Brief legal information

The ISU Library provides access to primary and secondary legal materials in both print and electronic formats. These include statutes, regulations, court decisions, and case law, as well as law dictionaries and encyclopedias, law reviews and other law-related articles.


Primary Sources of Law: can be divided into two categories: (i) legislation (statutes, regulations, and orders-in-council) and (ii) case law (decisions of courts and administrative tribunals). Primary legal resources are the products of official bodies with the authority to make law. Thus, primary legal resources can affect the legal rights of citizens.

Secondary Sources of Law: are background resources. Unlike primary resources, they do not have the power to affect legal rights, and are referred to instead for their instructive value and for the references they provide to relevant primary sources of law. Secondary legal resources include textbooks, legal journals, legal encyclopedias, and case law digests/summaries. Because of the broad overview of the law that they provide, secondary legal resources can be an excellent starting point for legal research.

Getting started

On the Library home page, follow the  Article Indexes & Databases link. This will produce a complete A-Z list of databases available in the ISU Library. Use the subject/research area drop-down to select "Law." This will limit the list of databases accordingly. Select and search any database by clicking on the database name. If there is descriptive information regarding the database, it can be accessed via an information icon.

Among the many databases listed, LexisNexis Academic is an especially good starting point.
It provides access to law review articles, legal news, and top news stories. The vast majority of the titles on LexisNexis Academic are available in full text, with a limited number available in abstract form. Choose the Legal tab to search full-text articles from law reviews.

Other sources (online and print)

Beyond the law-related databases listed in the ISU Library, there are other sources of legal information, both online and printed, you may wish to consult. Following are two suggested resources. For more resources, see the Legal Resources Guide.

  • Legal Information Institute (via Cornell University Law School)
    Includes a series of "topical" pages that serve as concise explanatory guides and Internet resource listings for roughly 100 areas of law.
  • West Nutshell Series
    Nutshells provide a succinct summary and the fundamentals of a wide range of legal issues.  To locate specific Nutshells, search in Quick Search using "nutshell" as one of your keywords (e.g. nutshell bankruptcy).

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