Legal Reference Tools
- Black's Law Dictionary Westlaw
- KF 156 .B53 2019 (Reference)
- The standard legal dictionary for lawyers.
- Nolo's Plain-English Law Dictionary
- Free dictionary of legal terms. From Nolo, a respected publisher of do-it-yourself legal books.
- Martindale Lawyer Locator
- Locate a lawyer or law firm based on specialty, location, and even language. Includes directory information and (for some) short biographical blurbs. May browse via the menu or use the easy single-search box.
Encyclopedia and Digests
Legal encyclopedias are good sources for detailed subject access to legal research. Organized by topic, they provide a basic discussion of the law in question and citations to selected supporting cases and legislation. Digests, which take cases and distill out short summaries (called "squibs") of the individual points of a case and then arrange the squibs in subject order, are also useful for both identifying and explaining the law.
Two sets of legal encyclopedias dominate American legal research: Corpus Juris Secundum (C.J.S.) and American Jurisprudence 2d (Am. Jur. 2d).
- American Jurisprudence, 2d ed. Westlaw
- KF 75 .A47 (Reference)
- Similar in coverage to Corpus Juris Secundum, with only selected case references. Somewhat greater emphasis on federal statutory laws. Can browse table of contents, use single search box, or Advanced search options. To locate in Westlaw, click on "Secondary Sources" and then select American Jurisprudence 2d. Click on the "Campus Help Guide" for search tips. Online edition does not have the Index volumes; highly recommend referring to the print Index volumes for general search strategies, even though print updates canceled in 2003.
- Corpus Juris Secundum Westlaw
- KF 75 .C67 (Reference)
- A restatement of the entire body of American case law (and some federal and state statutory law) in encyclopedic form, with citations to reported cases as well as references to the National Reporter System (i.e., the South Western Reporter or S.W.3d). Can browse table of contents, use single search box, or Advanced search options. To locate in Westlaw, click on "Secondary Sources" and then select Corpus Juris Secundum. Click on the "Campus Help Guide" for search tips. Online edition does not have the Index volumes; may still refer to the print Index volumes for general search strategies, even though print updates were canceled in 1998.
Just as there are two major sets of legal encyclopedias for federal legal research, there are two major sources for Texas legal research: Texas Jurisprudence (Tex. Jur. 3d) and Texas Digest (Tex. Dig. 2d).
- Texas Jurisprudence, 3d ed. Westlaw
- KFT 1280 .T490 (Reference)
- Follows the format of American Jurisprudence, but covers the case and statutory laws of the courts of Texas. The arrangement is alphabetical by topics and there is both a general print Index and an index in each print volume. Can browse table of contents, use single search box, or Advanced search options. To locate in Westlaw, click on "Secondary Sources," select Texas, and then select Texas Jurisprudence. Click on the "Campus Help Guide" for search tips. Online edition does not have the Index volumes; highly recommend referring to the print Index volumes for general search strategies. The print set is current.
- Texas Digest, 2d ed.
- KFT 1257 .T5 (Reference)
- Indexes and digests Texas case law from both state and federal courts. The print Digest can be accessed from a variety of means: by topic, through the Table of Cases, or through the Descriptive Word Index. For general overview, can use the print set, although it was canceled in 2002. The same information can be found by using Westlaw. The easiest way to search in Westlaw begins with a West Key Number System search. To change the search from all federal cases, click on link to "All Fed" by the single search box. Uncheck the box for "All Federal." Check "Texas" and "Include Related Federal" to search all Texas state and Texas federal cases. Click "Save." Can search or drill down the list of topics to a specific headnote. It may help to read general information about online digests.
- Texas Secondary Sources Westlaw
- Has a goldmine of four current sets of Texas forms from a premier legal publisher: Texas Forms Legal and Business; Texas Jurisprudence Pleading and Practice Forms; Texas Legal Practice Forms, and West's Texas Forms.
- Gale Legal Forms: Texas Legal Forms Library
- Over 9,800 Texas legal forms. Searchable or browsable by category, including wills, divorce, power of attorney, incorporation, real estate, guardianship, leases, affidavits, and much more.
- Legal Information Reference Center
- More than 13,700 state-specific legal forms. More than 1,300 of multi-state legal forms.
- FindLaw: Forms and Contracts
- Links to free federal and state tax and court forms. Other legal forms and business forms are available for purchase; designed for legal professionals.
- LII: Legal Encyclopedia (Legal Information Institute)
- Articles from Wex--a community-built, collaboratively-edited legal dictionary and encyclopedia. Alphabetical list of topics. Includes brief summaries of the law with links to key primary source material and other internet resources.
- Nolo: Laws and Legal Research
- Tools to help non-lawyers conduct legal research. Provides practical help for conducting statute and case research. Includes basic information and frequently asked questions. Nolo even offers a list of Helpful Legal Websites.
For More Information
- Public Library Toolkit
- Basic information intended to "help public librarians understand the process of legal research, effectively develop and use the information located within their libraries, utilize information located outside their libraries, with the end goal of helping the patron locate the legal information they need." Includes a state-specific public library toolkit for Texas.
- Legal Research: How to Find and Understand the Law
- Stephen Elias. Berkeley, CA : Nolo Press
- KF 240 .E35 (Reference)
- A fairly recent edition is available as an eBook in the database Legal Information Reference Center.
- Legal Research in a Nutshell
- Morris L. Cohen, Kent C. Olson. 11th ed. St. Paul, MN : West, 2013.
- KF240 .C54 2013 (Reference)