Legal Research

Online Research Resources

Barco Databases
A-Z list of legal databases for online legal research; available to Pitt Law students, faculty and staff.

PittCat+ Summon, find books and articles in the University Library System.

The online catalog for the University of Pittsburgh Library System. Search for and find books, journals, government documents, and other library materials.

ULS Databases A-Z
Hundreds of databases available from the University of Pittsburgh Libraries, in all academic fields including law. Available to University of Pittsburgh students, faculty and staff.

Bloomberg Law from Bloomberg BNA
The Bloomberg Law database, including the Bloomberg BNA news service, is available to Pitt Law students, faculty and staff. Password required.

The LexisNexis database for Pitt Law students, faculty and staff. Password required.

The Westlaw database for Pitt Law students, faculty and staff. Password required.

Law Weblinks

Research Guides

Research by Jurisdiction

Researching the law of foreign countries and the international community of national governments requires careful thinking about who might create or organize information about a particular place or topic. The following list categorizes and links to reliable current providers of information:

Reference Sources
answer short factual research questions. Use them to find and convey fundamental details.
dictionaries - abbreviations - research guides - more…
Foreign Law
Governments publish their statutes, administrative rules, and judicial decisions with diverse systems and limitations. Learn the government’s structure and publications and you will know where to look for law sources.
cases - legislation - source leads - more…
Private international law
is the law made by multiple national governments agreeing to recognize and enforce private transactions made between citizens of their separate countries.
UNCITRAL - UNIDROIT - Hague conf. - more…
International agreements
also known as “treaties”, “conventions”, and “covenants”, are the fundamental primary sources of international law. Written by representatives of multiple governments, they generally attain legal effect when countries ratify them as components of their national codes.
Hein Online - UN - EISIL - search tips - more…
International tribunals
decide disputes arising under international law. Tribunal research requires analytical thinking about a tribunal’s mission and methods as well as reading its publications.
ICJ - EU - Perm. Ct. Arb. - Int. Arbitration Awards - more…
U.S. International & Foreign Sources
The U.S. government publishes information about U.S. foreign policy, international agreements in preparation and in force, and foreign countries.
State Dep’t issues - State Dep’t Legal Advisor - more…
International organizations
produce and publish international and comparative law and policy as well as thorough research studies.
intergovernmental (IGO) - non-governmental (NGO)
Journal articles
contain analytical and explanatory coverage of emerging legal questions.
Legal Trac - Oxford - Kluwer - Hein Online - more…
News Sources
News sources have clues and vocabulary to help you identify people, organizations, and documents connected with legal issues. Use the clues and vocabulary to identify and search in other types of sources.
International Judicial Monitor - ASIL Insights - Foreign Affairs - more…

Executive Branch

President, Vice-President, Cabinet
The Library of Congress provides links to all the webpages of the executive office, the Cabinet and its agencies.
The White House
A virtual tour of the White House including links to the people and events inside.
The Code of Federal Regulations
The National Archives provides full text of federal regulations, the laws enacted by agencies of the executive branch.
Presidential Proclamations and Executive Orders
The president exercises his authority primarily through the issuance of proclamations and executive orders.
The Federal Register
Published by the Office of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), the Federal Register is the official daily publication for rules, proposed rules, and notices of Federal agencies and organizations, as well as executive orders and other presidential documents.

