Researching Municipal Law

One area of law that we generally don’t have much time to cover in our first year legal research classes is local legislation.  Municipal ordinances govern much of what we do on an everyday basis–from parking to pets to zoning–and is important to keep in mind when you’re doing legal research.  Some of these municipal codes are available on Westlaw and Lexis, but the majority of them are available for free on the municipality’s website.  Googling Provo City Code, for example, will give you the laws passed and in effect in Provo (and can show me what authority a police officer has to ticket my car if I’m parked half-way in my driveway and halfway on the sidewalk).  A good introduction to local legislation is the short piece, Enact Locally, by Mary Whisner a law librarian from the University of Washington.  Take a look and get familiar with this area of law you may have to research this summer.

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