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Law and Legislation: Home

How to use this guide

This guide is intended to be a starting point for academic research into legal issues. Tabs at the top of the page will help direct you to resources to help with research at the federal or state level.

  • Background Research: explanations of different kinds of secondary sources used for legal research and links to databases commonly used for finding secondary sources
  • Federal Law: assistance with finding statutes, case law, or regulations produced at the federal level
  • Pennsylvania Law: assistance with finding statutes, case law, or regulations produced at the state level
  • Citations & Help: link to the Bluebook for legal citations

Legal research process

The law encompasses many different types of material, and thorough legal research should identify sources of primary and secondary authority.

  • Primary authority: the law itself, including statutes, cases, and regulations
  • Secondary authority: other writings about the law that provide some level of summary, analysis, or commentary

It also helps to identify the jurisdiction for your issue so you will better understand which sources will be binding authority and which will be persuasive.

  • Binding authority: must be followed within a particular jurisdiction
  • Persuasive authority: not binding, but can still be used to inform a decision

The Rombauer Method

This research method provides a long-term strategy for exploring the legal aspects of a particular issue or topic.

  1. Preliminary analysis of secondary sources
  2. Search for statutes and regulations
  3. Search for binding case law
  4. Search for persuasive case law
  5. Review, revise, and revisit

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