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Law Library News for February 5, 2001

Ann Hemmens, editor

Law Library News Archive


Searching for Statutes in the United States Code Annotated

by Lisa Wagenheim, Library Intern

Every time that I have to find a federal statute, I spend considerable time trying to remember how to use the sources that contain the statutes. I know that there are several sources that contain the Code as well as several ways to look for each statute. The three main sets that contain the codified federal statutes are:

  1. the United States Code (published by the United States government)
  2. United States Code Annotated (published by West) and
  3. United States Code Service (published by Lexis)

In this article, I am going to focus on searching for a specific statute in the United State Code Annotated (USCA).

I am going to illustrate two quick ways to search for a federal statute in the USCA. However, if you need further research tips for the USCA, go to the Reference Office and take a look at The Lawyer's Guide to United States Code Annotated: USCA, the Choice for Success (KF63.L38 1987). This booklet is a relatively short resource that provides quick tips for using the USCA.

Tip #1: The Popular Name Table

Imagine that you are sitting in Employment Law and your professor keeps talking about the Americans with Disabilities Act. Your interest is peaked and you want to read the codified law. Where do you look?

In the USCA, the Popular Name Table alphabetically lists statutes by, go figure, their popular name. The Popular Name Table is located in the last General Index volume of the USCA. First, scan the list to find the statute that you are looking for, in this case you would look for the Americans with Disabilities Act. The first line of information includes the public law number of the act, the date the act was passed, the Statutes at Large citation, and finally in parentheses the titles and sections of the Code where the statute is located. Citations for any amendments to the original statute will appear below. Once you have the titles and sections, you can proceed to any of the federal Code sets mentioned above.

Tip #2: Tables

Now imagine that you just finished reading a law review article that cited Public Law 101-336 several times, but for some reason the author never mentioned the name of the statute. How do you find the section of the Code pertaining to that Public Law number?

The USCA Tables will help you convert public law numbers into Code title and section numbers. The USCA Tables are shelved at the end of the set. Currently there are two volumes containing tables to the USCA, so make sure that you are looking at the correct volume. In Table 2, the public law numbers are arranged in chronological order in the left margins. Once you find the public law number, you can find the Statutes at Large citation and Code titles and sections by scanning to the right across the same line.

Good Luck!

Online Study Aids

A prior article examined print study aids available in the Law Library to help with class preparation and in studying for exams. This article describes selected free online resources for locating course outlines, law school exams, and general study tips. The material included in these websites has been created by students, faculty or commercial publishers - remember to evaluate the reliability and accuracy of any information you find on the Internet (just as you would with a print source). Any questions? Stop by the Reference Office in the Library.

  • Findlaw: Law Schools - Outlines & Exams,, provides links to law school exams online and law school course outlines (created by students and commercial publishers).
  •  Law Student Resources - Outlines,, contains a list of links to law course outlines created by law students (some of these may be several years old).
  • LEXIS,  under the heading Emanuel Outlines you will find links to free Capsule Summaries of Emanuel Law Outlines (brief summaries of legal principles and issues in particular areas of law such as civil procedure, contracts, or corporations) and under the heading Exam Taking you will find test taking tips (preparation, writing answers and common mistakes to avoid).
  • Law Student Outlines & Tests,, provides links to review materials, outlines and exams.
  • UW Law School Exams is a  collection of University of Washington law exams, organized by faculty name.
  • Washlaw WEB Outlines, Study Aids, Research Guides, and Exams,, provides links to law course outlines (listing the law school) and law school exams.
  • Westlaw,, click on the Student Life link, then under the heading Study Aids and Outlines you will find links to articles about preparing for and writing law exams, free Capsule Summaries from the Black Letter Series (a brief review of the basic principles and issues of specific areas of law such as civil procedure, contracts, or corporations), Professor Garland's Overview of Relevance and Hearsay and information on purchasing products such as the Sum & Substance Quick Review outlines (sample chapters are available free at the website).