The initial step in approaching many legal research questions is to determine whether there is an applicable statute. Legal treatises, law review articles, and other secondary sources will often indicate the controlling statutes in an area of law and are good starting places for statutory research. This guide is intended to assist the user in both locating and updating known statutes and in identifying federal statutes by citation, name, or subject. Some important Internet sites are linked throughout this document, as well as Lexis and Westlaw categories.
In most cases, the materials listed here will provide sufficient research leads to identify and interpret appropriate statutes and relevant case and regulatory laws. Sometimes, however, an examination of the legislative intent behind the enactment of a statute will be required to understand a statute’s purpose or applicability. Our guide Federal Legislative History outlines the steps involved in conducting a federal legislative history. Legislative history research can be time consuming. If you are a summer associate, law clerk or research assistant you should consult with your supervising attorney or professor to determine if conducting legislative history research is necessary to your particular research question.