Skip to main content

What You Always Wanted to Know about Legal Research (*But Were Afraid to Ask!)

This guide provides quick tips about common legal research tasks. It was originally prepared for a Bridge the Legal Research Gap program.

About Other Legal Documents

In addition to constitutions, laws, cases, and regulations, you will sometimes need to locate other types of legal authority. Examples include:

  • administrative agency decisions
  • child support schedules
  • court rules
  • ethics opinions
  • jury instructions
  • jury verdicts, settlements, judgments, and liens
  • interest rates

Administrative Agency Decisions

Many federal and state agencies conduct adjudicative proceedings and issue opinions.

Administrative decisions are often found in looseleaf services (and their online counterparts) and online databases on specific subjects.

Examples include:

Child Support Schedules

Court Rules

Court rules are "[r]regulations having the force of law and governing practice and procedure in the various courts . . . ." (Black's Law Dictionary, 10th ed., 2014).

These rules are generally written by committees of judges in each jurisdiction. Examples include:

Ethics Opinions

In Washington, several government agencies and the Washington State Bar Association issue ethics opinions governing the conduct of several groups. See the Gallagher guides on:

Examples of other sources of ethics opinions include:

Jury Instructions

Jury instructions are directions or guidelines that a judge gives a jury concerning the law of a case. Each jurisdiction has its own set of instructions and there are instructions covering specific types of actions.

Examples include:

Jury Verdicts and Settlements

See the Gallagher guide on Jury Verdicts, Settlements, Judgments & Liens.