Each month, the AACPLL Blog will publish a post with helpful legal research tips. If you would like more information about any of the tips referenced in this post or series, please feel free to contact the Law Library!
January is one of the Law Library’s busiest months for updating resources, including updating pocket parts and filing supplemental pages. As you are conducting your legal research, it is essential that you make sure that your sources, both primary (e.g., code, regulations, case law) and secondary (e.g., treatises, form books) are up-to-date because the “law” is constantly changing. The onus is on the legal researcher to make sure their information is current.
Here are a few helpful tips for making sure that your resource is up-to-date.
- Check the cover or title page to determine the publication date of the resource. The publication date will provide clues as to whether you should check to see if a later edition of the resource has been published.
- Check the pocket part and take note of the date of the pocket part. Pocket parts are paper supplements that are generally located inside the back cover of a hardbound volume. If you are not sure if the pocket part is current, please drop by the service desk. The Law Library keeps track of its updates, and we can let you know if the pocket part is the most recent supplement available.
- Check for any standalone supplements to the resource. When in doubt, ask us at the Law Library’s service desk, and we can confirm whether a volume has a standalone supplement.
- Online does not necessarily mean current. Is the information posted on a reputable site? Check for a publication date or “last updated” date. When in doubt, ask!
Here are some great resources that provide an overview of the basics of legal research.
- Maryland State Law Library’s How-To Guides
- Nolo’s Encyclopedia of Everyday Law
- Thurgood Marshall Law Library Guide to Legal Research
In addition, the following titles, which focus on providing a comprehensive overview of the legal research process and fundamentals, are available at the Law Library.