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Law Library

Introduction to Legal Research

Popular Access Points

  • Access Points or Indexes
    1. Law is an incredibly well indexed field.  There are certain types of indexes that should always be there.  Even when you approach a resource you are not familiar with you should always look for the following types of indexes.
    2. Subject or Key Word | Table of Contents | Name or Table of Cases | Numbers
    3. Look for an index.  It is much broader than keywords or a formal subject index.  
      1. Keyword, a little more free flowing, stream of consciousness
      2. Subject, more structured, more defined.
    4. Look for a Table of Contents
    5. Look for a Table of Cases
      1. Phone Book gives you a list of names.  So does a table of cases.
    6. Look for a Table of Statutory References.
      1. What if you only have the street address for an individual?  They have directories where if you have the street address, you can retrieve the name and address for an individual.  Numbers can act as a point of access, as an index.  
      2. Using a term or number or cite to find potentially relevant sections in main volume(s).
    7. Popular Indexes:
      1. Table of Contents
      2. Table of Cases
      3. Table of Statutory References
      4. Subject Index
  • What about the computer databases.  The names may change but you should look for these same types of indexes.  For example, if you are searching the Illinois Statutes on Westlaw, you will find the statutes listed in a table of contents arrangement.  You will also find a formal index using a controlled vocabulary as well as a popular name table.