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Summer Clerks Research Guide

Strategies and research tips for working law students

Researching Legislative History

Practice Tip: When someone asks for legislative history, always clarify.

What are you looking for and why?

  • Reports vs. everything

Look at what's already compiled. Major sources include:

For further detail, see:

Legislative History Pointers

Important numbers to know if you're asking for help:

  • Code section (or popular name)
  • Public Law number
  • Bill number(s)

Do not confuse legislative history with:

  • Statutory history (looking narrowly at how the text of a law has changed over time), or;
  • Statutory interpretation - for reference on this subject, the authoritative treatise is Statutes and Statutory Construction (also known as Sutherland on Statutory Construction, after the original author-editor).