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A paralegal is a person, qualified by education, training or work experience, who is employed or retained by a lawyer, law office, corporation, governmental agency or other entity who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for a lawyer.


A little organization can help make the research process a little less daunting.


  • What are you researching?
  • Are you interested in local, state or federal law?
  • Statue, Regulation, or Court Case?
  • Do you need primary or secondary sources?
    • Primary sources: the law itself (Constitutions, Statutory Laws; Case Law; Administrative Law
    • Secondary sources: analyze, editorialize, summarize, or comment on the law


Primary Sources: 

Primary legal sources are the actual law in the form of constitutions, court cases, statutes, and administrative rules and regulations.

Look for Statutes! What is a Statute? The word statute refers to a law passed by a state legislature or the U.S. Congress that commands, prohibits, or declares something. It is sometimes called legislation.

Secondary Sources: 

In legal research, secondary sources refer to a variety of resources that explain, interpret, and analyze primary sources. They include legal dictionaries, encyclopedias, law reviews, American Law Reports, treatises, restatements, and jury instructions. Secondary sources are a great way to start research and often have citations to highly relevant primary sources.

Secondary sources are not law, and as such are not mandatory authority. They are always persuasive authority. Persuasive authority can be used to support a legal position or argument, and courts may choose to consider it when deciding an issue. However, it is not mandatory that they do so

Where to Search

  • Internet - While a good starting point, the internet is typically not appropriate to refer to in your research. Verify the information you find through either the legal databases or printed legal treatise.
  • Legal Databases -  The RCBC Library provides access to Westlaw and HeinOnline. You will need an activated library barcode to access these databases.
  • Printed Legal Treatise (aka books) - The RCBC Library has a number of both physical printed material and also ebooks for checkout. See the Find Books tab in this guide for a selected list of books available.

Library Services

  • Research assistance - help finding sources, evaluating sources

  • Online workshops for citing and plagiarism are held throughout the semester. To request a citing workshop, please email