Legal Discourse

Updated Oct. 24, 2007.
Prepared by Mary Whisner, Assistant Librarian for Reference Services, for ENGL 569, Topics in Language and Rhetoric (Legal Discourse Analysis), Prof. Gail Stygall.

Note: Hein Online, LexisNexis Academic, and LexisNexis Congressional are UW Restricted databases.


Documents Created

Where to Find Them

Trial judges Decisions (sometimes) State: very seldom published. Contact court clerk.

Federal: sometimes published (Federal Supplement). See Case Law and Reporters & Digests.

Online: LexisNexis Academic.

Juries Verdict Not published.

Online: Court TV.

Witnesses Testimony Not published. Call the court clerk to see whether a transcript was produced.

Online: Court TV.

Appellate courts (state and federal) Decisions (a/k/a opinions, cases) Reporters (chronological). See Case Law and Reporters & Digests.

Online: LexisNexis Academic.

Lawyers handling appeals Briefs and oral arguments See Briefs & Oral Arguments.
Administrative agencies Regulations and administrative decisions Regulations are published in chronological order in registers (e.g., Federal Register) and arranged by subject or agency in codes (e.g., Code of Federal Regulations (CFR)).

Administrative decisions are often published in reporters or looseleaf services.

See U.S. Administrative Law Research and Washington Administrative Law Research.

Online: LexisNexis Academic (federal regulations only, not state).

President Signing statements Often published in United States Code Congressional & Administrative News (USCCAN) (KF48 at Reference Area).
President and Governor Executive orders, miscellaneous statements Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents. J80 at Reference Area

Presidents' executive orders compiled in Title 3 of the Code of Federal Regulations. KF70 at Reference Area

Washington Governor's executive orders published in the Washington State Register. KFW36 at Reference Area & Classified Stacks

Legislators Bills, reports on bills, floor debate, laws For bills, reports, and debates, see Federal Legislative History and Washington State Legislative History.

Online: ProQuest Congressional.

Enacted laws (statutes) are published in chronological order in session laws (e.g., United States Statutes at Large, Laws of Washington) and arranged by subject in codes (e.g., United States Code, Revised Code of Washington). Annotated codes (e.g., United States Code Annotated, United States Code Service, Revised Code of Washington Annotated) have the text of the statutes plus references to secondary sources and summaries of cases relating to the statutes.

See Statutes (PowerPoint) and Statutory Research Checklist.

Online: LexisNexis Academic.

Lawyers doing transactional work Wills, contracts, leases, opinion letters See Drafting Contracts: Formbooks and Drafting Resources.
Lawyers, law professors, judges, and law students doing scholarly work Law review articles

(Student articles are called "notes" and "comments.")

See Secondary Sources. See also Writing for and Publishing in Law Reviews (includes information about citation studies and other rankings).

Online: LexisNexis Academic and HeinOnline.

Lawyers and law professors summarizing general areas of the law Hornbooks, treatises, practice guides. See Secondary Sources and Washington Practice Materials.

Tools for Legal Writing and Studying Legal Language


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