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Legal Looseleafs


Defining Characteristics of Looseleaf Services:

  • 1. Looseleafs provide material on a very current basis, with updates published on a quarterly, monthly, bi-weekly or weekly basis. This allows continuous editing, introduction of new material and quick removal of superceded material.

  • 2. They employ a looseleaf format to facilitate the continuous updating. As the name implies this usually consists of a binder which allows addition of new material and/or replacement of old material. There are generally multiple binders, with tabbed sections. The more extensive looseleafs may also include hardbound volumes for older material.

  • 3. Looseleaf services generally concentrate on a single area of law and encompass both primary and secondary legal materials. This allows a researcher to use a single source to gain access to statutes, regulations, court cases, administrative agency decisions, and commentary on a particular topic. Some services also contain forms, summaries of professional meetings, calendars of events or other information relevant to legal professionals.


Types of Looseleaf Services:

Looseleaf services usually come in one of two formats, although some may use a combination of the two.


  • 1. Interfiled Looseleafs- Format in which new material replaces older pages in contrast to the supplementation of existing pages as in Newsletter format. Usually includes full text of statutes on the topic (often with legislative history), full text or digests of relevant court cases or administrative decisions, editorial comment, and current reports summarizing recent developments. Looseleaf services published by Commerce Clearing House (CCH) and Research Institute of America (RIA) are generally interfiled looseleafs. An example of this would be the Standard Federal Tax Reporter published by CCH.

  • 2. Newsletter Looseleafs- Format in which pamphlets are filed sequentially and chronologically, supplementing existing pages. Usually includes recent state and federal developments within the broad subject covered or within more specific sub-topics. Also may include text or excerpts of major legislation, court cases, administrative regulations and agency decisions. Many of the looseleaf services published by the Bureau of National Affairs (BNA) are in the newsletter format. An example of this would be the frequently used U.S. Law Week, which provides information on U.S. Supreme Court proceedings and decisions as well as significant developments in state and federal law.


Accessing and Using Looseleafs:

The best way to determine if there is a legal looseleaf relevant to the point of law you are researching is to use Legal Looseleafs In Print, a bibliography which provides detailed information on over 3,600 legal looseleafs. It includes a publisher index, subject index, and electronic format index as well as a title list, bibliographic information and a publishers directory. Legal Looseleafs In Print can be found in the FCSL Library and Technology Center in the Reference Room on aisle 103 (call # KF1.L44).

Once you have located a looseleaf pertinent to your subject you should always refer to the introductory section which will discuss the use and organization of the service unless you are familiar with how to use it. This will save you time and frustration and will help ensure that you are actually finding all the most current information contained in the looseleaf. Although each service differs in regard to access points, most will contain one or more of the following features:

  • 1. Overall topical or subject index
  • 2. Table of Cases
  • 3. Table of Statutes
  • 4. Table of Regulations
  • 5. Indexes to current materials and cumulative indexes
  • 6. Special indexes to particular topics or volumes
  • 7. Table of Contents

Electronic Access To Looseleaf Services

Many looseleaf services are now available on CD-Rom or via LEXIS and WESTLAW. Each format has its own benefits and drawbacks. Looseleaf services on CD-Rom can provide access at a lower search cost but are normally not updated as often as the print versions. On-line versions can be expensive for the frequent user but have the advantage of very frequent updating. Many on-line services may actually provide the latest developments in a specific area of law on a daily basis.

Hints For Successful Use Of Looseleafs

Unless you are very familiar with the specific service being used check the instructions provided. These will often include a brief description of the contents, how to access the information, and any special features.

Looseleaf indexes will often refer to section and paragraph numbers rather than page numbers. Be sure to verify where you are being referred by the index. There will be a notation of this somewhere on the page.

Check for time-divided indexes. For example, some may have a current index, an index, and a latest additions to index. Be sure to check all time periods if that is applicable to the research you are doing.

Pay attention to the source you are looking at within the looseleaf. Since these services try to cover all material related to a specific topic area, you will often have primary and secondary authority located next to each other. Only the constitution, cases, statutes and regulations of a jurisdiction are the law.

Last, but not least: Ask a Librarian if you need help locating or using a looseleaf service!