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Paralegal Research Guide: Introduction

Research tools for finding information about court cases, legal resources, and more.
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Types of Legal Materials

There are two basic types of legal materials:

1. Primary Law Sources

These are authorized statements of the law issued by a branch of government. They include:

  • Constitutions
  • Statutes
  • Court Rules
  • Administrative Regulations
  • Cases

Understanding the three branches of government aids in distinguishing the source of primary materials.

  • Legislative Branch: Creates laws, passes statues, sets public policy.
  • Judicial Branch: Interprets laws, constitutions, statues, etc., and settles legal disputes.
  • Executive Branch: Enforces laws, conducts affairs, and commands the military.

2. Secondary Law Sources

These sources provide commentary and interpretation of the law. They are a good starting point when researching an unfamiliar area of the law.

  • Treatises
  • Law review articles & reports
  • Legal periodicals
  • Law dictionaries, thesauruses, & encyclopedias
  • Restatements
  • Continuing legal education publications
  • Hornbooks
  • American Law Reports Annotations

Geographic boundaries of US Court of Appeals and District Courts

Kern County Law Library

Cerro Coso's Ridgecrest campus hosts a branch of the Kern County Law Library.

It features a computer with access to the following resources:

  • WestLaw Classic
  • HeinOnline

It also houses a collection of legal materials and Nolo books, including:

  • California Rules of Court
  • Central California Local Court Rules
  • How to Form a Nonprofit Corporation in California
  • California Landlord's Law Book
  • How to Do Your Own Divorce in California
  • Make Your Own Living Trust
  • Represent Yourself in Court
  • ...and many more!

Cerro Coso Library

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Cerro Coso Library
3000 College Heights Blvd.
Ridgecrest, CA 93555

Legal Databases

Here are just a few databases you might use to find articles.