Intro to Legal Research

  1. Legal vocabulary is different than everyday English. Some words look and sound the same but may have different meanings.
    Tools that can help: Black's Law Dictionary is the standard for legal professionals. NOLO's Plain-English Law Dictionary is helpful if you're new to legal jargon.

  2. Keep an open mind. Focus on your question rather than look for something that supports what you think is true. It's just possible that what you think you know isn't actually so. Embrace your learning!

  3. Describe your situation in 2 or 3 sentences. This will help you identify your question.

  4. Where did this happen?

  5. Who is responsible for enforcing the law in this area?

  6. If there are no laws or ordinances regulating your situation, does a court have control?

  7. If the answer to #6 is "no," your question may be better directed to a social service agency. Please ask a librarian to help you find one for your situation.

Before you stop: Did you find what you were looking for? It's possible that "no" is the answer. Check with the librarian just to be sure.

Statutory Law
Kansas Statutes are available online; federal laws may be found at United States Code (USCS) and Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).

Background Resources
These are legal encyclopedias (AmJur2d, CJS), periodicals (American Law Reports, or ALR), and practice handbooks such as the Kansas Law & Practice series from West on Family Law, Civil Procedure, and Evidence.These, too, are available online in our library.

Case notes
If your research takes you to Westlaw (online resource), you may notice "Keycite" flags that correspond to the Key Number system, which streamlines research results by topics and similar cases.
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Relevant case/many relevant cases
The most difficult part of research is knowing when to stop. If you start running into the same cases, that's usually a sign that you've exhausted your options.

Be Curious