Not ANOTHER !?$#@ Law Question?!: Reference Strategies for Business Librarians


BRASS Program, ALA Annual Conference, July 10, 2000

A Brief List of Basic Legal Reference Materials
for Public Libraries

Uri Toch
Corporate and Small Business Liaison
Schaumburg Illinois Township District Library

Please note that the following was prepared by David E. Bender, Librarian for the William D. Brock Memorial Law Library, Lake County Courthouse, Waukegan, IL. We appreciate his contribution and believe this assistance highlights a central theme of our talk-"innovation through cooperation." Some of the titles are focused on the state of Illinois, but generally there are similar publications for all states. I have included materials related to my talk as the second part of this bibliography under the title A LIBRARIAN'S GUIDE TO LEGAL RESEARCH.

Introduction | Primary Sources | Reference Materials | IICLE Materials | "Luxury" Materials

A Librarian's Guide to Legal Research
One-Volume Legal Dictionaries | Legal Encyclopedias | Directories of Attorneys
Regulations | Laws | Guides to the Law | Taxes | Websites


The following is far from comprehensive and not meant to be an exhaustive bibliography of what a library should contain. The books listed would form the cornerstone of the collection: the solid, definitive works that people with specific legal questions would wish to consult; as opposed to the "softer" materials that a student would use for a civic class report.

Attention is also paid to the affordability of the products. There are a host of products that would be a valuable asset for any library, such as the Illinois Decisions, United States code Annotated, and Illinois Law and Practice; but the cost of these products is too prohibitive for many Public Libraries. The products listed are well within the budgetary constraints of all Libraries.

Furthermore, aside from the Illinois Complied Statutes, this list does not mention the works that most libraries will most likely already have, such as the Martindale-Hubbell Directory or Black's Law Dictionary.

The first section lists primary materials, such as actual codes or sections of the Code. The second section lists several items that fit the traditional reference material mold. The third section is a listing of materials from the Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education (IICLE). Although published primarily to facilitate the obligatory continuing educational requisites of the legal profession, this series of practice manuals explains Illinois law and gives "how-to" procedures, as well as some forms used in those procedures. Cases are also cited throughout the discussions. The books are presented in "loose-leaf binder" form, and can be updated through subscription.

The fourth section is a listing of "luxury" sources; sets that would be an excellent addition to any library's collection, but more costly than the average library might care to spend.

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Illinois Complied Statutes, State Bar Association Edition , West Group
Simply put, the Illinois Complied Statutes are the laws of the land. It is the set of books that contain the laws and acts that govern the State of Illinois. Published biannually and updated with a supplement, the Illinois Compiled Statutes is the cornerstone of any library's legal collection.

Illinois Court Rules and Procedure , West Group
A two-volume set published annually, these books contain the current text of statutes and court rules governing state and federal practice in Illinois, including amendments received through April of the year of publication.

Moore's Federal Rules Pamphlets , Matthew Bender
A 4-volume paperback set, Moore's is a condensed guide to practice in the Federal Court system. Subject matter covered in this set include the following areas: Evidence, Judicial code, Criminal, and Civil and Appellate rules and procedure.

West's Illinois Criminal Law and Procedure , West Group
Criminal Law and Procedure for the State of Illinois. This slice of the Illinois Code was formerly known as Chapter 38, and some may refer to it by that name.

West's Illinois Family Laws and Court Rules , West Group
This book is an extraction of Illinois Family Law from the Illinois Complied Statutes. It covers important Acts as well as Procedures and Illinois Supreme Court Rules as they apply to family law. Published Annually.

West's Illinois Probate Act and Related Laws , West Group
Published annually, this book lists Illinois law pertaining to the probate courts, trusts, estates, gift taxes, wills, organ donorship, living wills, etc.

West's Illinois Vehicle Code , West Group
The Vehicle Code is the compendium of traffic laws for the State of Illinois. Take note, more serious "traffic" offenses are found in the Criminal code; i.e., DUI, vehicular homicide, etc.

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Federal Tax Guide , CCH Incorporated
An authoritative income tax guide, this loose-leaf service is a concise source that explains federal income, estate and gift, payroll and selected excise taxes, and points out tax savings and tax planning opportunities. This service is updated on a monthly basis.

Illinois Criminal Law , Lexis/Michie
This two-volume set is a comprehensive examination of Illinois criminal offensives, and the complementary defenses available to those offenses.

Illinois Domestic Relations Forms , Lexis/Michie
This volume makes an excellent companion to the IICLE Family Law publication. The IICLE set is an excellent guide to law and procedure in the area of family law, but this volume is by far the most complete set of forms for Illinois family law.

Illinois Practice , West Group
Illinois Practice is an 8-volume set outlining practice and procedure for all major practice areas in Illinois. Specific volumes include the Uniform Commercial Code, Criminal Procedure, Civil Procedure, and Business Organizations.

