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Legal Research

This guide describes the resources and services available to Doane University students doing legal research.

Getting Started

Where do you begin searching? Knowing what kind of information you are looking for helps:

  • a specific court decision

  • court decisions on a particular topic

  • a specific law or regulation

  • laws or regulations on a particular topic

  • general information on a legal topic

  • legal forms

  • legal advice


These guides may be useful to help kickstart your research:

Adapted from Basic Legal Research guide, Marshall University Libraries, 2019

Where does "the law" come from?

We generally think that "the law" is made by legislative action, but that is only one way we get our laws. It is really a combination of three types of law that, in general, follows the governmental structure of the jurisdiction. In the United States we have these three types of laws:

  • Statutory law passed by a legislative body, such as the United States Congress or a state legislature
    • United States Code is the codification by subject matter of the general and permanent laws of the US
    • United States Statutes at Large contain the permanent laws – public and private – enacted during each session of Congress
    • Nebraska Law from the state legislature website; search by keyword or statute range
  • Administrative law, which are regulations and rules made by administrative agencies on how they will carry out the legislative laws, e.g. the United States Environmental Agency or the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality
    • Code of Federal Regulations is the codification of the general and permanent rules published in the Federal Register by the departments and agencies of the Federal Government
  • Case law, that is, court decisions; usually opinions written by appellate courts, which are binding law on lower courts in the jurisdiction

Adapted from Basic Legal Research guide, Marshall University Libraries, 2019