Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law

Law Library

Basic Legal Resources


Legal Abbreviations

Bieber's Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations
. This source provides extensive coverage of common as well as obscure abbreviations. Reserve KF246.B45

Uniform System of Citation (commonly know as the Blue Book). A widely used standard that provides the form by which sources are generally cited, it includes tables of abbreviations. Reserve KF245.U5


Legal Encyclopedias

These are multi-volume sets providing textual discussion of legal matters together with footnote citations to relevant cases. The Topic Analysis is an outline/index at the beginning of each topic or subject. The pocket part in back is a supplement providing current cases and notes.

Corpus Juris Secundum (CJS) Core KF154.C56

American Jurisprudence (AmJur)
AmJur (first edition) Core KF154.A4
AmJur2d (second edition) Core KF154.A42


Legal Definitions

Black's Law Dictionary
Reserve & Ref KF156.B53
This book provides basic legal definitions.

Commonly Used Terms
The most common legal terms defined from the U.S. Courts website.

Words and Phrases Core KF156.W67
This set provides an alphabetical arrangement of legal and non-legal terms as defined by courts in the context of case proceedings; case citations are provided.

Wex is a collaboratively-created, public-access law dictionary and encyclopedia. It is sponsored and hosted by the Legal Information Institute at the Cornell Law School.


Case Digests

These are topical indexes used to locate cases.

Using the Descriptive Word Index leads to a specific TOPIC and KEY NUMBER in the digest. To search the index, try identifying key words and/or pertinent facts of the case.

The Topic and Key Number identifies a specific point of law. Topic volumes are arranged alphabetically, similar to an encyclopedia. This system is uniform across all jurisdictions covered by West.

The Table of Cases, generally volumes at the end of the Digest set, lists cases by name in alphabetical order and provides cites to case reporters. Knowing the name of either the plaintiff (first named party) or the defendant (the second name, after "v.") can lead to a full case citation in the Table.


Case Reporters

Digests cite to reporters. Cases are reported in full in various reporters which are usually distinguished by geography or level of jurisdiction.

  • The text of a case in an official reporter is identical to that in an unofficial reporter. For reading a case, one is not better than another.
  • Unofficial reports are those published without legislative or judicial authority. These are often commercial or private publications.
Supreme Court

United States Reports (U.S.) - official reporter
Core KF101.A2

Supreme Court Reporter (S.Ct.) - unofficial reporter
Core & Reserve Rdg Rm KF101.A33-.A331

Lawyers Edition (L.Ed./L.Ed 2d) - unofficial reporter
L.Ed. - Core KF101.A32
L.Ed. 2d - Core KF101.A321

Also check U.S. Law Week for very recent cases.
Reserve KF175.U5.

Digest to use:
Supreme Court Digest Core KF101.1 .A33

Federal Courts

For U.S. Courts of Appeals cases:
Federal Reporter (F/F2d/F3d)
Core KF105.F43-.F431

For U.S. District Court cases:
Federal Supplement (F.Supp.)
Core KF120.F43-.F431

Digests to use:
Federal Practice Digest
Modern Federal Practice Digest
Core KF127

State Courts

State court cases are reported in regional and state reports and have digests to assist in identifying cases. Regional digests are located at the end of the reporter set.

Regional Reporters
Atlantic (A) KF135.A7A8-A81
North Eastern (NE) KF135.N6N6-N61
North Western (NW) KF135.N7N6-N61
Pacific (P) KF135.P2P3-P31
South Eastern (SE) KF135.S6S6-S61
South Western (SW) KF135.S7S6-S61
Southern (So) KF135.S8S6-S61


Arizona Reports (Ariz) KFA2445.A2
Arizona Digest KFA2457.A7

Other States

Current California and New York reporters are located in the Core; however, their digests are located on the 3rd floor in the State Collection with the other state reporters and digests. Check the online catalog for date coverage as most state reporters are no longer kept current.



Located on the Index Tables in the Main Reading Room, Shepard's Citations provides a means by which any reported case (cited decision) may be checked to see when and how another court (the citing decision) has treated the first decision.

A second set of Shepard's Arizona Citations is located in the Reserve Reading Room KFA2459.S53.

California and New York citators are located at the end of the case reporter sets in the Core. Other state citators are located in the State Collection on the 3rd floor; however, check the online catalog to determine whether the citator is kept current.


Journal Articles

Law journals and reviews are arranged alphabetically by title on the 2nd floor in the Northwest wing. Current issues are in Reserve.

LegalTrac, an online database located on the terminals in the Main Reading Room, provides quick access to articles by subject or topic. Other online databases for searching journal articles are LexisNexis Academic and the Index to Legal Periodicals Retrospective.


Laws, Statutes, and Codes


Laws passed by Congress are codified (systematically arranged by subject) in the U.S. Code. For finding a law identified by a popular name, see the last volume of the Index of the U.S. Code Annotated, which contains the Popular Name Table. A popular name table is also located in Shepard's Acts and Cases by Popular Name (Reserve KF90.S52).

United States Code Annotated (U.S.C.A.)
Core & Reserve Rdg Rm KF62.1927.W45

United States Code Service (U.S.C.S.)
Core KF62.1972.L38

For the uncodified version of laws, see United States Statutes at Large (STAT)
Core KF50.U5

A source for recent laws and legislative history is the United States Code Congressional and Administrative News
Core KF48.U52


For state legislation, use the codes or statutes of that state. Also consult the Legislative Service for recently passed legislation not included in the pocket part supplements. These are usually located at the end of a state's statute set.

Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) KFA2430.1956.A2
Located in the Core, on Reserve, in the Reserve Reading Room, and in the State Collection on the 3rd floor.

Other states' laws or codes are located in the State Collection on the 3rd floor. States are arranged alphabetically.




Consult the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Check the index volume by the name of the agency which regulates the activity; then locate the subject.

For more recent or proposed regulations, consult the monthly subject index to the Federal Register (FR).

The current year's CFR and FR are located on the Government Documents Index Table in the Main Reading Room.


For Arizona regulations, consult theArizona Administrative Code  in Reserve KFA2435.1974.A23. These are arranged by agency. There is a separate index volume. Remember to consult the prior set for anything not included in the current set and the Arizona Administrative Register  for updates.


Using the Online Catalog to Locate Items

See the handout Welcome to the ASU Library Catalog for assistance in searching for items at the Law Library as well as the entire University Libraries' collection.

Please note that the catalog will not indicate whether a Law Library item can be checked out. Generally books in a series or in looseleaf binders cannot be checked out, nor can journals.


Locations of Materials Listed in this Guide

- this is the collection behind the Circulation counter. You will need your ASU ID or some form of photo identification to check out material for use in the library only.

Core - the collection in the Main Reading Room's tall book ranges; this material may not be checked out.

Index Tables - in the Main Reading Room, these are the wooden tables with bookshelves running the length of them.

Reference - also in the Main Reading Room, these are the low white book ranges just beyond the Index Tables.

Reserve Reading Room - located to the left upon entering the Main Reading Room, the entrance is under the stairs.

State Collection - located on the 3rd floor, this area is accessible only from the West end of the Law Library (via elevator and stairwell).

For more information on collection locations throughout the building, please refer to our Collection Locations and Law Library Floor Plans pages.

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