Legal Research for Non-Law-School Students
Prepared by James Duggan, SIU Law Library — Updated January 2006
This guide is designed to help non-law-school students use resources available at the Southern Illinois University School of Law Library to locate legal information in support of research assignments. Please consult a reference librarian (Reference Desk telephone 453-8708) if you have questions about using a particular legal material.
Southern Illinois University School of Law Library
Lesar Law Building, First Floor
1150 Douglas Drive
Carbondale, IL 62901
Library website URL: http://www.law.siu.edu/lawlib/
(Parking available in metered lot southwest of the Lesar Law Building entrance)
Regular Semester (Fall & Spring) Hours:
Monday–Thursday, 8:00 am–9:00 pm; Friday, 8:00 am–6:00 pm
Saturday, 9:00–5:00 pm; Sunday, 1:00 pm–9:00pm
Holidays, Summer & Semester Break Hours may vary; check website at
http://www.law.siu.edu/lawlib/info/hours.htm for updated listing,
or call the circulation desk at (618) 453-8796.
Legal Research Guides
- Robert C. Berring, Legal Research for the 21st Century (Reserve Video 0272).
Five videotapes, 346 minutes.
- tape 1. The basics;
- tape 2. Case finding and the future of cases;
- tape 3. Citators and secondary source research;
- tape 4. Statutes, legislative history and administrative materials;
- tape 5. Legal research on the Internet and research strategies.
- Robert C. Berring, Legal Research Made Easy: A Roadmap Through the Law Library Maze (Reserve Video 0078).
One videocassette, 145 minutes, plus manual.
This video is aimed at non-lawyers.
- Also see listing of legal research guides at LexNotes Pathfinders,
To find books on legal topics
Use the SIU Law Library catalog: (available via the Internet at http://184.108.40.206). Search by author, title, subject, keyword, etc.
For more information, see Finding Books and Videos in the Law Library.
To find legal periodical articles by topic
To find United States Statutes
To find Illinois Statutes
To find federal cases by topic
- Use West's Federal Practice Digest 4th, KF127 .A54 (begin with Descriptive Word Index);
- SIU students outside the Law School can search by keyword via LexisNexis Academic, available to SIU campus users from Morris Library's web page at http://www.lib.siu.edu/resources/resources/articles/.
To find Illinois cases by topic
- Use West's Illinois Digest 2d, KFI1257 .I4 1982 (begin with Descriptive Word Index);
- SIU students outside the Law School can search by keyword via LexisNexis Academic, available to SIU campus users from Morris Library's web page at http://www.lib.siu.edu/resources/resources/articles/).
To find general legal information, including citations to statutes and cases
- Use a legal encyclopedia, American Jurisprudence (Am Jur) 2d, KF154 .A48.2, or Corpus Juris Secundum (CJS), KF154 .C62.
To find general Illinois legal information, including citations to statutes and cases
- Use an Illinois legal encyclopedia, Illinois Jurisprudence, KFI 1265 .I38 1992, or Illinois Law and Practice, KFI 1265 .I42x.
To find the meaning of legal words
To understand the meaning of legal citations and abbreviations
- The Bluebook : a Uniform System of Citation, KF246 .U56 2000;
- ALWD Citation Manual : a Professional System of Citation, KF245 .A45 2000.
PDF version of this research guide.