Law on the net a workshop for non law librarians an infopeople workshop
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Law on the ‘Net: A Workshop for Non-Law Librarians An Infopeople Workshop. April 2004 Laura A. Cadra [email protected] Agenda. Sources of Law California Law Federal Law Finding Attorneys Legal Forms Where to Start When You Have No Idea Where to Start. What is Law ?.

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Law on the ‘Net: A Workshop for Non-Law Librarians An Infopeople Workshop

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Law on the net a workshop for non law librarians an infopeople workshop

Law on the ‘Net: A Workshop for Non-Law LibrariansAn Infopeople Workshop

April 2004

Laura A. Cadra

[email protected]



  • Sources of Law

  • California Law

  • Federal Law

  • Finding Attorneys

  • Legal Forms

  • Where to Start When You Have No Idea Where to Start

What is law

What is Law?

  • The entire body of principles, precedents, rules, and procedures intended to assure order and justice in a civilized society. It includes constitutions, legislation, decisions – federal, state, and local, civil and criminal (Mellinkoff’s Dictionary of American Legal Usage )

  • And don’t forget regulations!

Reference inquiries

Reference Inquiries

  • Are you looking for general information about a legal issue?

  • Is your issue federal? State? Local?

  • Are you looking for a specific piece of law?

    • a Vehicle Code section?

    • a local ordinance?

  • Are you looking for a form?

  • Are you looking for an attorney?

Sources of law

Sources of Law

  • Primary Sources

    • Produced by governmental bodies

    • Binding!!

    • Unofficial and official versions

  • Secondary Sources

    • Information about the law

    • Best place to start most legal research

Secondary sources on the net

Secondary Sources on the ‘Net

  • Nolo Press – Our friends in any format

  • Cornell Legal Information Institute (LII) Law About Series

  • California Courts Self-Help Center

    • ¡Se habla español!

    • Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese tambien!

Legal citation

Legal Citation

The formalized legal reference to an authority and the place where it can be found (Mellinkoff’s Dictionary of American Legal Usage)

Citation formats

Citation Formats

  • Cases: Vol. no./Reporter Set/Page no. (date)

    • U.S. ex rel. Mayo v. Satan and his Staff, 54 F.R.D. 282 (1971)

    • Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98 (2000)

    • Lugosi v. Universal Pictures, 25 Cal.3d 813 (1979)

  • Statutes/Codes

    • 42 U.S.C. §1942

    • CA Penal Code §187

Common case abbreviations

Common Case Abbreviations

  • CA Cases

    • Cal. (Cal. 2d , 3d, 4th): California Reports

    • Cal. App. (C.A. 2d, 3d, 4th): California Appellate Reports

    • Cal. Rptr. (C.R. 2d): California Reporter

  • Federal Cases

    • U.S.: United States Supreme Court Reports

    • F. (F.2d, F.3d): Federal Reporter

    • F.Supp. (F.Supp.2d): Federal Supplement

Primary sources of law

Primary Sources of Law

  • Constitutions

  • Statutes/Codes

  • Judicial Opinions (case decisions)

  • Regulations & Regulatory Decisions

  • Local Ordinances (cities and counties)

    All of these work together to form The Law

California law

California Law

  • Constitution

  • Statutes/Codes

    • Pending legislation (bills)

  • Cases

  • Regulations

California bills on the net

California Bills on the ‘Net

  • 1993-94 legislative session to the present

  • Searchable by bill number, author, or keyword

  • Lots of information about the bills

    • Status and history

    • Committee analyses

    • Votes

    • Great for students!

