U.S. Law School Libraries

The American Bar Association requires that every accredited American law school have a law library in compliance with established specifications regarding quantity and quality of materials available. A typical law library includes a large number of works such as a full set of United States Reports, one or both of the unofficial U.S. Supreme Court reporters, the West National Reporter System, the West American Digest System, official reporters from various states, the Federal Register, volumes of American Jurisprudence, bound volumes containing issues of prominent law reviews from around the country, federal and state statutes and regulations (such as the United States Code and Code of Federal Regulations), and a variety of treatises, encyclopedias, loose-leaf services, and practice guides.

Law School Libraries in the USA

Large libraries may contain several additional materials covering topics like legal education, research, and writing; the history of the American legal system and profession; the history behind certain high-profile cases; techniques of oral argument; and the legislative history of important federal and state statutes. In contrast, a small law library, may contain only one unofficial Supreme Court reporter, selected West national reporters and digests specific to the state in which the library is located, the United States Code, a few state-specific reporters and statutory compilations (if they exist for a particular state), and several state-specific treatises and practice guides.

The majority of courthouses also have a law library; the United States Supreme Court building houses one of the most extensive in the world, rivalled only by the Law Library of Congress. Several larger law firms maintain a private library for their own attorneys. Law firms located in college towns and larger cities with universities simply use the local law school library for legal research. In some US states, like California, all counties are required by state law to maintain a public law library for the benefit of the general public.

In recent years, the advent of online legal research outlets has reduced the need for some types of printed volumes like reporters and statutory compilations. Some law libraries have therefore reduced the availability of printed works that can easily be found on the Internet, and have increased their own Internet availability. On the other hand, some university law libraries retain extensive historical collections going back to the earliest English reports.

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