an imageAmerican legal resources are valuable sources of information that can help you determine if you should pursue legal action, assist in better understanding discussions with your attorney or file a case pro se. Legal resources are divided into two types; primary sources which include court cases and laws and secondary sources such as legal encyclopedias, books and articles. The legal system is comprised of federal law, state law and administrative law, operating by the authority of the United States Constitution and state constitutions. The laws for each of these legal systems are derived from state and federal statutes, judicial cases and adjudications. To effectively use legal resources, you need to know if the law is state or federal and what type of law is applicable. Once you understand the type of law you’re searching for, there are several outstanding legal resources available.

The SIU Law Library website provides a listing of legal search engines, article directories and links to federal, state and local government information sites. You will also find links to legal forms and law dictionaries. The extensive list of legal search engines includes sites such as American Law Sources On-line, Cornell's Legal Information Institute, FindLaw and Article directories include, ResourceShelf and the Virtual Chase.

The listing of federal law search engines provides links to resources that only search government websites. Information is available for executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government. In addition, you can search Congressional Research Service Reports, United States Supreme Court Documents and historical documents. The SIU Law Library website also allows you to search by topic. The site lists relevant links by specialty including bankruptcy law, health law and policy, tax law and employment and labor law. Beneath the subheading “Legal Research and Writing”, numerous legal dictionaries are listed as well as law journals and reviews.

The Archives Library Information Center (ALIC) lists links to resources concerning federal law, intellectual property law, treaties and regulations. There is also a comprehensive list of legal dictionaries, law reviews and journals. ALIC offers many sites to assist those performing research. Fedlaw offers valuable resources for research on federal laws. A link to “Court Rules, Forms, and Dockets” provides more than 1400 sources for court rules, forms, and dockets. You’ll find audio and video resources as well.

Numerous links to federal court resources are available through ALIC. Oyez archives all audio recorded in the United States Supreme Court since 1955. You’ll find a wealth of informative sites on copyright, patent and trademark law. There are links available that provide information concerning treaties and other international agreements to which United States has agreed. Links to the Government Printing Office's FDsys and Cornell Law School provide access to the Code of Federal Regulations.

The Lederman Law Library website not only provides a through explanation of the United States legal structure but lists numerous tools and resources for locating additional information. This can be quite useful when trying to determine where to search for a specific law. The site outlines the United States Federal Court system, provides a narrative of the responsibilities assigned to each and references links to government websites for further information. This includes the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, district courts, appeals courts and individual state trial courts. It also provides lists of states that comprise each of the 13 circuits.

The Lederman Law Library website references several secondary sources of legal information how to search for specific information. American Law Reports provides annotations from state and federal cases. They also provide a description of the information contained within the two leading American legal encyclopedias, Corpus Juris Secundum and American Jurisprudence.

The Law Library of Congress contains more than 2.65 million volumes of primary and secondary legal sources. It is the largest legal collection in the world. The collection spans legal eras from ancient to contemporary as well as all legal structures including religious, civil, common and socialist. The library is a repository for U.S. law records, and more information is continuously being added. It houses congressional bills, federal and state government documents and U.S. Supreme Court and Courts of Appeal records.

The Law Library of Congress website offers numerous databases and websites. You’ll find links to indexes of legal periodicals, legislative and statutory resources and constitution treaty information. The Guide to Online Law is a portal to information on federal, state and international government and law. Most sites include full texts of laws, regulations, and court decisions. A librarian is available by phone or e-mail to assist with research.

Other resources

Legal Online Gambling in the USA : this website provides information about legal online gambling in the USA.