How to Locate New Law and Other Legal Sources

Gambling May 1, 2024

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Law students and lawyers alike are often overwhelmed by the volume of case law, statutes, books, journal articles and more. Adding to the challenge is that legal research must be precise and comprehensive. One contrary source that you miss can invalidate your work product. Developing and sticking to a research strategy can save time, ensure completeness and improve your work.

A new law is an official rule or regulation that has been created and passed by a legislative body like Congress or another legislature, such as a state’s legislature. A new law may change or limit existing laws, or it may add entirely new ones. A new law may be a statute, a legislative act or a constitutional amendment.

When a new law is introduced in either the House of Representatives or the Senate, it goes through a process of research, discussion and changes before being voted on by the chamber to become a new law. In addition, a committee’s report on the bill provides important information about the purpose and scope of the law as well as its intended impact.

The Center on Reproductive Rights and Justice is committed to promoting empirical research about the social effects of laws and policies governing reproductive choices, decisions and consequences. The Center also aims to broaden the dialogue about legal and policy issues that are central to reproductive rights and choices.

In recent years, empirical legal research has exploded as a method of lawmaking and legal scholarship. The UCLA Law Empirical Legal Research Group provides students with training, guidance and resources to better leverage empirical evidence in their law practice, advocacy and academic careers.

Legal databases such as Westlaw and Lexis provide users with tools to help identify relevant cases. These tools include headnotes that organize concepts explored in a case by subject. These headnotes can be helpful for finding other cases on the same subject, as well as for locating cases that have interpreted or applied certain statutes or rules.

A case, statute or regulation that has been overruled, reversed or questioned by other courts is considered no longer good law. To avoid using a case that may be no longer good law, a researcher can use a legal tool called a citator, which will tell the user whether the case has negative history. For example, the cite-checking software in Westlaw, KeyCite, will highlight a case with a red flag if it has been explicitly overruled or reversed. It will also display a yellow flag if the case has been criticized or limited in scope. Alternatively, the tool will display a blue-striped flag to warn that the case has been implicitly overruled by other cases. This warning is useful for students planning on citing the case in their own works. For more information, see Finding the Right Law for Your Project.

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