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Legal Research: Six Categories of Law Materials

It is recommended that an attorney be consulted when an interpretation of the law is needed. UCF library staff are not able to provide any legal advice. Legal Assistance Information

Six Categories of Law Materials

Many print legal resources fall into one of six categories. There are other important distinctions you will make in conducting legal research, such as civil/criminal and federal/state, but these six categories can help you understand the relationship between different sources of information.

Resources for each of the three branches of government (Legislative, Executive, Judicial) are generally arranged either chronologically or by subject. The chronological version will usually be published first, so if you are looking for updates to information appearing in a subject resource, try to identify its chronological counterpart.

If you can determine which category best describes a document, then you may find it easier to identify its relationship with other resources. A few documents may be a combination of two or more categories, such as the U.S. Code, Lawyers Edition, which is a subject arrangement of laws passed by Congress, but also provides a subject arrangement of judicial decisions associated with those laws.

Examples are provided below for some Federal and Florida publications.

Branch of Government Federal Florida
Legislative Branch – Chronological Slip Laws
U.S. Statutes at Large
U.S. Code Congressional & Administrative News
Florida Bills
West’s Florida Session Law Service
Laws of Florida
Legislative Branch – Subject U.S. Code
U.S. Code, Lawyers Edition
Florida Statutes
Florida Statutes Annotated
Executive Branch – Chronological Federal Register Florida Administrative Weekly / Register
Executive Branch – Subject Code of Federal Regulations Florida Administrative Code
Judicial Branch – Chronological U.S. Law Week
U.S. Reports
Florida Law Weekly
Southern Reporter, Florida Cases
Judicial Branch – Subject U.S. Supreme Court Digest
West’s Federal Practice Digest
American Law Reports
West’s Florida Digest, 2d
Florida Jurisprudence, 2d