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Legal Research Modules: Lesson Three- Finding Statutes

Modules and lessons for excellence in legal research and research strategies.

Preparing to Practice

Use the Popular Name Table on Westlaw to find where the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is codified.

Use the index to the United States Code Service on Lexis to identify the federal statute establishing penalties for the use of firearms in furtherance of drug-related crimes.

Introduction

You may be tempted to start your statutory research with keyword searches in the U.S. Code. However, there are several other methods for finding statutes that are often better as starting points. After watching this video, take the quiz. If you want extra practice on this topic, check out the "preparing to practice" column in the lower left corner. This is a place to practice what you've learned in the videos before moving on to the next lesson.

5 Ways to Find Statutes

 

00:00​ Method 1: Use a Popular Name Table

01:26​ Method 2: Use a Citation

01:37​ Method 3: Use a Secondary Source

02:00​ Method 4: Use a Subject Index

03:16​ Method 5: Use a Case

Finding Statutes Chart

If you know the name of a statute...
  • Use a popular name table.
  • Use Wikipedia to identify the statutory citation.
If you know the citation to a statute...
  • Enter the citation in the search bar on Westlaw or Lexis.
If you don't have the name or citation to a statute...
  • Find a secondary source on the topic.
  • Use the subject index to the US Code on Westlaw or Lexis.
  • Find an on-point case and refer to statutes cited by the court.
  • Run Boolean searches in the USCA or USCS.

 

Quiz

Next Lesson

Congratulations! You've completed Lesson 3. Click here to move on to Lesson 4- Statutory Annotations. Want more practice? Try the questions in the "Preparing to Practice" section in the bottom left column.