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U.S. Research: Introduction

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Off Campus Access

For more information on how to access subscription digital resources from off campus, go to the Off Campus Access to Digital Resources page.

General Information

This guide is designed to provide researchers with a quick introduction to reliable sources of legal information. The emphasis is on publically available, free resources.

The subscription resources are clearly marked.  All of the selected subscription resources listed are available to library patrons within the library. Access to these resources from off-campus is limited to RWU School of Law students, faculty and staff.

Introductory Sources

Mandatory / Persuasive Authority

Mandatory vs Persuasive Authority

The lines of arrows on this chart illustrate the basic structure of and relationship between the federal and state court systems. The arrows point to the courts which must follow the higher court’s decisions.

  • Federal courts can only issue mandatory decisions on federal issues.
  • State courts can only issue mandatory decisions on state issues.
  • All other decisions are persuasive for other courts, but are not mandatory.
  • The higher the level of the court, the more persuasive its decisions may be to those other courts.
  • Decisions of courts of equal level are generally only persuasive to each other.

U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals

US Circuit Courts of Appeals

How Our Law are Made

How Our Laws are Made

A guide to the legislative process by John V. Sullivan, the Parliamentarian of the United States House of Representatives.

How Our Laws Are Made

Interlibrary Loan

Need to obtain an item not in the Law Library or University Library collections or online?  Use the Law Library's Interlibrary Loan service!