Online Legal Research for SMA 476

Posted Oct. 8, 2008.
Prepared by Cheryl Nyberg for Prof. Beth Bryant's Intro to Environmental Law and Process, SMA 476.

Now that you have been introduced to legal research in print sources, this guide provides links to free and commercial online sources for the same legal content. It follows the arrangement of the print sources handout and PowerPoint slideshow. Also included are sources you will find useful in completing your research exercise on Finding the Law Online.

Note: This list is not comprehensive; other free and commercial sites may also contain these sources. Visit the Law Library's Internet Legal Resources page for additional sources.

Commercial databases are UW Restricted. Click on the Off-Campus Access link and sign in with your UW NetID when computing from home.

Legal Authority Free Websites Commercial Databases
Proposed laws being considered by the U.S. Congress
Thomas, 101st Congress, 1989-date

GPO Access, 103d Congress, 1993-date

LexisNexis Congressional, 101st Congress, 1989-date

CQ, 1995-date

Public laws
Bills that have been approved by the U.S. House and Senate and signed into law by the President
Thomas, 101st Congress, 1989-date

GPO Access, 104th Congress, 1995-date

HeinOnline, U.S. Statutes at Large, 1789-2006+

LexisNexis Congressional, 100th Congress, 1988-date

In-force laws of a general and permanent nature arranged by subject and published in the U.S. Code
Cornell's Legal Information Institute, U.S. Code, current ed.

GPO Access, U.S. Code, current and 1994 eds.

LexisNexis Academic, U.S. Code Service, current ed. (includes references to court opinions and law review articles)

LexisNexis Congressional, U.S. Code Service, current ed.

Proposed regulations
Regulations proposed by government agencies under authority delegated to them by law and published in the Federal Register
GPO Access, Federal Register, vol. 59, 1994-date, Proposed and final regulations, agency guidance, and public comments, 1997-date

HeinOnline, Federal Register, vol. 1, 1936-date

LexisNexis Congressional, Federal Register, 1981-date

Final regulation published in the Code of Federal Regulations
Cornell's Legal Information Institute, current ed.

GPO Access, Electronic CFR, curent

HeinOnline, 1938-date

LexisNexis Congressional, 1981-date


Government Agency Websites

Government agency websites provide a wealth of information. Agencies are given specific responsibility for enforcing certain laws and their websites often contain or link to relevant laws and regulations.

The main portal for federal government information.
Browse the A-Z Index of U.S. Government Departments and Agencies or use the search feature to locate pages dealing with a particular law or subject.

Other sites that provide information about and links to federal agency websites include:                                


Washington State

Washington and all other state governments produce legal authorities. Visit the Law Library's Internet Legal Resources page for links to online sources for bills, laws, and regulations.

The main portal for Washington State government information.
Browse the State Websites list or use the search feature to locate pages dealing with a particular law or subject.


Secondary Sources

Secondary sources describe, discuss, analyze, and/or criticize the law. Law review articles are one type of secondary source that can be helpful in understanding how the law has been applied and interpreted.

Contains law review articles from the mid-1980s to date.
Search by the popular name of a law or by subject.
Specify date (Previous 5 years) to get most recent articles.
Sort results by relevance so that articles that use your search terms the most often appear at the top.


You can also find articles that focus on particular sections of a law. Find the law in the U.S. Code Service on LexisNexis Academic and then scroll down to the Law Review Articles heading. Click on the links provided to get the articles.

Remember to browse the footnotes for leads to other great secondary sources, such as books, government reports, newspaper and magazine stories, studies, and other articles. 


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