LIBR 220-11
Resources and Information Services
Focus: Legal Resources
Spring 2003

Marc Lampson

Course Links

Course Outline





Students need to self-enroll on Blackboard beginning on January 21 and no later than January 23.

Course Description:

This course will show the student how to find legal materials on the federal and state level.  Print and online resources - on the "free" Web and pay-for-view databases such as Lexis - will be taught and used. Consequently, you can anticipate both visiting and using a brick and mortar law library (or a library with an extensive legal collection) and learning about and using computer-assisted legal research.  You will learn how to find enacted law, case law, administrative law, and "secondary authority" such as treatises and legal encyclopedias. 

This course is intended for students with no or little prior legal background, although it may serve as a refresher for paralegals or others with some former legal training. 

Course Objectives:

Being able to retrieve legal information can be an empowering and demystifying experience for the information specialist and for the general public. The overarching objective of this course is to provide the student with this ability to demystify "the law" and to empower those who retrieve, use, and understand the law. The student at the end of the course should be confident in retrieving legal information either for questions the student might have or for questions that might be presented to an information specialist. Consequently, upon completing the course the student should 

    1. Be able to identify, locate, and use the most often needed legal resources, in print and online, and understand how they can be best used by information specialists and their clients; 
    2. Be able to locate enacted law (including Constitutional Law), case law, administrative rules and regulations,  and commentary (commonly called "secondary authority") about that law on both the federal and state levels and in both print and online formats; 
    3. Comprehend basic legal terms and concepts, and be able to interpret legal citation;
    4. Find primary and secondary legal authority using online pay-for-view databases such as Lexis and other electronic legal resources; and
    5. Find that the "law" is concrete, findable, understandable, and thus less of a mystery for the information specialist and the people that specialist may serve.

The course is intended to fulfill the following objectives from SJSU's School of Library and Information Science's goals: 

  1. To prepare students to function effectively in libraries, information centers, schools, and other relevant institutions;
  2. To prepare students to contribute to the work of library and information professions; and
  3. To teach students the major theories, important principles and current practices:

    - in the specialized aspects of information management and retrieval specific to law; and

    - advocacy and leadership for citizen access to information and knowledge resources.

Required Text:

Stephen Elias & Susan Levinkind, Legal Research: How to Find & Understand the Law (10th ed. 2002) Nolo Press

Supplemental Reading (do NOT buy these unless you become obsessed):

Robert C. Bering & Elizabeth A. Edinger, Finding the Law, (11th ed.1999 or later) West Group

Course Requirements:

Course requirements will be specified at the beginning of the class on the course website on January 22, 2003.  The student can anticipate that there will be three "quizzes," six to ten "finding" assignments - several of which will require visiting a brick and mortar library - and an individualized final project involving finding legal information that is of specific interest to the student.


Contact Information:

Marc Lampson,  M.L.I.S. (specialization in law librarianship), J.D.
The Information School
University of Washington
(206) 691-9959



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It was last updated on January 10, 2003