Have a research project? Go back to law school, or at least to a law school library near you – and none is more than a few mouse-clicks away.
Many law libraries—academic, firm, and government—produce in-house materials that assist their patrons in researching legal issues. Illinois has nine public and private law schools that, for the most part, make many of these materials available over the Internet.
So, while the primary audience for many of these materials might be the school’s students and faculty, these resources are often very helpful for other patrons as well, be they alumni, non-alumni practitioners, or pro se individuals.
And so, proceeding alphabetically…
At my own institution, Chicago-Kent College of Law, the Downtown Campus Library (which also serves the graduate Stuart School of Business) has created a series of library guides on a variety of subjects, ranging from how to find a statute, regulation, case, or article to doing foreign and international legal research.
Some handouts distributed to upper-level research and writing classes are also available, as well as tutorials that serve both the law school and the business school. The Library Guides index page is available at <.
DePaul University College of Law’s Rinn Law Library has a series of 101 research guides that includes both legal topics (e.g., tax) and legal materials (e.g., citators). These PDF guides range in size from two pages to nine.
The guides are available at <>. In addition, the library’s “Internet Resource Project” includes lists of online resources for federal, state, county (Cook), and city (Chicago), as well constitutional law. It’s available at < >.
The John Marshall Law School’s Louis L. Biro Law Library has a collection of research guides; however, they are only available in print within the library, and are not currently available online. The library has, however, compiled a list of research links for online research, covering federal and state resources, as well as an excellent collection of online resources arranged by topic of law. The research links are available at < >.
Loyola University Chicago School of Law’s library has also created a very nice collection of online research links, covering some topics not available elsewhere, such as resources for Latin American legal research and resources for paralegals. The research links are available at < >. Additionally, a library FAQ includes answers on how to perform s pecific research tasks. The FAQ is at < >.
The Northern Illinois University College of Law’s David C. Shapiro Memorial Law Library includes an online research center, which generally includes subscription-only databases. However, the page also contains links, via a sidebar on the right-hand side, that provides access to general legal Web sites, as well as those for federal, Illinois, and international law. The online research center page is at < >.
Northwestern Law School’s Pritzker Legal Research Center has an integrated online research environment that includes both free and subscription resources. It includes 13 research guides setting forth how to research a particular topic, including nonlegal topics such as news sources, historical sources, and law and economics. The “conduct research” page is at < >. Most helpful for the non-Northwestern community are the “selected topics” menu and the “getting started with…” research topics.
The Southern Illinois University School of Law library’s Web site includes a wide range of research and how-to guides. These include guides on how to use the library, how to perform specific types of research tasks, and even how to use certain components of Lexis Nexis and Westlaw (such as Shepard’s and KeyCite).
The guides are at <>. See the sidebar to the left of the page that also includes links to other online legal resources, arranged topically.
The University of Chicago Law School’s D’Angelo Law Library has one of the more extensive lists of research guides, arranged by type of user, by jurisdiction (e.g. California Legal Research), and by topic (both U.S. law and foreign and international law). Topics range from the expected (e.g., environmental law) to the more esoteric (e.g., civil rights law and the low wage worker). The research guides are at <http://guides.lib.uchicago.edu/dangelo>.
Last, but not least (especially since it is my alma mater), the University of Illinois College of Law’s library also has created a series of reference guides on numerous topics. Again, like many libraries, there are guides on how to use the library and where to find major titles.
There are tutorials on how to use certain materials, including The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation, citators, and finding non-legal articles. Finally, there are guides on researching different topics of law, as well as Internet research links. The reference guides are at <http://uiuc.libguides.com/legalreference>.
So, don’t forget your libraries (and librarians)! You might be surprised to learn that someone has already done the initial legwork to get you on the right path for your next research task. ■