State Court System
            Trial Courts
            Intermediate Appellate Courts
–          not all states have one
            Court of Las

ackground to generate search terms
–     lead to primary sources
1. legal encyclopedias
      a. general subject
      b. overview on general law
      c. no analysis limited in scope
      d. Am. Jur. 2d or C.J.S
      d. 35 C.J.S. False Imprisonment S 1 (1999).
2. Treatises
      a. in depth treatment
      b. single topic
c. Fowler V. Harper, The Law of Torts vol. 1, S 3.6, 326-27 (3d rev. ed., Aspen Publisher 2006)
3. Legal Periodicals
      a. law review
      b. journals
      c. Legal Trac or Hein
      d. Rebecca Brown, Accountability, 98 Colum. L. Rev. 531, 532 (1998).
4. American Law Reports
      a. annotated and by topic
      b. Debra Landis, Civil Liability, 97 A.L.R.3d 688, 691 (1980 & Supp. 2009).
5. Restatements
      a. restate common law rules
      b. commentary and illustrations
      c. Restatement (second) of Torts S 35 (1965)
6. Uniform Laws and Model Acts
      a. proposed statutes that can be adopted by legislature
      b. in print ULA
      c. U.C.C S 2-209, 1 U.L.A. 417 (1989)
1.      by citation
2.      by subject
3.      by words in document
Print Research Steps
1.      using index or table of contents
2.      locate material
3.      updating research