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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.