The Internet Guide for Illinois Lawyers , IICLE
This is a great source for Internet resources of a legal nature. Much of the book is devoted to assisting the legal profession make full use of available modern media, but it has much to offer anyone doing legal research. Includes government sites.

Sullivan's Law Directory , Law Bulletin Publishing Company
Sullivan's is best known as a directory of attorneys. Volume two of this two-volume set, however, contains a wealth of official information- state and federal government officials, jurisdictional maps, court rules, etc. Attorneys in volume one are listed alphabetically, first those in Cook County, then all others, listed by cities and towns alphabetically. Listings include areas of practice.

U.S. Master Tax Guide , CCH Incorporated
While smaller than the Federal Tax Guide, each [annual] edition reflects all federal tax law changes that affect the current year's return. It also contains rate schedules, tables, and other helpful tools in preparing income tax returns.

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Bankruptcy Practice , 2 volumes
Bankruptcy practice is a very complicated area, and the laws governing this procedure are being re-written even as we speak. In light of the sea changes going in this area of practice, this set will undoubtedly be revised in the near future.

Basic Real Estate Practice , 2 volumes
This set has procedure, commentary, and forms for all aspect of real estate practice in Illinois. Topics include basic sales agreements, escrow, insurance, easements, mortgage foreclosure, and real estate in bankruptcy proceedings.

Defending DUI
Unfortunately DUI is too prevalent of an offense, and this volume will be used quite heavily. It is the definitive work for DUI law in Illinois.

Employment Discrimination
This book examines discrimination law on both the Federal and State levels. Types of discrimination discussed include age, sex, race, disability, religious, and national origin. The last section in the book discusses how employers can minimize discrimination risks.

Employment Termination
This book provides an overview of the substantive law that may be involved in an employment termination case. Other important workplace issues such as AIDS, drug testing, and other privacy issues are also discussed.

Estate Planning Forms and Commentary
Complete source for wills, trusts, and other estate planning materials. Comes with a set of diskettes containing all of the forms in various word processor formats.

Family Law , 3 volumes.
This is the single most used set of books in the Law Library. All aspects of family law are covered in this set: divorce, custody, child support, adoption, care of elderly parents, and so much more.

Illinois Workers' Compensation Practice
Workers' Compensation cases are not handled in the regular court system, but rather are in the purview of the Industrial Commission. This volume examines all aspects of the occurrence of injuries and how to move the claim through the system.

Representing Residential Tenants
Subjects in this book include leases, discrimination, evictions, lockouts, government rental programs, and security deposits.

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American Jurisprudence: Pleading and Practice Forms , West Group
71 volumes in size, this is the most comprehensive and most detailed set of form books one could get for any library. To illustrate the level of detail found in this set, one patron found a copy of the form used to file a personal injury suit when one is injured by an automatic door at the grocery store.

Collier Bankruptcy Manual , Matthew Bender
This three-volume set is one of the best-known titles for bankruptcy information. With the increasing number of bankruptcies being filed, in conjunction with the ongoing changes in bankruptcy law, a set as comprehensive as Collier would be an excellent addition to any library's collection.

Illinois Law & Practice , West Group
45+ volumes in size and arranged like an encyclopedia, this set is the best practice guide for law in Illinois. Unlike Nicholl's below which covers only civil law, all areas of law are covered in this set.

Nicholl's Illinois Civil Practice , West Group
10 volumes in length, this set is an excellent practice guide for Illinois civil law. This set is generally considered the best resource for civil law in Illinois.

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Black's Law Dictionary

Ballentine's Law Dictionary

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Guide to American Law
Easy to use, popular source for background information on legal concepts, landmark cases and key figures.

American Jurisprudence 2d
Comprehensive legal encyclopedia containing short summaries of cases and citations to cases.

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Martindale-Hubbard Law Directory
National (and international) directory of lawyers.

Also try your State or local Bar Association.
Many states will also have a state directory of attorneys.

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Federal Register
Daily update of federal regulations.

Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.)
Listing of all federal regulations.

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United States Code Congressional and Administrative News (U.S.C.C.A.N.)

United States Code Annotated (U.S.C.A.)

United States Code Service (U.S.C.S.)

Your local state statutes.
Your local community code.

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Nutshells are usually written by an authority in an area of law. They are "quick & dirty" guides to the law, very general and very condensed, but a good overview to various legal topics.

Continuing Legal Education materials are frequently published by many states from their C.L.E. programs. They provide step-by-step practical information to various legal topics, from estate planning to corporation law.

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CCH Standard Federal Tax Reporter (Commerce Clearing House)

Federal Tax Coordinator (Research Institute of America)

State Tax Guide (Commerce Clearing House)

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LibrarySpot The Online Power of Law

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bullet Not ANOTHER !?$#@ Law Question?!: Reference Strategies for Business Librarians
BRASS Program, ALA Annual Conference, July 10, 2000

Disclaimer: This publication has been placed on the web for the convenience of BRASS members. Information and links will not be updated. Posted 9 August 2000.