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Law - United States, General

This guide is a selected list of resources for starting research in United States law.

Starting Your Research

The following is a selected list of resources for starting research in law. For further assistance, ask at the Reference Desk in the Law Library, or email your question at

These sources can help you identify a topic for your research. Some provide an overview of a specific issue and suggest other materials which might be useful for your research. Others help you to notice a topic that might be of interest to you.

  • Dictionaries
    These sources can help you understand legal terminology:
    • Black's Law Dictionary [LAW REF KF156 .B53 2014]
    • Burton's Legal Thesaurus [LAW REF KF156 .B856 1998]
    • Everybody's Law Dictionary
    • Modern Dictionary for the Legal Profession [LAW REF KF156 .B49 2008]
    • Oxford Dictionary of American Legal Quotations [LAW REF KF159 .S53 1993]
    • Oxford Reference Online: Law
    • Random House Webster's Dictionary of the Law [LAW REF KF156 .C57 2000]
  • Encyclopedias
    These sources provide an overview of major legal subjects, concepts and events:
    • Oxford Companion to American Law [LAW REF KF156 .O94 2002; also available online]
    • West's Encyclopedia of American Law, 2d ed. [LAW REF KF154 .W47 2005]
  • Research Guides
    These sources provide detailed steps for researching the law, including how to use many of the standard legal research tools:
    • Fundamentals of Legal Research [LAW RES KF240 .J3 2009]
    • How to Find the Law [LAW REF KF240 .C538 1989]
    • Legal Research: How to Find & Understand the Law [LAW LIB KF242.A1 E43 2009]
  • Legal Citation
    These sources can help you to understand legal abbreviations and the proper format for citing legal sources:
    • ALWD Citation Manual, 5th ed. [LAW RSRV KF245 .A45 2014 ]
    • Prince's Bieber Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations [LAW RSRV KF246 .B46 2009]
    • Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation [LAW RSRV KF245 .U55 2010]
    • Prince's Bieber Dictionary of Legal Citations [LAW RSRV KF246 .B45 2001]

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