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A basic overview of the U.S. legal system and legal research.
Last Updated: Sep 14, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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All Our Legal Guides

Administrative Law
by Sara Lowe - Last Updated Jun 11, 2013
Rules, regulations, order, licenses, advisory opinions, and decisions promulgated by agencies or the President.
16 views this year
California Legal Research
by Sara Lowe - Last Updated May 20, 2013
Information on the California legal system.
12 views this year
CMC Psychology 180 Forensic Psychology
by Mary Martin - Last Updated Oct 16, 2014
135 views this year
Constitutional Law
by Sara Lowe - Last Updated May 20, 2013
Information on researching U.S. Constitutional Law, includes information on State Constitutional Research.
52 views this year
EA 95: U.S. Environmental Policy Processes
by Mary Martin - Last Updated Sep 16, 2014
EA 95 starts with the idea that institutions of government are not a fixed inheritance but choices that are constantly being revised. The goal of the course is to provide evidence for this idea through a basic introduction to both American institutions an
214 views this year
Federal Legislative History
by Sara Lowe - Last Updated Nov 5, 2013
How to find the law before it becomes the law.
13 views this year
International, Foreign, and Comparative Law
by Sara Lowe - Last Updated Oct 29, 2014
How to find and research international and foreign law.
93 views this year
IP Law
by Sara Lowe - Last Updated Jul 23, 2013
Contains information on the three primary areas of intellectual property law: copyright, patents, and trademarks.
20 views this year
Law/Legal Studies Portal
by Sara Lowe, Mary Martin - Last Updated Aug 19, 2013
153 views this year
Legal Citation
by Sara Lowe - Last Updated Oct 31, 2014
The basics of legal citation including citation styles Bluebook and ALWD.
454 views this year
Legal Databases How-to Search
by Sara Lowe - Last Updated Jun 18, 2013
Search tips and techniques for LexisNexis Academic, Westlaw, HeinOnline, and ProQuest Congressional
105 views this year
Legal Research
by Sara Lowe - Last Updated Sep 14, 2014
A basic overview of the U.S. legal system and legal research.
210 views this year


This guide provides an overview of Primary Sources, the three branches of government at the Federal and State (California) levels. It also includes information about locating Secondary Sources of law. Although it may seem non-intuitive, often the best way to research legal issues is to start with a secondary source (e.g., a law review article or book) and then use the information found in that source to find primary sources of law (e.g., statutes, cases, and regulations). In addition, The Basics lists questions to ask yourself when beginning to research a topic and information on jurisdictions. 


    Branches of Government

    Other Resources

    • Locating the Law  Icon
      Created by the Southern California Association of Law Libraries (SCALL) Public Access to Legal Information (PALI) Committee. Contains information about legal research, finding the law, and helping Self-Represented Litigants.


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