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Locating the Law: A Handbook for Non-Law Librarians

February 08, 2012

Reviewed by Tim Von Dulm, Head of Reference Services

Are you new to the law and confused about how to read legal citations and approach legal research problems? Maybe you would like to learn about how to conduct federal legislative histories?  Perhaps you are looking for credible and authoritative recommendations for legal self-help resources?  Or maybe you are already familiar with the basics of legal research but would appreciate ready access to a reliable legal research reference resource to serve as a refresher for any questions you might have.

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If any of these situations apply to you, then consider yourself in luck.  The Public Access to Legal Information Committee of the Southern California Association of Law Libraries (SCALL) recently published a revised version of their wonderful legal reference resource Locating the Law: A Handbook for Non-Law Librarians, 5th ed. (“Handbook”).

The Handbook includes twelve chapters and four appendices directly relevant to the most common issues faced by legal researchers.  Although a significant portion of the text is understandably devoted to California legal resources and agencies,  chapters within the Handbook on “Basic Legal Research Techniques,” “How to Read a Legal Citation,” “Federal Law” and bibliographies and appendices on “Self-Help Resources” and “Common Abbreviations in the Law” contain relevant advice and information to researchers across jurisdictions.   Conveniently, most of the chapters and appendices facilitate the research process by including direct hyperlinks to many of the resources and agencies discussed therein. 

So what’s stopping you?  Get crackin’ on the legal research.  And if you still come across some thorny research problem that the SCALL Handbook cannot assist you with, don’t hesitate to stop by and talk with one of the knowledgeable and friendly Biddle reference librarians, who are familiar with numerous alternative resources and who are happy to assist with your research.