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Law: A Guide to Penn State Resources

This guide is a starting point for faculty and students at Penn State University. Members of the Penn State Law or Dickinson Law School communities may have additional resources available.

What is "the law"

To locate the legal information you need, you must first understand the types of law,  how they are made, who is responsible for those laws, how jurisdictions influence the publication of law materials, and the concept of precedence.

Generally laws can be grouped into 4 areas:

  • Constitutional law -- the fundamental law that sets out how a government is organized, the powers and relationships of various branches of government, and the fundamental rights of citizens.
  • Statutory Law -- the laws as passed by a legislative body
  • Regulatory or Administrative Law -- rules and regulations, generally developed by executive and administrative bodies, to enforce statutes.  
  • Case Law -- Legal principles in the opinions rendered by an appellate court or administrative court (e.g. the National Labor R.
  • Jurisdiction -- the area (geographic, federal or state) over which a court has authority
  • Precedent --a court decision which serves as the basis and authority for subsequent decisions

Please note that these are simplified definitions for these concept for more information please consult a legal dictionary such as: