Legal Research

Need help?

Law Libraries

The best resource for help with legal research is a law library. Don't hesitate to contact us with your legal research questions.

While law library staff cannot do your research for you, we can offer guidance and tips for your research project. Please see our Legal Research & Advice policy for more information.

Online Resources

Overview of Federal and State Government Structure

Federal and state governments have three branches: executive, judicial and legislative. The law comes from all three branches of government. Understanding the responsibilities of the three branches and how they work with each other will help you with your legal research.

In the federal government, the president is the head of the executive branch, which is comprised of all government agencies. The legislative branch is comprised of the United States Congress. The House of Representatives and the Senate make the laws. The executive agencies implement the laws and can make administrative rules to achieve the law makers' goals. The judicial branch includes the United States Supreme Court and the federal district, bankruptcy and appellate courts and the judicial branch is responsible for interpreting laws enacted by the legislative branch and the rules and regulations of the executive branch.

See our Federal Legal Research page for more information about the research resources listed in this section.

Utah's state governmental structure is very similar to the federal system. The governor is the head of the executive branch, the state legislature makes laws, and the state courts interpret the laws.


Sources of Utah Law

See our Utah Legal Research page for more information about the research resources listed in this section.


Utah Executive Branch

The main sources of law from the executive branch are administrative regulations, attorney general opinions and the governor's executive orders. Some administrative agencies hold quasi-judicial hearings, and some of those decisions are available to researchers.


Utah Legislative Branch

The laws passed by the state legislature are compiled in Utah Code. Other research resources from the legislative branch include bill drafts, House and Senate journals, committee hearings, floor debates and the Laws of Utah.


Utah Judicial Branch

The main sources of law from the judicial branch are appellate court decisions and court rules.

Utah has two appellate courts: the Utah Court of Appeals and the Utah Supreme Court. Appellate courts review the decisions of trial courts and make decisions about the correctness of procedure or application of laws. Appellate decisions are available in print and online.

Court rules govern court procedures and the conduct of the people who do business with the court. Rules establish uniform procedures for how documents must be formatted, how to serve documents, how to conduct discovery, how to make motions, how to appeal, time limitations for every step in the process, and many other topics. State and federal courts have separate rules, and there are different kinds of rules for different types of cases.


Utah State Law Library | 450 S. State Street | 801-238-7990 | Directions | View Map


Page Last Modified: 9/28/2012
Return to Top