Judicial Branch

Supreme Court of the United States
The official site of the highest court in the land, including the current docket and opinions
U.S. Courts of Appeals
The 94 U.S. judicial districts are organized into 12 regional circuits, each of which has a United States court of appeals. A court of appeals hears appeals from the district courts located within its circuit, as well as appeals from decisions of federal administrative agencies.
United States Circuit Courts
The United States district courts are the trial courts of the federal court system. The district courts have jurisdiction to hear nearly all categories of federal cases, including both civil and criminal matters. There are 94 federal judicial districts, including at least one district in each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Three territories of the United States -- the Virgin Islands, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands -- have district courts that hear federal cases, including bankruptcy cases.
United States Bankruptcy Courts
Each of the 94 federal judicial districts handles bankruptcy matters, and in almost all districts, bankruptcy cases are filed in the bankruptcy court. Bankruptcy cases cannot be filed in state court. Bankruptcy laws help people who can no longer pay their creditors get a fresh start by liquidating their assets to pay their debts, or by creating a repayment plan.
U.S. Tax Court
Congress has created several Article I or legislative courts that do not have full judicial power. The Tax Court provides a judicial forum in which affected persons can dispute tax deficiencies determined by the Commissioner of Internal Revenue prior to payment of the disputed amounts. The jurisdiction of the Tax Court includes the authority to hear tax disputes concerning notices of deficiency, notices of transferee liability, certain types of declaratory judgment, readjustment and adjustment of partnership items, review of the failure to abate interest, administrative costs, worker classification, relief from joint and several liability on a joint return, and review of certain collection actions.
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces
Congress has created several Article I or legislative courts that do not have full judicial power. The United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces exercises worldwide appellate jurisdiction over members of the armed forces on active duty and other persons subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The Court is composed of five civilian judges appointed for 15-year terms by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate.
U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans
Congress has created several Article I or legislative courts that do not have full judicial power. The Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims has exclusive jurisdiction to provide judicial review of final decisions by the Board of Veterans' Appeals, an entity within the Department of Veterans Affairs. The Court provides veterans an impartial judicial forum for review of administrative decisions by the Board of Veterans' Appeals that are adverse to the veteran-appellant's claim of entitlement to benefits for service-connected disabilities, survivor benefits and other benefits such as education payments and waiver of indebtedness.

Legislative Branch

The United States Congress
Congress is the lawmaking body of the U.S. government, and is made up of 2 parts, the House of Representatives and the Senate.  The Library of Congress website has a comprehensive website with links to everything Congress.
The Library of Congress's Thomas website is the official website created when the 104th Congress directed the Library of Congress to make federal legislative information freely available to the public. The Thomas website contains legislative information including:
The U.S. Code
Legislation passed by Congress and approved by the President becomes law and is then consolidated and codified by subject matter in the U.S. Code. The official version of the U.S. Code is on the website of the Office of the Law Revision Counsel, but a more user-friendly version of the U.S. Code has been created online by the Legal Information Institute at the Cornell University Law School.
PA Legal Research Guide
A very helpful essay by an experienced Law Librarian describing standard PA resources.
Pennsylvania Manual
A guide to current and historical Pennsylvania government.
PA Government Agency Directory
Direct phone numbers for people & offices in PA government.
Allegheny County Website
The official website with links to all departments.

Legislative Sources

Pennsylvania Statutes: Unofficial Purdon's Pennsylvania Statutes from West
This site from West provides free access to an unannotated version of West's Purdon's Pennsylvania Statutes and Consolidated Statutes.
PA Bills
The General Assembly has Bill Information on the Session Information page, for researching PA legislative history. Search by Bill Topic or Bill Number.
Locate a Lobbyist.
Pennsylvania General Assembly
Current session work,   bill updates, committee links. Pennsylvania Manual.
House Democratic Caucus
Senate Democratic Caucus
House Republican Caucus
Senate Republican Caucus
County & Local Government Pages
Many of these home pages include court rules &   local ordinances.
Allegheny County Website
The official website with links to all departments.
Pennsylvania Legislators' Municipal Deskbook
A source, written for legislators, about the way PA municipal government works. Includes descriptions of legal issues that are signifcant to local governments.
Pennsylvania Government Charters
Everything from the Charter for the Province in 1681 to the Constitution in 1776.

Judicial Sources

Administrative Office of PA Courts
Case reports, bar results, notices, court descriptions.
Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners
Administrators of the PA Bar Exam.
PA Superior Court
Full-text of opinions, forms, schedule, judicial biographies, and history.
Courts of Common Pleas
Database of opinions and links to primary Web sites for several PA counties including Westmoreland, Lancaster, Monroe, & Chester initially.
Court Rules
PA Rules of Civil Procedure
PA Rules of Criminal Procedure
PA Rules of Evidence
Federal Courts in Pennsylvania
Western District Court
Forms, court locations, rules, directory, job listings.
Third Circuit Court of Appeals
Case reports, rules, and forms.
Eastern District Court
Opinions, news, rules, announcements, document filing, directory.
Middle District Court
Local rules, forms, opinions, Pacer, and more.
 Information  about court structure, personnel and operations, case scheduling information, local rules, annual reports and more.
Jury homepage provide information and allows prospective jurors the convenience of completing necessary qualification and deferral requests on-line.

