Specialized Legal Research – Statutory and Regulatory Law

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Creighton J. Miller, Jr.
Barbara Ginzburg
Washburn University
School of Law Library
1700 SW College Ave.
Topeka, KS 66621

During the Summer 2012 semester, we team-taught LW949—Specialized Legal Research: Statutory and Regulatory Law, a one-credit, upper-level elective meant to address legislative and administrative research topics that often receive little coverage in first-year research and writing courses. To meet the time limitations of a one-credit class and a compressed summer schedule, we focused narrowly on the federal administrative rule-making process and on the enabling statutes that give rule-making authority to federal agencies. As a final class project, each student prepared a "research dossier" compiling the primary sources and interpretive materials connected with a federal regulation of the student's own choice. 

As our contribution to this teach-in kit, we are providing some of the materials that we prepared for use in the class. We hope these will prove useful as a starting point for future instructors, both those teaching similar courses and those covering administrative, statutory, or legislative history research in other contexts.

Materials Included:

1) Course Syllabus 
2) Quiz 1 -- A pre-test given prior to introducing administrative law research; designed to remind students of information from their first-year research and writing class and to alert them to various administrative research concepts.
3) Class Project -- The assigning document for the research dossier that served as the final project for the class. 
4) Research Strategies & Tactics Presentation -- An introductory PowerPoint on themes that inform the practice of legal research: research as a process, making use of value-added tools (indexing, cross-references, citations, etc.), and time/cost efficiencies.
5) Administrative Law Presentation -- A brief, non-technical overview of administrative law; focused primarily on the process of informal rule-making.
6) U.S. Administrative Law & Presidential Documents Checklist -- A fairly comprehensive listing of federal administrative research sources with information on and how/where each can be found and accessed; intended as a general reference that students can consult as needed.
7) Code of Federal Regulations Presentation -- A presentation introducing the structure and basic use of the CFR.
8) Statutes Presentation -- A PowerPoint designed to accompany an introductory lecture on the process of statutory publication.
9) Statutes Checklist/Handout -- A list of critical federal statutory sources in various formats and the locations where they can be found; also provides introductory material on interpreting statute citations. 
10) Example Statutes Presentation -- A series of imaginary federal statutes that demonstrate how statutes  evolve through the process of publication and subsequent amendment; includes session law and codified versions of: a Public Law on an Original Topic, a Public Law Amending Earlier Public Law, a Public Law Amending an Existing Code Section, a Public Law Enacting a Code Title as Positive Law, a Public Law Directly Amending a Positive Law Code Title, and a Freestanding Public Law Affecting a Positive Law Code Title. 
11) Federal Legislative History Checklist -- A fairly comprehensive listing of federal legislative history research sources with information on and how/where each can be found and accessed; intended as a general reference that students can consult as needed.
12) Methods for Compiling Legislative History Materials -- A moderately successful attempt to explain the purpose of various legislative history tools; highlights the distinction between collections of specific legislative history documents (e.g., bills, hearings, reports), indexing tools, and sources for comprehensive legislative histories.