Case Law refers to judicial opinions, the written decision of a judge deciding a lawsuit between two parties. Since much of the American legal system is dictated by the precedence of common law, researching case law is a critical component of legal research.
The Legislative branch of government creates laws in the form of statutes which are then signed into law by the head of the executive branch. There are local, state and federal statutes. Knowing which jurisdiction your issue falls under will determine which set of statutes you should consult.
The Executive branch of the government creates laws in the form of Administrative rules and regulations. These regulations are put forth with statutory authority by the government agency in charge of that area of law (for example the Internal Revenue Code is promulgated by the Treasury Department.) As with legislation, administrative regulations are created at the both the state and federal level.
Secondary Resources are often the best place to start legal research because they contain analysis and commentary on the law. A secondary resource essentially “explains” an area of law. Secondary resources will also contain citations to applicable primary resources. Examples of secondary resources include:
Electronic resources - The law library subscribes to a wide array of electronic resources to help with your research. Most can be accessed from off campus with your Widener ID card. To get off-campus access you must follow the link to the resource from the library. You will be prompted for your name and the barcode number from the back of your ID.