Administrative Sources

PA Government Agency Directory
Links to all official sites from the State executive, legislative & judicial branches.
Pennsylvania Code
Full-text of all PA agency regulations.   Search by subject or browse.
Pennsylvania Bulletin
Chronological compillation of regulations, governor's orders, rules of court, agency notices.
State Atty. General
News, and programs involving consumer issues & crimes.
PA Environmental Hearing Board
Full-text opinions since 1997, docket, and general Board info.
PA Workers Comp Journal
Workers Compensation court rules, recent decisions, news, and web links.
Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing
Sentencing guidelines, commission information, criminal justice links.

Professional Sources

PA Bar Association
Lawyers' professional organization.
PA Disciplinary Board
Disciplinary rules, FAQs from attorneys and consumers, attorney registration and discipline records.
Pennsylvania Continuing Legal Education Board
Approved courses, rules, forms, info for instructors, practitioners, out-of-state lawyers.
PA Bar Institute
Continuing legal education course information.


Municipal Government
Home page for the City of Pittsburgh, with links to all departments in the city government.
The entire Code of Ordinances for the City of Pittsburgh.
City Departments
Links to all city departments including Emergency, Fire, Police, Parking and Public Works.
City Documents
Online versions of important city documents, including:
  • Home Rule Charter
  • City Budget for the last 6 years
  • City Council meeting agendas and minutes
  • City Tax Forms
  • City of Pittsburgh Ethics Handbook and complaint form
  • The city's Right to Know Policy
Guide to Permitting
Information on the permitting process for land and building improvements in Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh Legal Journal Opinions
Pittsburgh Legal Journal Opinions published on the Allegheny County Bar Association website. As of Nov. 2009 these opinions are no longer available in print, and are only available on the ACBA website.
Pittsburgh Municipal Court
The PMC comprises a Housing Division, Traffic Division and Criminal Division. Magisterial District Judges are assigned to preside over more than 70,000 cases annually in this court.
Pittsburgh Parking Court
Information about parking tickets and parking enforcement in the city, including a link that allows you to pay a parking ticket online.

Allegheny County

County Government
Home page for Allegheny County, with links to programs, services, and operations of the county government.
Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas
The home page for the Court of Common Pleas, Fifth Judicial District of Pennsylvania, has links to:
  • The Civil Division
  • The Criminal Division Each year over 20,000 criminal cases are disposed by 15 judges in crimes ranging from simple misdemeanors to homicide. The criminal division includes five departments: adult probation office, bail agency, behavior clinic, jury operations, and court support personnel.
  • The Family Division The mission of the Family Division is to resolve family legal issues in a user-friendly forum which maximizes access to the Court, and best addresses the important and unique needs of children and families.
  • Orphans' Court The cases that are heard in the Orphans' Court Division include all matters involving decedent's estates, trusts, wills, guardians of the persons and estates of minors, guardians of the persons and estates of incapacitated persons, powers of attorney, termination of parental rights and adoptions, civil commitments, marriage licenses, nonprofit associations and corporations, and inheritance and estate tax matters.
The Clerk of the Court of Common Pleas has administrative control and responsibility for keeping and maintaining all official documents and records, as well as the official Seal of the Civil and Family Divisions of the Court. This website allows for electronic filing and retrieving of court documents and has electronic forms and rules for electronic filing.
Allegheny County Bar Association
The Allegheny County Bar Association (ACBA) is a professional organization with more than 6,500 member lawyers, judges, magisterial district justices, legal administrators and paralegals.
The website includes an online Lawyer Referral Service.


Local News

Local newspapers with online websites include the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and the Pittsburgh Business Times.
Local TV news websites include KDKA, WPXI and WTAE.
Legal News
The Pittsburgh Legal Journal The official legal journal for both the Court of Common Pleas and the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. Public notices, court schedules and court notices can all be found here.
The Lawyers Journal The Lawyers Journal (TLJ), published every 2 weeks, publishes substantive legal articles that provide a detailed look at recent important court decisions and furnishes timely information on areas of interest to the local legal community.