Introduction to U.S. Law and Legal Research

Document Type



There are many introductory law books. Most of them are quite interesting, although often limited in their point of view. They focus on reviewing the abstract world of the law (introduction to jurisprudence or theory of law), on a specific aspect of the law based on specific sources of law (what case law is and how it should be read) or on how you can find the law, by analyzing statutes, case decisions, etc. Each relies on complimentary introductory books that will explain the part of the law that they had left untouched. None has this book's organic approach to law: they rely on and encourage an incremental approach to studying law. Unlike them, this book starts from a different holistic premise, and it wants to give its readers a critical approach to U.S. law and consequently, to U.S. legal research. Chapters 1 and 2 explain the double meaning of law. It is an abstract atemporal human construct, known as the rule of law, but it is also a body of concrete legal norms, because the rule of law comes to fruition through published manifestations: statutory norms, decisional law, and administrative rules, regulations or decisions. Chapter 3 briefly points out the basic techniques of legal research. It emphasizes the distinctions between primary sources- repositories-of law, and secondary sources. It also explains the reasons and the ways of using each one. It hopefully brings law closer to the reader because it outlines the various print and online repositories of law and the ways to access them. Because it is this book's intention to ensure the reader's unlimited access to the various forms of law, I pay distinct attention to the free-of-charge online law repositories. Chapter 4, 5 and 6 bring to fruition this ambitious project of popularizing the law without debasing it intellectually and punctuate how legal rules can be identified within those repositories. Chapters 4 through 6 examine the legislative, executive, and administrative bodies, and the legal norms each produce. Then, they scrutinize techniques of legal research, according to each source. Most importantly, you will learn to what degree you can digitally perform reliable legal research free-of-charge.