Securities Law (U.S. and International) Research Guide

This guide is a starting point for research in securities law, covering U.S. federal, U.S. state, international, and foreign securities law.

Federal Statutes & Legislative History

Securities are governed by federal, state, and international law. This section of the guide focuses on U.S. federal law.


Although the federal securities laws are primarily codified throughout Title 15 of the U.S. Code, practitioners rarely refer to code sections when referencing securities laws.  Instead, securities lawyers refer to the original act sections, and so it is easier to research the securities laws in sources that are organized by act.  The best of these are Wolters Kluwer's Federal Securities Law Reporter and Bloomberg's Securities Practice Center.

Core Legislation (enacted in the 1930s and 1940s):

  • Securities Act of 1933, codified as amended at 15 U.S.C. § 77a et seq. The '33 Act was the first major federal legislation intended to regulate the sale of securities. Until its passage, securities were regulated only by the states. 
  • Securities Exchange Act of 1934, codified as amended at 15 U.S.C. § 78a et seq. The ’34 Act extended federal regulation of securities trading to securities already issued and outstanding. It also created the Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC"). 
  • Investment Advisers Act of 1940, codified as amended at 15 U.S.C. § 80b‹1 et seq. The Advisers Act requires that certain investment advisers register with the SEC. 
  • Investment Company Act of 1940, codified as amended at 15 U.S.C. 80a‹1 et seq. The 1940 Act applies to companies whose business primarily involves investing in other companies, such as mutual fund companies.

More Recent Legislation:

Compiled Legislative History Sources

For more information, see our Legislative History research guide and Legislative History tutorial series.