Legal Reference Tools


Black's Law Dictionary, 2009. 9th ed.
KF 156 .B53 2009 (Reference)
The standard legal dictionary for lawyers.
Duhaime's Law Dictionary
A dictionary of legal terms written in plain language. Can search or browse alphabetically. Written by Canadian lawyer Lloyd Duhaime. Canadian bias.
Nolo's Free Dictionary of Law Terms and Legal Definitions
Legal terms in plain English. From Nolo Press.


Martindale Lawyer Locator
Locate a lawyer or law firm based on specialty, location, firm size, law school, and even language. Includes directory information and (for some) short biographical blurbs. May use advanced search or 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.

United States

Two sets of legal encyclopedias dominate American legal research: Corpus Juris Secundum (CJS) and American Jurisprudence 2d (Am.Jur.2d).

WestlawNext -- American Jurisprudence, 2d ed. (WTAMU only)
KF 75 .A47 (Reference)
Similar in coverage to Corpus Juris Secundum with only selected case references. Somewhat greater emphasis on federal statutory laws. The Desk Book functions as a legal almanac. Accessed either by topic or through the general index. Print cancelled in 2003. You will be required to accept an online license agreement to access the database. Click on "Secondary Sources" and select American Jurisprudence 2d. Click on the icon for scope of coverage for help on searching. Online edition does not have the Index volumes; highly recommend referring to the print Index volumes, even though out of date.
Corpus Juris Secundum
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 SW3d). Access is either by topic or through the general index. Cancelled in 1998 but still useful.


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 (TexJur) and Texas Digest (Tex.Dig.2d).

Texas Jurisprudence, 3rd ed.
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 index and an index in each volume.
Texas Digest, 2nd ed.
KFT 1257 .T5 (Reference)
Indexes and digests Texas case law from both state and federal courts. The Digest can be accessed from a variety of means: by topic, through the Table of Cases, or through the Descriptive Word Index. Updating through cumulative annual pocket parts. Print cancelled in 2003. The same information can be found using WestlawNext. You will be required to accept an online license agreement to access the database. Click on "Secondary Sources" and select American Jurisprudence 2d.


FindLaw Forms
Links to free federal and state tax and court forms. Other legal forms and business forms are available for purchase; designed for legal professionals.
WashLaw Web Legal Forms
Links to federal and state legal, business, and tax forms. From Washburn University School of Law.

Internet Guides

LII: Law About...
Articles from Wex--a 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. Starts off with FAQs and Basic Info. Also has Federal Law Resources and State Law Resources. Even has a list of Helpful Legal Websites.
Zimmerman's Research Guide: An Online Encyclopedia for Legal Researchers
A guide to government and legal information on the web.

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."
Legal Research: How to Find and Understand the Law
Stephen Elias. 16th ed. Berkeley, CA : Nolo Press, 2012
KF 240 .E35 2012 (Reference)
Legal Research in a Nutshell
Morris L. Cohen, Kent C. Olson. 6th ed. St. Paul, Minn : West, 1996.
KF240 .C54 1996 (Reference)

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