Legal research is the process of finding, understanding and applying the law to a given situation. If you are here looking for help with a legal research problem, then presumably you are faced with a problem and are trying to figure out what legal rules apply. As a starting point, it may be helpful to look at the Outline of the U.S. Legal System from the U.S. Department of State.
The focus of Lincoln Lawgs is to provide guidance with Illinois legal research questions. If you are faced with a federal legal research question, you can learn about sources of federal law at GlobaLex: A Guide to the U. S. Federal Legal System Web-based Public Accessible Sources or at the Cornell Legal Information Institute: Federal Law Collection.
This research guide is divided by the different sources of Illinois law, so it will also be helpful to understand the different sources available. Legal resources are generally divided into two categories, primary authority and secondary authority. Primary authority is the term used to describe the actual rules of law. Statutes, case law and administrative regulations are all examples of primary authority because they are “the law.” Secondary authority on the other hand refers to sources that are “about the law” but are not “the law” itself. Examples of secondary authority include law review articles, encyclopedias or treatises. Secondary authority is extremely useful in when conducting legal research to help you gain an understanding of an area of law and to point you toward the relevant primary authority.
Because we understand that when you are faced with a legal research question you may not know where to begin, we have created a number of Research Scenarios based on situations that frequently arise in the practice of law. If you have a suggestion for a Research Scenario or if you have a legal research question, just Ask Abe!
How to find an Illinois statute by popular name: