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Legal Studies

The guide is designed to assist with locating case law, legal reviews, legislative history, and scholarly articles.


This guide is designed to assist you with locating: case law, legal reviews, legislative history, regulations, and scholarly articles.

Case, Statutory, and Regulatory Laws - Definitions and Differences

There are three types of law which prevail at the federal, state, and local levels of government in the United States.  They are:

  • Case Law
  • Statutory Law
  • Regulatory Law

CASE LAW is the law of reported judicial opinions. Opinions are also known as reports or decisions. A reported judicial opinion may include: majority or plurality opinion, concurrences or dissents, and a prefatory syllabus.

"Stare Decisis" (or precedent) is the basic concept of case law (common law) in which courts look to statutes and regulations and prior court decisions to formulate opinions. One method of determining prior law is to "Shepardize" a citation or use KeyCite. See the tab on this guide called "Citator" for more information.

NOTE: Not all opinions are published and trial court opinions are seldom published.

STATUTORY LAW consists of the acts of legislatures.  The statute is the wording of the law as it was passed. The code of laws is a subject arrangement of the statutes.

REGULATORY LAW or regulations are written by executive agencies to establish the rules and detailed procedures needed to administer statutory laws.  The federal government publishes all regulations in the Federal Register, along with proposed rules, notices, and other materials. The regulations are collected, rearranged by subject, and published in the Code of Federal Regulations.

The following terms are used to describe regulations: rule, administrative law, delegated legislation, and sublegislation.

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