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Florida Legal Research: Conducting Legal Research

Guide for researching legal resources specifically related to Florida.

Legal Research

US Reporters

Due to the fluidity of the law, it is important that students learn to research the most up to date laws and apply them to day-to-day legal issues that can arise in their profession. Legal research is one of the most fundamental aspects of lawyering and is essential to properly approach almost any legal matter. A separate Legal Research Library Guide was created to ensure you are knowledgeable on the most important aspects involved in conducting efficient legal research.

Primary vs. Secondary Authority

Primary authorities are laws, decisions, or regulations issued by a government entity (e.g. - a court, legislature, or executive agency).There are three main sources of primary authority - Case Law, Statutory Law, and Administrative Law. These authorities are referred to as primary sources because they are binding on courts, governments, and individuals; and, they are the strongest arguments that can be presented when confronting a legal issue. 

Secondary authorities provide in-depth analysis, discussions, and explanations on particular areas of law. Secondary authorities, also known as secondary sources, can be found in the form of treatises, law reviews, annotations, restatements, legal newspapers, journals, and articles.   Where primary authority is binding, secondary authority may be persuasive, but it is not dispositive. That is, the courts may or may not choose to follow a given secondary authority at their own discretion.

When conducting legal research, if you are beginning with an unfamiliar topic, it is recommended you begin by researching the central topic using secondary sources. Utilizing secondary sources will give you a vast array of information that will direct you towards related key terms, other useful secondary sources, and primary authorities that can strengthen your legal arguments. 

Again, the Legal Research Library Guide will direct you to the different types of primary and secondary research materials available to you. Utilize this guide and the included available legal resources to discover what research process works most effectively for you! 

Legal Research Databases


Lexis Advance:

Lexis Advance is one of the top legal research databases provided to NSU Florida law students during their law school careers. Search Lexis Advance to access case law, statutes, regulations, secondary sources, practice aids, and other legal information materials. Search the Lexis Advance Florida State Materials to find Florida cases and secondary materials.



Westlaw Next:

Westlaw Next is a premier online legal research database provided to NSU Florida law students for the duration of their law school career, and up to 18 months after their graduation date. Use Westlaw Next to search the over 40,000 databases of case law, statutes, treatises, journal articles and other information sources. Search Westlaw Next Florida State Materials to find Florida cases and secondary materials.

Bloomberg Law




Search Novacat, NSU's library catalog, to find a variety of resources to suit your research needs! Our full gamut of books, media, periodicals, and electronic resources provided by all NSU libraries may be searched to provide you with the most relevant resources available at NSU. If you find a needed resource available at another library, you are more than welcome to visit our neighboring libraries; or, you can make an inter-library loan request and have that item delivered directly to your door! If you are unsure of how to submit an inter-library loan request, NSU provides an inter-library loan guide to assist you with submitting your request.

Search the Catalog (NovaCat):

E-Books | Advanced Search My Library Account 


Search results not what you're looking for? Feel free to explore NSU's many databases to widen your search net! NSU subscribes to over 500 databases in over 50 different subject areas. Browse by subject or material type to find relevant information related to your research needs.


Can't find what you're looking for on Novacat? Expand your search using WorldCat, a global catalog that provides library listings from over 72,000 libraries and 170 countries.


Search for an item in libraries near you: >>


If the materials are not offered digitally, feel free to fill out an Inter-Library Loan Request on ILLIAD and we will attempt to have those materials delivered directly to your door!

Finding the Answers to Legal Questions