Friday, October 10, 2014

Library of Congress's Guide To Law Online

When a legal issue presents itself from a new state or country, librarians must acquaint themselves with the legal materials from that state or country to do proper legal research. Understanding the courts within the jurisdiction or if the jurisdiction has an administrative code, for example, may be essential to proper legal research depending on the focus of the issue. 

One of my go-to resources for information about state, federal, or international resources is the Library of Congress's Guide to Law Online. The Guide aggregates and offers a portal to information from each of the jurisdictions. 

"In compiling this list, [the LOC emphasized] ... sites offering the full texts of laws, regulations, and court decisions, along with commentary from lawyers writing primarily for other lawyers. Materials related to law and government that were written by or for lay persons also have been included, as have government sites that provide even quite general information about themselves or their agencies."

When externs call from other jurisdictions wondering, for example, how to do legislative history in a particular state, this Guide offers links to the information that is available online from the jurisdiction. 

The Guide to Law Online offers the following information from the states:
  • Constitution
  • Executive (admin code or executive orders)
  • Judicial (court opinions)
  • Legislative (code and bills)
  • Legal Guides 
  • General Sources
This is just one tool in a librarian's arsenal to become acquainted with law from jurisdictions that she may not be familiar with. And it's a wonderful tool for legal research, in general. 

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