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May 26, 2015

WSLL Recommends: Legal Research in Wisconsin

In a library full of multi-volume treatises the smaller books can sometimes get overlooked. Such is the case with Legal research in Wisconsin, by Theodore A. Potter (former State Law Librarian Jane Colwin was also a contributor).

The first two chapters give a concise overview of the history and structure of the Wisconsin Court System, published and unpublished opinions, and case research. The rest of the book includes chapters on statutory research, legislative histories, court rules, administrative law, local laws, and the Wisconsin Constitution.

What's invaluable about this book is the comprehensive coverage information for each type of legal authority source. This book is frequently used for its detailed information about where historical sources of the law are published or archived.

For example, the chapter on statutory research includes title variations and date ranges for older versions of the statutes and their accompanying materials. These references can be very helpful when digging into an older history question. Has it been a while since you researched a Wisconsin Court Order from a statute's history note? Start with this book to learn how those are created and where to find the background materials.

Pair this volume with Wisconsin legal research. Written by law librarians Patricia Cervenka and Leslie Behroozi, this book provides an overview of basic sources and strategies on the Wisconsin Constitution, Statutes and court rules, administrative law, and case law. Published in 2011, this book has more information on recent online access to law sources, including popular databases like Westlaw and HeinOnline.

The next time you need to step outside of your research comfort zone, turn to one of these books to get up to speed quickly on your topic and find the sources you need fast.

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