Compared with other states, Florida makes a relatively broad array of legal documents readily available online. Many questions can be answered by searching through a few key websites. Some of these websites are listed below and on the subsequent pages of this guide.
The Florida Supreme Court Law has a set of guides on their website which also provide a helpful overview to the process of researching Florida Legislative History. Available on the site are PowerPoint slides and handouts detailing the research processing using both online and traditional resources.
The secondary sources below are very often the best places to start when researching an unfamiliar corner of the law. The sources listed below will offer digested overviews of various legal topics. Not only are they helpful for providing a succinct introduction to a topic, but they can also be mined for citations for additional resources and keywords for future database searches.
When researching Florida law specifically, this legal encyclopedia will be preferable to the national encyclopedias (Corpus Juris Secundum or American Jurisprudence (Second). The articles will give an overview, but will also provide case, statute, and other relevant citations. The encyclopedia is available in hard copy at most Florida law libraries and digitally on Westlaw.
Florida Law Reviews
Consulting law review articles is a good idea for getting more in-depth analysis of a niche topic. Often, the journals published by the law schools within the state will lean heavily upon selecting articles discussing issues relevant to Florida.
When using articles, it’s important to evaluate the authoritativeness of the article. Try to check whether the author is an established scholar in the field. Typically the credentials of the author can be found in the first footnote. Additionally, it’s worth checking whether the article has been cited elsewhere. The year of publication is also important, as older articles may have been superseded by changes in the law.
The easiest way to search for relevant articles is through a database such as Westlaw or Lexis. Journals are also available in hard copy at most libraries.
Other Legal Periodicals
Other periodicals, such as the Florida Bar Journal, Florida Bar News, or Trial Advocate Quarterly may also be useful sources of articles discussing Florida legal issues. The authorship of articles for these periodicals varies widely, which may mean that these are not the best legal authorities to rely upon. Still, they can introduce a researcher to a topic and may help in locating other sources and are particularly useful for getting recent updates on the latest changes to Florida law. The Florida Bar Journal can be found in Westlaw and Lexis.