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American Law Guides for Beginners (and Canadian legal researchers)

At the Great Library, we’re always looking for simple, accessible resources that can provide our users with a good starting point for their U.S. legal research. So we were happy to discover that the Law Library of Congress has produced a series of beginner’s guides to American law topics.

Topic choices are pulled from the library’s frequently asked questions, and the guides are designed to assist researchers get their bearings in an unfamiliar area of law. So, they are well-suited to the needs of non-US legal researchers.

The guides are published on the Law Library of Congress blog, In Custodia Legis. Each one offers an introduction to the area of law, some research tips and a well-researched selection of secondary, primary and free online sources. Here are a few examples:

Patent Law: A Beginner’s Guide outlines the U.S. patent process, provides advice on where to search for patent laws and cases, and gives the titles of leading texts, as well as links to online resources, patent organization websites and practitioner blogs.

The Administration of a Probate Estate: A Beginner’s Guide includes a list of useful secondary sources and provides direction to state probate codes where answers to common questions about the administration of estates can be found.

Federal Statutes: A Beginner’s Guide aims to de-mystify federal statutory research by explaining the statutory publication process and describing where each type of statutory publication can be found.

Check In Custodia Legis for a full list of Beginner’s Guides.


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The British Are Leaving!

A form of Brexit is currently taking place in the Great Library’s American Room. British law reports and statutes are leaving. But not to worry – these materials are being cleaned and moved to their new location on the library’s 1st floor. Continue reading


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Nobody Knows Everything

What should you do when you have to research a totally unfamiliar area of law? No one knows everything, so it’s a great strategy to look for a reputable source, print or online, that provides an overview or background information to give you a starting point. Continue reading


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How to Find Law Society Discipline Decisions

We have a new legal research guide about finding a specific type of tribunal decision – How To Find Law Society Discipline Decisions. The guide covers available sources of full-text discipline decisions issued by the Law Society of Upper Canada’s Hearing and Appeal Divisions, as well as sources for older decision summaries. We also include a few tips for searching these sources. Continue reading