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Environmental Law Research: Introduction

Getting Started

Research Strategy

The first step is to decide what specific question or legal issue you are trying to address? What are the needs of your client and what are the limitations on research? Secondly, determine key phrases or terms to use during your search.  For example, the most applicable terms for this guide would include the following: environmental law, EPA, and environmental regulations.  

Next, begin by consulting the appropriate secondary sources. While they are merely persuasive tools for the court, they are good for gaining a further understanding of the law and its significance. Secondary sources include legal encyclopedias, nutshells, hornbooks, student texts, treaties, American Law Reports, law review articles, form books, practice manuals, and much more.  In addition, secondary sources lead you to the primary sources of authority. Primary sources of authority are binding precedential sources that the court must adhere to when making decisions. Primary sources include Constitutional provisions, statutory law, case law, administrative law decisions, and more. 

What is Environmental Law?

Environmental law is the field of law dealing with the maintenance and protection of the environment, including preventive measures such as the requirements of environmental-impact statements, as well as measures to assign liability and provide cleanup for incidents that harm the environment. Because most environmental litigation involves disputes with governmental agencies, environmental law is heavily intertwined with administrative law.

(See Black's Law Dictionary 9th Edition)

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