Legislative process

Legislative Process

Bills = pending law

Statutes = permanent record

Codes = current version

California statutes and codes on the net

California Statutes and Codes on the ‘Net

  • Statutes are available from the 1993-94 Legislative session forward

    • Searchable by chapter number or keyword

    • No indication whether it’s current

  • Current California Code only

    • Updated nightly

    • NOT annotated (like West’s and Deering’s)

California ballot propositions on the net

California Ballot Propositions on the ‘Net

  • Passed propositions are incorporated into the California Codes

  • Failed propositions can be difficult to find

  • California Secretary of State Voter Information has propositions from 1996 to the present

  • Hastings College of the Law has a ballot proposition database from 1911 to the present

California cases

California Cases

  • Published Decisions

    • California Supreme Court cases

    • Most California Courts of Appeal cases

  • Unpublished Decisions

    • Trial Courts (Superior Court cases)

California cases on the net

California Cases on the ‘Net

  • California Judicial Council

    • Opinions from 1850 to Sept. 30, 2003 (searchable)

    • Slip opinions – October 1, 2003 to the present (not searchable)

  • Findlaw

    • Opinions 1934 to the present

    • Must register to view the cases

  • CourtTV

    • Sensational trial court cases

California agency materials

California Agency Materials

  • Licenses

  • Regulations

  • Regulatory Decisions

California agencies on the net

California Agencies on the ‘Net

  • California State web page contains a list of agencies

  • Materials available vary by agency

    • Forms

    • License requirements

California code of regulations on the net

California Code of Regulations on the ‘Net

  • Includes the regulations of all California agencies

  • Current version only

  • Title 24 (California Building Standards Code) is NOT available for free on the ‘Net

Municipal law on the net

Municipal Law on the ‘Net

  • City and county charters = structure of local governments

  • Municipal and county ordinances = local laws

    • Parking regulations

    • Leash laws

    • Rent control

Municipal codes on the net

Municipal Codes on the ‘Net

  • Check with the city or county web site first

  • Institute of Governmental Studies at U.C. Berkeley

  • Seattle Public Library government info for non-California cities and counties

Federal law on the net

Federal Law on the ‘Net

  • U.S. Constitution

  • U.S. Code

    • Pending legislation

  • Cases

  • Regulations

Federal legislation on the net

Federal Legislation on the ‘Net

  • Bills – Think Thomas

    • Full-text available from 1989-90 (101st Congress forward)

    • Summaries available from 1973-74 (93rd Congress forward)

  • United States Code

    • Not current! Beware! Danger!

Federal cases on the net

Federal Cases on the ‘Net

  • No comprehensive web site

  • U.S. Supreme Court

    • Official Supreme Court web site: 1990 forward

    • Cornell’s LII: 1990 forward

  • Courts of Appeals

    • 9th Circuit web site: 1995 forward

  • District Courts (trial courts)

Federal agency materials

Federal Agency Materials

  • Agency web sites

    • Some are filled with good information including forms

    • Some are not

  • Code of Federal Regulations (CFR)

Finding a lawyer

Finding a Lawyer

Directories and Regulation

Attorney information on the net

Attorney Information on the ‘Net

  • Find an Attorney by Specialty

    • Martindale Hubbell Law Directory

    • California State Bar Certified Specialists

  • Check Out the Credentials of a Lawyer

    • California State Bar Attorney Search

Legal forms

Legal Forms

  • Litigation Forms

  • Business Forms

Litigation forms on the net

Litigation Forms on the ‘Net

  • California Judicial Council

    • Mandatory forms

    • Suggested forms

  • Local Courts

    • Check the court web site

  • Findlaw

    • Links to forms of varying quality

Business forms on the net

Business Forms on the ‘Net


  • Primarily fee-based but some are free





Where to start when you don t know where to start

Where to Start When You Don’t Know Where to Start

  • California Courts Self-Help Center

    • Lots of information on common legal issues

    • Where to go for free and low-cost legal information

  • 24/7 Reference includes law librarians

  • Your local county law library

  • Locating the Law, 4th ed.

Mega sites


  • Hieros Gamos: If you can only have one

  • Jurist

  • Internet Legal Resource Guide

  • Catalaw

  • Findlaw

  • Login