Legal Studies

Introduction

Primary sources in legal studies are the law.  There are three sources of law: laws from the legislative branch (statutes), laws from the executive branch (regulations), and laws from the judicial branch (cases).  These types of laws exist at both the Federal level and the state level.  Below are some resources to help locate primary law.  Using secondary sources (see the secondary sources tab page of this research guide) can be a good way to find citations to primary law on a given topic.

Federal Statutes

Federal Regulations

The Executive Branch makes regulations through administrative agencies, also called executive agencies.  For a list of US Government Departments and Agencies, visit USA.gov.  Administrative agencies typically create regulations through a notice and comment process.  The final regulations are published in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).  Proposed regulations, as well as notices, rules, and presidential documents, are published in a daily publication called the Federal Register.  Regulations are also usually available on administrative agency websites.  For example, the Environmental Protection Agency publishes their regulations online, as well as the Department of Education and the Securities and Exchange Commission.  For some introductory information regarding the rulemaking/regulation process, visit regulations.gov page titled "Learn About the Regulatory Process."

Federal Cases

The judicial branch of the federal government makes laws through cases.  The federal judicial branch has 3 levels of courts: the district court, the circuit court of appeals, and the US Supreme Court.  For more information regarding the judicial system, visit the Federal Court's website USCourts.gov.

State Law Resources

For resources regarding Florida, please see the Florida Resources page on this research guide.

Local and Municipal Law Resources