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Sources of American Law: An Introduction to Legal Research

(1 review)

Beau Steenken, University of Kentucky

Tina M. Brooks, University of Northern Iowa

Pub Date: 2016

Publisher: CALI's eLangdell® Press

Language: English

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Reviewed by Ann Su, Part-time Instructor, Portland Community College on 6/20/17

This text is very basic. As a primary source of information it may be adequate if heavily supplemented with information from other sources and used a reference more than a teaching tool. It is the type of text I might use to reduce costs for... read more

 

Table of Contents

  • Preface
  • The United States Legal System
  • Constitutions & Statutes
  • Judicial Opinions & Common Law.
  • Administrative Regulations
  • Electronic Research
  • Secondary Sources
  • The Research Process

 

About the Book

At its most basic definition the practice of law comprises conducting research to find relevant rules of law and then applying those rules to the specific set of circumstances faced by a client. However, in American law, the legal rules to be applied derive from myriad sources, complicating the process and making legal research different from other sorts of research. This text introduces first-year law students to the new kind of research required to study and to practice law. It seeks to demystify the art of legal research by following a “Source and Process” approach. First, the text introduces students to the major sources of American law and describes the forms the various authorities traditionally took in print. After establishing this base, the text proceeds to instruct students on the methods they will most likely use in practice, namely electronic research techniques and the consultation of secondary sources. Sources of Law incorporates screencasts currently hosted on YouTube that actively demonstrate the processes described in the static text. Finally, the text illustrates how the different pieces come together in the legal research process.

Sources of Law focuses on realistic goals for 1Ls to learn in a relatively small amount of instruction time, and so focuses mainly on the basics. It does introduce some advanced material so that 1Ls can recognize pieces of information they may encounter in research, but it does not fully cover researching materials outside the scope of the traditional 1L course. As such, it is best-suited for introductory legal research courses for 1Ls.

About the Contributors

Authors

Beau Steenken joined the Law Library Faculty at the University of Kentucky in September 2010. As Instructional Services Librarian, he engaged in a revamp of the Legal Research curriculum as the UK College of Law shifted from an adjunct-model to a full-time faculty model of LRW instruction. He teaches two to four sections of 1L Legal Research a year and also coordinates informal research instruction of various sorts. Before coming to the University of Kentucky, he managed to collect a B.A., a J.D., and an M.S.I.S. from the University of Texas, as well as an M.A. in history from Texas State University and an LL.M. in Public International law from the University of Nottingham, where he also took up archery.

Tina M. Brooks received a B.A. in History and Spanish from the University of Northern Iowa in 2005, a J.D. from the University of Nebraska College of Law in 2009, and an M.S. in Information Studies from the University of Texas School of Information in 2011. She joined the University of Kentucky Law Library Faculty in July 2011 as the Electronic Services Librarian. In addition to her library duties, which include managing the law library website and the library’s electronic resources, she teaches two sections of 1L Legal Research.