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United States Legal Research for L.L.M. Students

Overview of basic United States legal research. Originally written primarily for foreign law students, who are familiar with legal concepts but unfamiliar with U.S. legal materials, but useful also for the novice practitioner.


Each United States jurisdiction (United States, each state) has a constitutionsession laws and a code.

Session laws are the laws of a jurisdiction collected in chronological order.  Individual U.S. laws are called Public Laws (e.g. Public Law 111-002) and individual Illinois laws are called Public Acts (e.g. Public Act 96-0073).  The session laws of other states have different titles. Consult The Bluebook for more information.

A code is a subject organization of all the laws currently in force in a jurisdiction. The code of the United States is called the United States Code.  The code of Illinois is called the Illinois Compiled Statutes.

This section on Statutory Research has 3 subtabs: Constitutions, Federal Statutory Law and State Statutory Law: Illinois.

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