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Federal Law Research Guide   Tags: federal  

The Federal Documents Collection at Thurgood Marshall Law Library
Last Updated: Oct 5, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

Getting Started Print Page

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This guide is a starting point for researching federal law at the Thurgood Marshall Law Library. Federal law comes from the three branches of federal government. Federal statutory law is created by Congress in the Legislative Branch, federal case law is created by federal courts in the Judicial Branch, and federal administrative law is created by the president and administrative agencies in the Executive Branch.

Note that some sources linked in this guide have license restrictions; the law library can only provide access to subscription databases such as Bloomberg Law, Lexis Advance and WestlawNext to the UM Law community.


Getting Started

Unless you are already knowledgeable about a topic area, it is best to start with background resources and then to consult more focused or specialized works, moving from secondary to primary resources.

Articles, books and government resources can provide you with an overview of your topic and help you think of search terms that you might not have thought   of otherwise. They will also cite primary authorities such as statutes and case law. You can then use the primary sources cited in the secondary sources as   a jumping off point to find other primary sources.

For general sources of federal legal materials and information on the three branches of government:

FDsys, GPO's Federal Digital System (FDsys) portal, provides public access to Government information submitted by Congress and Federal agencies and preserved by GPO as technology changes.

United States Government Manual is the official handbook of the Federal Government printed in a special edition of the Federal Register. It describes the powers, structure, and publications of the legislative, judicial, and executive branches, and includes information about quasi-official agencies and other federal organizations, as well as international organizations with U.S. membership., the U.S. government's official web portal, provides information on federal resources, services and forms for citizens, businesses and government.

For substantive background on a federal legal research topic, please consult the Secondary Sources tab.


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