Statutes are available in print, through commercial databases such as Lexis Advance, Bloomberg Law, and Westlaw, on government web sites, on the low-cost site Casemaker and on free sites.
Federal and state annotated statutes are published online by Thompson Reuters West and Lexis. Bloomberg Law publishes annotated federal statutes and may be adding states.
The ability to find relevant statutes (aka code sections, statutory sections) by topic is one of the most important research skills.
An index is at or near the end of the print statutory set and may include several volumes. Indexes are also found on Westlaw.
Failure to use index to find statutes is the #1 reason that many students are less than stellar researchers
You find all sections on a topic in one place
Usually the best place to start statutory research!
A table of contents is at the beginning of a print code title or statutory set. A table of contents is also found online.
You quickly find all the related statutory sections
Sometimes you don't know where to begin looking
A keyword search recognizes terms and connectors (boolean) searches and sometimes natural language and features a prominent search box. Keyword searches are only available online.
Very powerful search method since you can directly search the full text of statutes
Sometimes it is hard to guess what terms will used in a statute (divorce or dissolution? alimony or support?)
The popular name table is usually at the end of a print code title or statutory set. All the major commercial databases also include popular name searches.
|1.||Citation||Citation||Title U.S.C. §xx|
|2.||Title||Title||Number or name|
|3.||Chapter||Chapter||Usually includes number or letter AND name|
|4.||Section title||Section title||Usually includes number or letter AND name|
|5.||Text of statute||Text of statute||"the law"|
|6.||History||History||Cites to session law(s) that created and amended the section of the statute|
|Historical annotations||Editor's added details of statute's history|
|8.||Cross references||Editor compiled citations to related laws (and sometimes regulations)|
|9.||Secondary sources||Editor compiled citation to sources that cite statute|
|10.||Case annotations||Editor compiled notes from analyzing cases that interpret the statutes|
|(also called Notes of Decision, Case Notes, squibs)|