Legal Research Tips

Presented on Wednesday October 5th 2005
by Dana Neacşu

For Human Rights Research-Frequently Asked Questions
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Table of Contents


  1. Catalogs, Indexes and other Databases
  2. Browsing Our Library Shelves
  3. General Sources in the Law Library
  4. Subject Specific Sources in the Law Library
  5. Helpful Web Sites
  6. Helpful Research Guides

  7.  1. Catalogs, Indexes and other Databases

    Use the Diamond Law Library’s catalog, PEGASUS. Also use the University Libraries’ catalog, CLIO, to find resources at other libraries, including the Business Library, and use WorldCat to find books beyond the Columbia system.

    To find law journal articles, use Wilson’s Index to Legal Periodicals and the Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals.  You may access those indexes from the Diamond Law Library’s Electronic Resources Web Page. Both are also available on Westlaw!

    To find BNA products, such as U.S. Law Week and Supreme Court Today, go to the Diamond Law Library’s Electronic Resources Web Page.

    To find non-law indexes and resources, also go to the Business and Economics Databases Page and then go to their many internet resources.

    To find journal articles in non-legal fields, use JSTOR, Project Muse, ProQuest Direct, or any of the other databases listed on the University Libraries’ Web Page under Databases.


    2. Browsing Our library shelves

    Domestic law sources are classified using the Library of Congress classification system (LC). Here are some of the LC call numbers you may want to use: KF 3775-3816 for environmental law; KF 501-553 for family law; KF 4800-4846 for immigration law; or KF 3301-3409 for labor law.

    You can also search
    Pegasus by call number.
    3. General Sources in the Law Library

    At the south end of the fourth floor, there are copies of the most heavily used U.S. state and federal primary and secondary legal materials, including the United States Code (U.S.C.), United States Code Annotated (U.S.C.A), United States Code Service (U.S.C.S.), United States Statutes at Large (Stat.), United States Code Congressional and Administrative News (U.S.C.C.A.N.), Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.), the regional federal reporters and digests, national legal encyclopedias, the American Law Reports (ALR), general form books, and Shepard's citators.

    State statutory and administrative codes can be found in the Reserve Reading Room on the third floor, official state reports in the cellar and, according to date, in microfilm – on the second floor; the New York official case reporters, as well as another copy of McKinney's Consolidated Laws of New York Annotated, in the New York Collection in the northwest corner of the fourth floor.


    4. Specific Sources in the Law Library

      Conflict of Laws. Jurisdiction
    Born, Gary. International Civil Litigation in United States Courts: Commentary & Materials (3rd ed) 3rd Fl Reserve:  KF8940.P75 B67 1996.  This one-volume treatise covers in its third part “Legislative Jurisdiction and Choice of Law,” which encompasses issues about international law limits on legislative jurisdiction in U.S. courts.

    Nanda, Ved P. Litigation of International Disputes in U.S. Courts (2003) 2nd Floor: JX6601 N154 2003. Formerly published in loose-leaf format, this two-volume source covers, inter alia, application of foreign law in U.S. courts (Ch. 9), and recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments in U.S. courts (Ch. 11).

    Domestic Protection of Human Rights

    Jayawickrama, Nihal. The Judicial Application of Human Rights Law: National, Regional, and International Jurisprudence. (Cambridge University Press, 2002) 2nd Floor: JX4263.P3 J334 2002.  In its main part, this secondary source covers 27 substantive rights -- such as the right to a fair trial, the right to health, and the right to education -- and their enforcement within various national, regional, and international jurisdictions.

    Environmental Law

    Environmental Law Reporter. (Environmental Law Institute) (1971-) 4th Floor:  KF3775.A6 E5.  This multi-volume loose-leaf is a good source for statutory, administrative and case law materials, as well as news analysis, and briefs and pleadings on environmental issues. It also contains a detailed subject matter index. However, if you want to make sure that your search is comprehensive and up-to-date you should use its online version.

    Environment Reporter.  (BNA, 1970-) 4th Floor:  KF3775.A6 E49.  This reporter is a comprehensive source of environmental cases decided by state and federal courts, as well as administrative agencies. Starting with vol. 26, no. 43 (1996) it is available only online.
    Robinson, Nicholas A. Environmental Law Lexicon. (1992-) 4th Floor:  KF3775.A68 R67 1993.  This one-volume loose-leaf is an excellent starting point for practitioners less familiar with environmental law terms.

    Immigration Law

    Immigration Law and Procedure (1988-). 3rd Floor Reserve: KF4819 .G6 1988 (Matthew Bender).  In its 19 volumes, this loose-leaf covers, inter alia,  an overview of immigration law, procedure (vol.1-8), immigration forms (vol. 9), United Nations documents and other international treaties (vol. 10), as well as INS-related documents (vol. 13-16). Its 20thvolume contains a detailed index.

    Interpreter Releases, (West Group, 1948-) 4th Floor: KF4802 .I57.  This periodical contains court opinions, administrative and legislative developments as well as legal articles on immigration matters. It analyzes up-to-the minute information on all significant immigration and nationality law matters. The library has almost the entire collection from 1948 onward. Westlaw coverage starts in 1987.

    Labor Law

    Labor Relations Reporter (BNA, 1938-) 4th Floor: KF3365 .L32.  Considered to be one of the best compilations of U.S. labor law materials, this multi-volume set covers news and background information (binder no.1); decisions from courts and labor boards (binder no.2); labor arbitration (binder no.3); state statutes (binders nos. 4 & 4A); wage-hours cases and materials (binders nos. 5 through 6A); fair employment practice cases (binders nos. 7 through 9A); and Americans with disability act issues (binder no. 10).

    Employment Law Deskbook (Matthew Bender, 1989-) 4th Floor: KF3455 .E47 1989.  This reference tool aims to help practitioners decipher the new trends in labor law by giving them quick access to employment decisions, statutes, forms, and annotations.



    5. Helpful Web Sites

     · The Library of Congress, Thomas. Legislative Information on the Internet


    · U.S. Government Printing Office


    · US Environmental Protection Agency


    · Internet Law Library. Environmental, Natural Resource and Energy Law


    · US Department of Labor


    · Cornell's Legal Information Institute -- Labor


    ·  US Department of Justice Executive Office for Immigration Review


    · Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services


    · Immigration Equality

    ·  The National Organization for Women (NOW)


     · Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc.



    6. Helpful Research Guides