1. Introduction to Federal Legislation

2. Bills

3. Legislative Research

Federal Legislation – Research Step Two: Determine the relevant legislation

The next step is to figure out the particular legislation which governs your legal question. The problem may specify the relevant bill, statute, or regulation. In most cases, however, determining the applicable legislation will be an integral part of your research.

Keyword Searches

One option is to conduct keyword searches in an electronic database or source of the subject-matter you are researching. This is, however, usually a time-consuming and inefficient strategy. Unless you have a very narrowly defined legal subject, you might spend a substantial amount of time trying to locate legislation dealing with your research topic. You will also be required to sift through a large number of results. Furthermore, some areas of law are simply are not regulated by statute (for example, many areas of tort law), a conclusion which you may not reach before spending hours of valuable time and after performing numerous keyword searches.

Secondary Sources

Remember your basic research strategies: secondary sources will normally specify the relevant legislation involved in a given situation and will tell you quickly whether the area of law is even regulated by statute in the first place. In addition, recently published secondary sources may also reveal whether there is a bill making its way through the legislative process that might apply to the question you are investigating!
As you will see below, it is fairly easy to locate legislation if you have either its title or citation. It is as simple as entering the statute title or citation into a search field or browsing an alphabetical listing.
Efficient and effective legislative research therefore requires preliminary research as one of your initial steps!