Updated March 30, 2011.
Prepared by Peggy Roebuck Jarrett & Jonathan Franklin for 2002 Bridge the Legal Research Gap.
Updated & revised by Cheryl Nyberg for 2006 Bridge the Legal Research Gap.
Links to LexisNexis and Westlaw require user passwords or IDs. Links to HeinOnline are UW Restricted.
Every primary source; every time
Many secondary sources: look for pocket parts, supplements, later editions, etc.
|Take advantage of the work of others|
|Use help services||Including librarians & vendor toll-free numbers|
|Abbreviations & acronyms||
Bieber's Dictionary of Legal Citations. [Gallagher catalog link]
The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation. Blue pages [Gallagher catalog link]
Gallagher legal research guides
|What does that word mean?||
General dictionaries (American Heritage, Webster's)
Words and Phrases: cites cases that define words & phrases. [Gallagher catalog link] On Westlaw, search case and statute databases with WP field.
Gallagher legal research guide: Legal Dictionaries
|Starting a research project?||Consult a research guide|
|Need an exhaustive treatment?||Try a a major, multi-volume treatise
LaFave on Search and Seizure. [Gallagher catalog link]
Pierce's Administrative Law Treatise. [Gallagher catalog link]
|Starting a Washington-specific research project?||
Washington Lawyers Practice Manual. [Gallagher catalog link]
Washington State Bar Association (WSBA) deskbooks (also on Loislaw)
Chapter 4, Washington Practice Materials, in the Washington Legal Researcher's Deskbook 3d
Gallagher legal research guide: Washington Practice Materials
|Got a specific fact pattern?||
American Law Reports (ALR) annotations can be gold mines of information. Especially useful for a review of caselaw across jurisdictions relative to a specific fact situation. LexisNexis: 2NDARY;LEDALR
Recent law review articles summarize areas of the law & footnotes lead to sources for additional research
|Looking for a law review article?||
Use a periodical index such as LegalTrac instead of or in addition to searching full-text law review articles on LexisNexis & Westlaw
LegalTrac indexes by subject, so you will find articles that lack the keywords you used in a full-text search
LegalTrac coverage begins with 1980 (longer time span than most law reviews available in full text on LexisNexis & Westlaw)
LegalTrac searches will yield fewer but more relevant lists of articles
|Looking for older law review articles?||
Use the Index to Legal Periodicals (indexes articles published before 1980).
Check HeinOnline for PDF versions of older law reviews, including the Columbia Law Review (1901- ), Harvard Law Review (1887- ), Michigan Law Review (1902- ) & Washington Law Review (1925- )
|Sample forms save time||
|Need factual information?||Contact the public library!
Seattle Public Library, Reference
Seattle Public Library Quick Information: 206-386-4636
Internet Public Library's Reference
Gallagher legal research guide: Nonlegal Research
Federal: first volumes of USCA & USCS
Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation. GPO Access
Washington: first volumes of RCWA & ARCW
Both: LexisNexis & Westlaw
|Start your research with statutes||
Can yield a quicker answer
Cases are often based on statutory interpretation
Annotated codes are a great way to find relevant cases & law review articles quickly
Gallagher legal research guide: Statutory Research Checklist
|Statutes are often easier to use in print than online||
They have a hierarchical structure
It is easy to browse adjacent sections
The page layout provides context, emphasizing important sections
Check cover or title page to determine how current the volume is
Consult the pocket part or other supplement
Look for the legislative service or the session laws (U.S. Statutes at Large or Laws of Washington)
Go to legislative websites for latest action.
Do not assume online sources (LexisNexis or Westlaw) are more current than print! Look for date of currency
|Popular names of legislation||
Washington: Tables in RCW & RCWA
Federal: Tables in USC, USCS & USCA. Plus Shepard's Acts and Cases by Popular Name
Popular Names of Acts in the US Code, from Cornell Law School
Run a search in an electronic database of law reviews (this can be expensive!)
|Effective dates of legislation||
Washington: 90 days after adjournment of the legislative session, unless the bill has a specified effective date or emergency clause. Refer to Laws of Washington, RCWA tables volume & RCWA pocket parts for dates of adjournment and 90 days after
Federal: the date the bill is signed into law by the President, unless the bill has a specified effective date
|Need to convert a session law or public law reference to a current statutory citation?||Use the tables volumes.
Disposition tables of former code sections
Commercial sets (USCA, RCWA) provide more extensive tables
USC = United States Code (official, but not timely). Used primarily for citation purposes, not for research. GPO Access
USCA = United States Code Annotated (unofficial; includes references to cases). Westlaw: USCA
USCS = United States Code Service (unofficial; includes references to cases). LexisNexis: GENFED;USCS
Update USCA & USCS using pocket parts & supplements, or online
RCW = Revised Code of Washington (official). LegalWA
RCWA = Revised Code of Washington Annotated (unofficial; includes references to cases). Westlaw: WA-ST-ANN
ARCW = Annotated Revised Code of Washington (unofficial; includes references to cases). LexisNexis: WASH;CODE
CFR = Code of Federal Regulations
FR or Fed. Reg. = Federal Register. Published daily; updates the CFR
LSA = List of CFR Sections Affected. Use the LSA to find FR updates to specific CFR sections
Proposed & final regs in the Federal Register often include have preambles with useful background information
Gallagher legal research guide: U.S. Administrative Law Research
WAC = Washington Administrative Code
WSR = Washington State Register. Biweekly; updates the WAC
Gallagher legal research guide: Washington Administrative Law Research
|Comparing 50 states' laws?||See if someone has done the work already!|
|Internet sites for statutes & regulations||Gallagher's Internet Legal Resources|
|Federal legislative histories||Look for shortcuts!
