Georgetown Law
Georgetown Law Library

Statutes Research Guide

This research guide introduces basic concepts of statutory research, and provides introductory information on how to locate the statutes of U.S. federal and state jurisdictions.


Key to Icons

  • Georgetown only
  • On Westlaw
  • On Lexis
  • On Bloomberg
  • PDF
  • More Info (hover)
  • Preeminent Treatise
  • Study Aid

Updating Codes Online

Most online versions of codes are updated within 48 hours of legislative changes. It is important to check the currency note at the top of the code section you are looking at. All online vendors will have a currency note, so be sure to check to see how current your code section is.

For example, on Lexis, you will see this:

7 USCS, Ch. 7

Current through Public Law 117-214, approved October 19, 2022.


On Westlaw, you will see this:

If you click on the Currentness link on Westlaw, it will take you to the most current information about the section of the law.

The U.S. Code Classification Tables are useful for identifying very recent revisions to the U.S. Code. These tables can be viewed in U.S. Code order, as well as Public Law order. 

Recently enacted Public Laws are available on, as well as other commercial vendors like Bloomberg Law, Lexis and Westlaw. The legislation is usually keyword searchable for ease of access.

State legislative sites offer full-texts of bills and new session laws, which may be searchable by keywords. Lexis and Westlaw also provide state session laws for searching.

Updating Codes in Print

While print publications are much slower in updating than online versions of a code, for federal statutes you can check the pocket part in the back of the code volume or the cumulative supplement. These supplements are usually published annually.  Look for legislative service pamphlets. These updates are published throughout the year and usually include a cumulative list of statutes affected by recently enacted laws and a cumulative subject index.

Tables of amendments and repeals published in codes and advance legislative services provide citations to session laws that modify existing statutes.  All three versions of the U.S. Code  contain tables of amendments, repeals and new code provisions.

Validating Codes

You can use Shepard's on Lexis or KeyCite on Westlaw to locate current court cases and other material that analyze your statute. This can help you determine that the section you are researching is still "good law." 

For example, you can see that KeyCite has already identified 52 U.S.C.A. sec. 10308  as subject to proposed legislation and indicated this with a "yellow flag." A "red flag" warns that the statute has been amended by a recent session law or rule, repealed, superseded, or held unconstitutional or preempted in whole or in part. Similarly, Shepard's "yellow triangle" signals possible negative treatment and its "red stop sign" signals strong negative history or treatment. 

On Westlaw: 


On Lexis: 


Statutory Tutorial: Currency

Select the "Updating and Currency" section of the Statutory Reseach Tutorial for additional information and a demonstration of the method provided.