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Searching Case Law with LexisNexis: Sources, Sources, Sources

Need to do legal research and stumped by LexisNexis? This LibGuide is for you!

What's Your Source?

The law is divided into two types of sources: PRIMARY & SECONDARY


There are two types of primary sources: LEGISLATION & CASE LAW.

LEGISLATION - statutes, regulations, and orders-in-counsel

CASE LAW - decisions in court and administrative tribunals

In other words, primary sources are statements of the law itself as defined by an official entity, such as the courts, legislation, etc.



These are the materials that explain, analyze, discuss, and interpret what the law is or what it should be. 

EXAMPLES -  treatises, law reviews, law journals, legal encyclopedias, ALR annotations, restatements, and legal newspapers


Where's Your Primary Source?

LexisNexis makes finding sources easy.



DID YOU KNOW?   Statutes are codified every two years.  Every state organizes their statutes differently.

LexisNexis simplifies searching for statutes by breaking it down into Federal and State.  You can search by keyword or browse by topic/subject.  To search for Federal & State Statutes, Codes, and Regulations, click on "Search by Content Type" and choose the federal or state option under "Legal."





LexisNexis provides the option to perform a keyword search, or browse the Annotated U.S. Code, Constitution of the United States, or the Code of Federal Regulations. 

TIP: It may be easier to browse these sources if you are unsure of where to start.




Like the Federal search, you are provided with the option to perform a keyword search, or browse the Statutory Code, Administrative Code, or the Constitution of each state.  You can also narrow your keyword search by selecting a specific state.

Where's Your Secondary Source?

LexisNexis isn't all about primary sources.  We're not legal experts (and even they use LexisNexis!), and secondary sources are important.

Here's how to find them:


Look at the very top of the page: Two options are presented for the Source Directory: Browse and Find. If you're not certain how to find your exact sources, browsing may be the better option.



LexisNexis provides a step-by-step process for browsing sources.

STEP ONE: Choose to browse by 'Publication Type,' 'News & Business Topics,' 'Industry,' or 'Area of Law.'

STEP TWO: Filter by country and/or topic.

STEP THREE: Choose your publication type. 




If you are searching a specific source, LexisNexis provides a way to directly search that source's content.

You can search by keyword, publication type, and topic, or browse through an alphabetical list of the sources.




American Jurisprudence

Thought encyclopedias were out of print?  Guess again.  They're available online and they're extremely helpful secondary sources.  American Jurisprudence 2d (AmJur2d) is a national legal encyclopedia published by Thomson-West Publishing Company.  AmJur2d provides you wtih broad information about every legal topic.

To access American Jurisprudence through Lexis Nexis, click on "Search by Content Type" and and select Legal Reference:

Then check the box for American Jurisprudence 2d:


You can browse by legal topic or by conducting a topic search within the search fields above.