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Pritzker Legal Research Center


Standout Summer Research Resources

A Guide to Prepare for Summer Associateships and Beyond

Where to Find Statutory Codes

For current, annotated federal and state statutory codes, use Westlaw Edge and Lexis Advance.  Recall that annotated codes include not only the statutory text, but also citing references and Notes of Decisions (Westlaw Edge) or Case Notes (Lexis Advance).

The full-text of the U.S. Code (unannotated) is also available on:

State statutory codes (unannotated) are also available on the websites of state legislatures, accessible via a Google search.

Strategies to Find Relevant Sections of Statute

  1. Secondary Sources.  Find a reference to the relevant title, chapter or specific section of a statute in a secondary source. Wikipedia often has good summaries of federal statutes and a Google search can lead to agency websites with the text of the code and/or a summary of the law.
  1. Popular Name Table.  Many statutes are referred to by their popular name, also known as the short title. Use the Popular Name Table on Westlaw Edge, Lexis Advance, Cornell's Legal Information Institute (https://www.law.cornell.edu/topn) or the U.S. House of Representatives – Office of the Law Revision Counsel website (http://uscode.house.gov/) to look up acts by popular name.  This tool is also useful for finding cross references between public law/popular name section numbers and U.S. Code section numbers (e.g., CERCLA section 113 is located at 42 U.S.C. § 9613).
  1. Keyword search.  Think broadly when brainstorming search terms. When reviewing search results, focus on what title or chapter the results come from, then browse nearby sections using the table of contents.  Using the advanced search feature on both Westlaw Edge and Lexis Advance, it is possible to search just the text of the code, not the annotations.
  1. Table of Contents.  Statutes have a natural subject arrangement, so browse the table of contents to find related sections of the code.  Consider browsing to a title or chapter, then performing a keyword search.  This will help eliminate extraneous results.
  1. Subject Index.  Available on Westlaw Edge, this tool is useful when searching for common terms (e.g., corporations) or when keyword searches return too many or too few results.

No matter what strategy you use to find a section, use the table of contents to browse nearby sections

How to Find Cases and Administrative Materials Interpreting Statutes

Start with resources selected by editors of the annotated codes. 

  • For interpretive cases, use the Notes of Decisions on Westlaw Edge or Case Notes on Lexis Advance.
  • For interpretive secondary sources, use the Context & Analysis tab on Westlaw Edge or the Research References & Practice Aids section on Lexis Advance (located at the bottom of the page).

Use citators such as KeyCite/Citing References on Westlaw Edge or Shepard’s on Lexis Advance.  Use the jurisdiction filter and/or the “search within results” feature to narrow your results.

Researching Historical Statutes

Historical versions of the U.S. Code are available on HeinOnline (1925-2012), Westlaw Edge (1990+), Lexis Advance (1992+) and Govinfo (1994+).

Historical versions of state statutes are available on HeinOnline in the State Statutes: Historical Archive library. Coverage varies by state, but primarily early historical codes. Westlaw & Lexis coverage for historical state statutes varies by state, but generally begins in mid-1980s.

The PLRC has historical state statutes in print and on microform.  Ask a reference librarian for assistance.

Uniform Laws

Created by the Uniform Law Commission (ULC).  See https://www.uniformlaws.org for both the text of acts and enactment status in specific jurisdictions.

Uniform Laws Annotated is available on Westlaw Edge.  It contains the text of uniform laws, annotations, and information about adoption by states, including citations to state codes.

Statutory Construction