ProQuest Congressional Legislative Histories, 1970-date.
Federal Legislative Histories: An Annotated Bibliography and Index to Officially Published Sources. [Gallagher catalog link]
Gallagher legal research guide: Federal Legislative History
|Congressional Record||Two editions
Daily edition (softbound, newsprint)
Permanent edition (hardbound).
|Understand the abbreviations||
H.R. = House of Representatives bill. For example, H.R. 1157.
H.R. Rep. = House of Representatives committee report. For example, H.R. Rep. No. 107-95.
|Washington legislative histories||
Read Chapter 6, Legislative History, Initiatives & Bill Tracking, in the Washington Legal Researcher’s Deskbook 3d
Gallagher legal research guide: Washington State Legislative History
|Starting with a single case||
Use West key numbers
Use KeyCite or Shepard's to expand your research to other cases (in the same or other jurisdictions) & to find secondary sources
Check ALR's table of cases
|Stuck on case research?||
Look at the major cases cited in your best case
KeyCite or Shepardize those earlier cases to find cases that might be related
Go back to a secondary source
|Resist the temptation to copy every case you find||Save time & money by pulling those cases off the shelf, reading them & copying (or printing) only the most relevant|
BR = Bankruptcy Reporter
FRD = Federal Rules Decisions
When in doubt, check Bieber’s or the Bluebook
Gallagher research guide: Reporters & Digests
|Case updating best done online||
To get more up-to-date results in less time, use KeyCite or Shepard’s online
Just before you hand in the project, update again to make sure nothing has changed
|Administrative agency decisions||
LexisNexis & Westlaw databases
Consult major looseleaf services & corresponding online databases: banking, environment, labor, securities, tax, etc.
|Court rules, Washington State||
RPC = Rules of Professional Conduct
ER = Rules of Evidence
RAP = Rules of Appellate Procedure
CR = Superior Court Civil Rules
CrR = Superior Court Criminal Rules
CRLJ = Civil Rules for Courts of Limited Jurisdiction
CrRLJ = Criminal Rules for Courts of Limited Jurisdiction
Find the text in Washington Court Rules – State
|Court rules, Washington local||
Rules of the District and Municipal Courts in Washington. [Gallagher catalog link]
Washington Court Rules – Local Rules. [Gallagher catalog link]
|Court rules, Washington annotated||
Washington Court Rules Annotated. [Gallagher catalog link]
Washington Rules of Court Annotated. [Gallagher catalog link]
Appendix to Title 10 RCWA contains annotated criminal rules
Various volumes of Washington Practice
|Child support schedule & worksheets, Washington||
Appendix to RCWA 26.19. Not printed in the RCW!
Domestic Relations Forms. [Gallagher catalog link] Not in the Washington Family Law Deskbook!
Make sure you use the current version
|Ethics opinions||Gallagher legal research guide: Washington State Ethics Opinions covers attorneys, judges, legislators & public employees|
Washington Pattern Jury Instructions: Civil (in Washington Practice vols. 6 & 6A). Westlaw: WA-WPI
Washington Pattern Jury Instructions: Criminal (in Washington Practice vols. 11 & 11A). Westlaw: WA-WPIC
|Jury verdicts||Gallagher legal research guide: Jury Verdicts, Settlements, Judgments, and Liens|
Washington Judges Book covers state appellate courts & some lower courts
|Interest rate, Washington maximum allowable||Printed inside the cover of each Washington State Register issue|
|First time using a new source?||
Review "how to use" section
Browse table of contents & index
Check publication date & supplementation to determine how much updating you will need to do
Page numbers & paragraph numbers are different
Indexes & finding lists refer to paragraph numbers, not page numbers
Check section T (the blue pages) of The Bluebook for lists of reporters, statutory codes & administrative codes for all the states (with abbreviations) & many foreign jurisdictions
Reporter of Decisions Style Sheet covers additions & exceptions to The Bluebook required by the Washington Courts.
Search full-text law review articles to find proper citation formats when The Bluebook fails you. Beware: This can be an expensive option!
|Keep a paper trail||
Keep print copies of searches run
If you find something on the Internet, always print or download a copy
Log sources you have already checked to avoid going back to them for the same thing
Smaller databases are cheaper
Smaller sets of search results save you time & minimize the number of irrelevant hits
Use Get or Find feature to efficiently retrieve known items
|Use the system as a citator||When you need to verify the status of an administrative decision or some other legal authority not included in Shepard's or Keycite.|
|When is it OK to stop?||When the same cases & statutes repeatedly appear.|