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Basic Legal Resources
This guide is designed to help you start your Law & Language library research.
Westlaw Campus and LexisNexis Academic (and HeinOnline, too) contain the full text of law review articles. They also all have the full text of federal and state case law (court opinions) as well as other research tools including encyclopedias and other reference books.
The advantage of using Westlaw Campus or LexisNexis Academic is that both publishers provide headnotes--brief summaries of the particular points of law made in the court case--that will help you interpret the opinion. They are a good place to look for linguistic issues that may not be in the body of the opinion itself.
Note that lower-level court transcripts are not available in these databases and are generally only available by contacting the original court for availability and ordering instructions. (Expect to pay a fee.) See newspapers/media coverage for additional information on cases that never made it to the appellate courts or beyond.
- Enter search terms into the search box.
- The database will show you the top two cases ranked by relevance and link you to the rest.
- The search engine is fairly forgiving and flexible, though this may result in false hits.
- Note: a red flag means the case has been overruled. Full text access to federal and state court cases, laws and regulations; legal periodicals and encyclopedias; European Union legal documents; and legal guides and information for pre-law students. Reference works include American Law Reports; American Jurisprudence 2d; Black's Law Dictionary.
- Multiple ways to search and the search is less forgiving/more precise. Try using LexisNexis if you're getting too much using Westlaw.
- In the Easy Search on the main screen, a search by Topic searches the headnotes and subject headings only.
- Use the left-hand menu to navigate to US Legal and Federal & State Cases. This search defaults to a full-text search of the cases, but still for the exact terms typed into the search box. Thousands of full-text sources including newspapers, wires, transcripts, newsletters, magazines, trade journals; also industry news, company information, law reviews, court decisions. Reference titles include: American Jurisprudence 2d; Ballentine's Law Dictionary; Bieber's Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations; A Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage; Modern Dictionary for the Legal Profession; Martindale-Hubbell® Legal Professionals Listings; Martindale-Hubbell® Law School Directory
Does not contain headnotes, but does include full text of legal periodicals plus primary sources such as the Code of Federal Regulations; Federal Register; Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS); Treaties and Agreements Library; United States Code; U.S. Attorney General Opinions; U.S. Congressional Documents; U.S. Federal Agency Documents, Decisions, and Appeals; U.S. Federal Legislative History Library; U.S. Statutes at Large; World Constitutions Illustrated
Includes full text of legal opinions from U.S. federal and state district, appellate and supreme courts.