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Illinois Legal Research


Primary Sources

Primary sources are those sources created by one of the three branches of government.  You'll find links to both print and online versions of primary sources of Illinois law in the boxes on the right.  Explanations and tips are provided in the boxes on the left.

Online Research

LexisNexis Academic provides campus-wide access to many primary sources of Illinois law. Note that this is different from Lexis. LexisNexis Academic is available to anyone on campus, whereas access to Lexis is limited to law students and faculty and requires a username and password.


The Illinois Compiled Statutes (ILCS) can be found in the sources listed below. The two key annotated statutes are those produced by West and LexisNexis.

Finding Statutes

Use the indexes to find code sections. Note that indexes to the two sets may direct you to completely different code sections in some cases. Check the index to the other set if the first one does not locate the appropriate section.

The annotations may be different; the West set sometimes has better historical annotations.

The update schedules are different; check the first page of the pocket part of each set for information.

The LexisNexis set may be the best one to start with because it has fewer cross references and more subject words and phrases familiar to the general public.


The decisions of Illinois courts (i.e., cases) can be found in the sources below.

Finding Cases

In order to identify relevant cases, you can consult a variety of resources, including: a print digest; build a custom digest in Westlaw (or the equivalent in LexisNexis); keyword search the case databases; or use a secondary source. Digests, whether in print or online, provide lists of cases organized around certain topics. They also provide short descriptions of how each case addressed those topics -- these are called "squibs."  After you have a citation, you can locate the full text of the case in the reporter that it is printed in. Alternately, you can get the case by entering the citation in either Westlaw or Lexis.


Regulations are first published in the Illinois Register, and later incorporated into the Illinois Administrative Code. The organization of the administrative code follows the organization of the Illinois Compiled Statutes.

Court Rules

Court rules are just that - the rules that the Court or those working in the Court must follow. These sources include court rules for federal and state courts within Illinois.