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Cite-Checking Research Guide

Primary Law Sources

The Law Library has a fairly extensive print collection of federal and California law materials most of which are located on the library’s main floor. The Law Library also has print subscriptions to the statutory codes for  Arizona, Delaware, Illinois, Louisiana, Nevada, New York, and Texas.  These are located on the third floor.

Also on the third floor are some primary law sources for other countries, international law sources, including treaties, as well as additional copies of some of the major federal and California law sources.  A much more extensive collection of foreign and international sources can be found at the LA Law Library located in downtown Los Angeles. 

 As with regular books and periodicals, you can use library catalogs to see if a particular primary law source is located at USC or another law library in the L.A. area.  You may also be able to find a PDF version of a primary source using one of the electronic databases listed below.  (Note that this is not an all-inclusive list of every resource containing PDF primary law sources.)  Following this list is a chart that provides the dates of coverage for various primary law sources available in PDF in the first three databases mentioned below.

Databases

HeinOnline

HeinOnline contains a number of primary law “libraries” in addition to the Law Journal and Legal Classics libraries discussed above.  When you select HeinOnline from the Law Library’s “Online Resources” page, you will see all of the available HeinOnline libraries listed.  Many of the primary law sources available on HeinOnline can also be accessed through links on the law library’s catalog, ADVOCAT.

FDsys

This official web site for U.S. government documents provides free electronic access to a large number of federal primary law sources in PDF.

LLMC Digital

LLMC (Law Library Microform Consortium) is a non-profit cooperative dedicated to the preservation of legal information.  LLMC Digital is its PDF collection of government and legal publications, many of which are primary law sources.  This resource is still a work in progress, but it contains many historical publications that may be difficult to find elsewhere.  Like HeinOnline, LLMC Digital is accessible through the law library’s “Online Resources” page, and some of the sources included in the collection can also be accessed through links in the law library’s catalog, ADVOCAT.

Westlaw

PDF versions of all federal and state cases from the West federal and regional case reporters are available on Westlaw.

Coverage Chart

This chart provides the dates of coverage for various primary law sources available in PDF in the first three databases on the list.

 

HEINONLINE

FDsys

LLMC DIGITAL

U.S. Reports (U.S.)

1754-2011 & preliminary prints, slip opinions

 

1790-2011

United States Code (U.S.C.)

1925/26-2012 editions

1994-2014*

 

Federal Public Laws - U.S. Statutes at Large (Stat.)

1789-2011

1951-present**

1776-2011

Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.)

1938-present

1996-present

 

Federal Register

 

1936-present

1994-present

 

Federal Agency Decisions (for select agencies)

Varies by agency

 

Varies by agency

U.S. Attorney General Opinions

1791-1982

 

1789-1982

U.S. Treaties and Other International Agreements  (U.S.T.)

1950-1984

 

1950-1984

Treaties and Other International Acts Series (T.I.A.S.)

1982-2016

 

 

English Reports

 

1220-1867

 

1220-1865 (Reprint)

*The FDsys and print versions of the official U.S.C. are updated differently.  On FDsys, the code titles are revised each year to reflect the “current” version of the law (though some U.S.C. titles are only updated through 2012).  The print editions, in contrast, are only reissued every six years and updated through yearly supplements

** FDsys includes recent public laws not yet published in U.S. Statutes at Large.  These laws appear in exactly the same form in which they will eventually appear in Statutes at Large (with the permanent Stat. volume and page numbers included as well).