Monday, September 12, 2016

Law Reports from the Library of Congress



Legal researchers are familiar with Congressional Research Service (CRS), a division of the Library of Congress, and the great bipartisan reports it provides for Members of Congress. In fact I wrote about CRS previously and that post is available here. To recap, CRS “experts assist [members of Congress] at every stage of the legislative process — from the early considerations that precede bill drafting, through committee hearings and floor debate, to the oversight of enacted laws and various agency activities.” (from the CRS website).

But today I discovered that the Library of Congress also authors something called “Legal Reports,” also for Congress, available freely at this link. There are differences between these Legal Reports and CRS Reports – one of the biggest of which I just mentioned – they are available for free on the Library of Congress' website. 

There are also differences in subject matter covered. The CRS Annual Report states that major issues covered by CRS in 2015 included appropriations, congressional oversight, country of origin labeling, federal health insurance programs, inter alia. In other words, domestic and foreign policy issues. On the other hand, a review of Law Reports created by the LOC reveals that these Reports tend to have more of a foreign or comparative law slant. For example, there are Law Reports covering children’s rights in 16 countries, regulation of drones in 13 countries and the European Union (I could have used this last semester), the impact of foreign law on domestic judgments in 13 countries, extradition of citizens in Brazil and 157 other jurisdictions, to name only four of the more than one hundred Reports! The index for Law Reports available can be found here

Another difference between CRS Reports and Law Reports is that there is no author attribution for the Legal Reports; the author is listed as the Global Legal Research Center. As you know, the CRS Reports are written by subject specialists and the individual’s contact information is given at the end of each report.

It’s a good day when I discover a whole new resource for research and I am happy to share this discovery with you.

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