Georgetown Law
Georgetown Law Library

District of Columbia In-Depth

This State Guide provides an in-depth look at sources of law within the District of Columbia.


This research guide is designed to facilitate research in District of Columbia law in the modern era. It explains the process of making laws, rules, and regulations in D.C. It also identifies and describes major publications of statutory law, administrative law, case law, and secondary materials, and explains how to use them. All items are located in the Edward Bennett Williams Law Library unless otherwise indicated.

For a discussion of the history of the D.C. legislative and judicial system before the latest major change in the governing arrangements laid out in the District of Columbia Self-Government and Governmental Reorganization Act ("Home Rule Act"), Pub. L. No. 93-198, 87 Stat. 744 (1973) (D.C. Code §§ 1-201.01 to 1-207.71), please consult:

  • Luis M. Acosta, The Legal History of the District of Columbia Prior to Home Rule: A Bibliographic Essay, 23(4) Legal Reference Services Q. 43 (2004) (available in print (K12 .E357 and electronically)
  • Joan Talbert Thornell, Governance of the Nation's Capital: A Summary History of the Forms and Powers of Local Government For the District of Columbia, 1790 to 1973 (JK2736 .G68 1990)
  • District of Columbia Resources at the Burns Law Library (George Washington University)
  • Leah F. Chanin, Pamela J. Gregory & Sarah K. Wiant, Legal Research in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia (2d ed. 2000) (KF 240 .C43 2000).

For acts relating to the establishment of the District of Columbia and its various forms of governmental organization, check volume 1 of the D.C. Official Code (KFD1230 2001 .A22).

Members of the Georgetown University community may seek additional assistance at the reference desk or online.

Update History

Revised 4/2007 (BRM)
Updated 12/2012 (MS)
Updated 4/2019 (SB)