As a paralegalassisting in the dealings of a law firm, one is often called upon to do extensive research on all aspects of law as are appropriate to the cases that may be under their care at the time. Such research may be comprise of finding statutes, for instance. Since statutory law provides such important precedence for court hearings, it is no wonder that finding statutes presents itself as an oftentimes pertinent and lengthy task for any paralegal to undertake.
The first step in such a process of finding statutes is to be assured that statutory law does exist for the case at hand. Good areas to start include that of “law review articles” and other such sources related to statutory law. When pursuing federal statutes, familiarity with its organization is important. Federal statutes are ordered “chronologically” in terms of “session laws” and “topically” in relation to “codes.” These codes are pertinent to start of an endeavor with the express purpose of finding statutes.
This is due to the fact that codes exemplify the way in which current statutory law is arranged according to subject. Within these codes, as well, are the languages that stemmed from session laws in addition to language associated directly with statutory law. When using sites such as Lexis-Nexis and West Law, you may just enter in citations of code into the prescribed search areas. When finding statutes by topic, however, you may search according to keyword terms. The two main texts from which to look, if you wish to go a route aside from the internet, is that of the “United States Code Annotate” and the “United States Code Service.”
You may locate these texts in various law-focused libraries. Be advised that each possesses its own specific ways of indexing or classification. If you already possess the specific citation for your statute, you may look to match the title number with the corresponding section. If you lack this number, however, you may look to the subject index of either these two texts, which will reside in the last volume.
A “general index” will also provide you with topics related to each federal statute. When attempting to dissect a “citation number,” you must be aware of the following, the first number is representative of the title number, the capitalized acronym is the code, the following digit(s) compose the section number, and the last hyphenate letters stand for the subsection. Familiarization with such parts of a citation number ensures a more direct approach to finding statutes.
When finding statutes according to individual state statutory law, however, processes differ slightly according to your state. In Kentucky, for instance, you will be asked to attain the “general index.” This text arranges terms in alphabetical order in relation to the “Kentucky Revised Statutes.” Reviewing this text is the first step to then acquiring the books needed for whatever aspect of statutory law that you may be seeking.