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Law & Legal Studies: How to Find a Law


Law(s) Law can describe a systematic set of rules to regulate a government, organization, or other kind of group. Laws often refer to the individual components of that system. More formally laws are called statutes.
Statutes/Acts Laws passed by Congress, state legislatures, or local governing bodies. Also called statutory law. Each statute will have a unique  number
Code Collection of statutes arranged by subject/broad category with subtopics or "codified." These subjects are called Titles. 

When to Refer to the U.S. Code Versus the Underlying Statute

For more explanation see

Finding Laws

Laws may be cited or identified by public law number (P/L/ 106-279), U.S. Code title and section(s) (42 USB 2006d or 42 USCA 2006d), or U.S. Statutes at Large volume and page (88 STAT. 1866).

Legal Encyclopedias

To find legal information on particular subject areas it is ALMOST ALWAYS best to start with a legal encyclopedia.  Encyclopedias summarize what courts and laws have said and list specific court cases and status in footnotes.

National:   American Jurisprudence 2d (AmJur 2d).  Call no.: GOV LAW  KF 154 .A42 (Also in Nexis Uni)

Ohio:        Ohio Jurisprudence 3d (OJur 3d).  Call no.: GOV LAW  KFO 65 .O35 1977 (Also in Nexis Uni)


Start with the general index at the end of the encyclopedia.  Look up your subject (experiment with different terms).  The index gives you a subject chapter name and a section number.  To find out what the abbreviations used in the main index mean, look in the table of abbreviations in the front of any index volume.  Look up the chapter name alphabetically in the main volumes of the encyclopedia.

Each chapter is divided into numbered sections.  There is a detailed outline at the beginning of each chapter and a chapter index at the end of the volume for further help in finding what you want.  ALWAYS LOOK IN THE POCKET SUPPLEMENTS to each volume for that latest material.

Find U.S. or State Laws by Subject (Using codes)

Both the U.S. Code and Ohio Revised Code below contain current law with amendments incorporated.