Official State of Iowa Website

What Is Legal Research?

Legal research is the process of finding laws and legal resources that apply to your situation. You might do legal research in response to an immediate question like, “Do I pay this parking ticket or contest it?” You might also do legal research because you are gathering information before you take an action, like gathering resources on renting an apartment before you sign a lease.  Icon of a question mark

When you are doing legal research, you will often need to look for both law and for sources that explain the law and guide you to law. An example of something that counts as “the law” is the Iowa Code. The articles on the People’s Law Library website, on the other hand, are not law, but they are meant to help you find the law, understand the law, and navigate the legal system. 

While you can do legal research whether or not you are a lawyer, remember that doing legal research on your own is very different from asking a lawyer about your situation. Many legal research resources exist, and deciding which laws apply to your situation can be challenging. While this website has guidance that is meant to make legal research more understandable, ultimately, you may need to reach out to a lawyer. More information on finding a lawyer.