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Legal Research Intro: Source Types

Primary Sources

Primary sources are the law itself.  They are created by Federal and State branches of government.

Statutory Law:   Statutes, codes, constitutions, rules of court.  Generally, laws passed by Congress.

Case Law:   Decisions of courts and administrative bodies (e.g., Federal Court of Appeals, Supreme Court of the State of New York)

Administrative Law:   Rules and regulations promulgated by government agencies (e.g., EPA, OSHA, NJ Department of Education)

Secondary Resources

Secondary resources are a good starting point for legal research.

They give background information and a general discussion of legal topics, and include seminal cases on the topic.

Secondary resources include, among others: law review articles and legal encyclopedias.

A law review article analyzes a legal issue and references statutes and cases, often with links to the full text.