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Legal Research and Writing Guide

This guide is for legal reference and Bluebook citation assistance for all NAU students. The information in this guide is not intended as legal advice.

Legal Research Process

Two Types of Legal Resources:

  • "Primary" sources are "the law," created by government authorities, including constitutions, statutes, court opinions (cases), administrative regulations (created by executive agencies), administrative decisions, and municipal ordinances.
  • "Secondary" sources are explanations of the law, including dictionaries, legal encyclopedias, American Law Reports (A.L.R.) annotations, Restatements of the Law, law review and journal articles, news reports, and other commentary. 

Legal researchers begin their research with secondary sources. These sources are organized by topic and contain citations to relevant primary sources. For example, the dictionaries and encyclopedias on the next page are good places to start your legal research.

Legal Research Process "Rules":

  • If you used a print source, always check the pocket part.
  • Update and validate (Shepardize or Keycite) all primary authorities.
  • Read all information provided and then plan your research!

Deborah E. Bouchoux, Legal Research and Writing for Paralegals 516 (9th ed. 2020).

Legal Research Process videos:

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