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Mastering Federal Statutory Research

Mastering Statutory Research is a guide designed to demystify the world of statutes, providing readers with essential tools and knowledge needed to conduct effective legal research.

Legal Research on a Budget - Free Online Resources

The United States Code (U.S.C.) is the official compilation of federal statutes. It is divided into titles, and each title covers a specific area of law (e.g., Title 18 for Criminal Law).There are several great government databases worth checking: GovInfoOffice of the Law Revision Council and

Free Access to the US CODE via Govinfo:

Govinfo offers access to US primary legal resources.This database also offers access to both current and historical materials. 

Your may search via a known citation, search specific collections or all content, do a natural language search or a terms and connector search.  

Let's explore the known citation retrieval option in GovIinfo. When you add Public Law 104-272  in the general search box and click search, your result will be Public Law 104-272 (Public Law 104-272 - Professional Boxing Safety Act of 1996!  The research quest can continue  by exploring predefined filters and dates on the left column. 

Browsing contents in a specific collection. On the main Govinfo page you have the option to browse federal publications. Click on the  category


 folder > select the United States Code. This using the pull down menu, choose a year.  If you select Title 15 and click on the plus sign you explore chapters. In this example we will explore chapter 89. (Chapter 89 – Professional Boxing Safety (sections 6301 – 6313).  This statute is available as both a  PDF and Text file and it is free! It is pretty cool that you can read 6301 – 6313 in its entirety - for free!

Other other option is to searching all content  using keywords. E.g. Enter the term ‘boxing’ >to United States Code.’  Professional Boxing Safely Act came up as the first result/

You can also utilize a terms and connector search. If you are not sure of how to enter ‘Boolean Operators,’ just click on ‘Help,’ in the top toolbar.


Utilizing the Advance Search Option in Govinfo by selecting the advanced search option.  In this search mode you will be able to search all ‘Available Collections’ or just select an individual source. 


When using this database you can

  • utilize a keyword search query
  • utilize  a terms and connector search
  • utilize filter options

to refine your search.

Free access to the code is also available via the OFFICE OF THE LAW REVISION COUNCIL. You have a variety of search options.  You may search using terms and connects.  You may utilize the advance search option.  If you are unsure how to enter the Boolean commands, click on Search Tips.

You can also update a statute for free! (See tab on updating statutes in this guide).