Find the Law


The information on this website is intended to assist patrons with their legal research and is in no way intended to replace the counsel of an attorney. Any decisions about how to proceed must be determined by the patron. The library staff can only recommend and refer you to print and web-based resources that will help you find answers to your law-related questions. The staff at the San Joaquin County Law Library cannot explain or interpret the law itself and we are not permitted to give legal advice.


It is imperative that the legal researcher determine which courts or tribunals, will have jurisdiction over the matter.  If you would like more information on determining Jurisdiction and Venue, please refer to the California Courts Self-Help section on Jurisdiction and Venue.

Once the appropriate jurisdiction and venue are determined, the legal research process can begin. It is advisable to identify the appropriate legal authority governing the issue or topic. Legal authority may be found inside of primary sources, secondary sources, and finding tools.

For more information on researching the law, please see the California Courts section on legal research.

Primary Sources

Primary sources are considered to be the “printed rule of law,” or the codification of the laws enacted by the legislature that are then interpreted and applied by the courts.

California State law primary sources include, but are not limited to:

Federal Law primary sources include, but are not limited to:

Local government primary sources for codes, regulations, and ordinances include, but are not limited to:

Secondary Sources

Secondary sources are used to learn more about a topic, or issue, and the laws, or case law, which govern the topic or issue. Secondary sources will also cite the applicable case law or statutes. The San Joaquin County Law Library provides multiple options for secondary sources such as:

  • Nolo Self-Help books on various subjects,
  • Bancroft & Whitney practice guides,
  • Continuing Education of the Bar series of practice guides,
  • California Forms of Pleading and Practice forms manuals,
  • American Law Review: Restatements of the Law
  • The Rutter Group’s practice guides,
  • Witkin Treatises, and
  • Law Review Journals
Online Secondary Sources

For a complete list of the San Joaquin County Law Library catalog, please visit our catalog.

If the Law Library does not have the title you are seeking in print, the Law Library also offers in-house, web-based research resources, such as EBSCO, Lexis Advance, and Westlaw. Go to our Web-Based Research Resources page to learn more.