Introduction to the U.S. Legal System

Download PDF version of guide for print

The Legal System

  • Benítez, Alberto Manuel. An Introduction to the United States Legal System: Cases and Comments (KF385.A4 B42 2006).
  • Burnham, William. Introduction to the Law and Legal System of the United States, 5th ed. (KF385.B87 2011).
  • Farnsworth, F. Allan. An Introduction to the Legal System of the United States, 4th ed. (Reserves KF387.F37 2010).
  • Feinman, Jay M. Law 101: Everything You Need to Know About American Law, 3d ed. (KF387 .F45 2010).
  • Fine, Toni M. (Duke Law '86). American Legal Systems: A Resource and Reference Guide (Alumni Authors KF240 .F56 1997).
  • Fletcher, George P. American Law in a Global Context: The Basics (Christie Collection KF380 .F59 2005).
  • Friedman , Lawrence M. A History of American Law, 3d ed. (KF352 .F7 2005).

  • Fundamentals of American Law (Alan B. Morrison, ed.) (KF389. F85 1996).
  • Hall, Kermit L. and Peter Karsten. The Magic Mirror: Law in American History, 2d ed. (KF352 .H35 2009)

  • Hay, Peter. Law of the United States: An Overview (KF385 .H393 2002).
  • Hegland, Kenney F. Introduction to the Study and Practice of Law in a Nutshell, 6th ed.  (Reserves KF273 .H4 2014).
  • Introduction to the Law of the United States (David S. Clark & Tugrul Ansay, eds.), 2d ed. (KF385 .I58 2002).
  • Johns, Margaret Z. & Rex R. Perschbacher. The United States Legal System: An Introduction, 3d ed. (KF386 .J64 2012).
  • Melone, Albert P. & Allan Karnes. The American Legal System: Foundations, Processes, and Norms, 2d ed. (KF386 .M45 2008).
  • Moliterno, James E. & Fredric I. Lederer. An Introduction to Law, Law Study, and the Lawyer's Role, 3d ed. (K237 .M65 2010).
  • Scheb, John M. Scheb & John M. Scheb II. An Introduction to the American Legal System, 3d ed. (Reserves KF385 .S34 2013).
  • U.S. Department of State, Bureau of International Information Programs. Outline of the U.S. Legal System [PDF] (2004). Explains the history and organization of the U.S. federal and state court systems.
  • Von Mehren, Arthur Taylor & Peter L. Murray. Law in the United States, 2d ed. (KF385 .V66 2007). This presentation of the American legal system is designed for lawyers of civil law backgrounds.
  • White, Edward G. Law in American History (KF352 .W48 2012 v.1)

Back to top

The Courts

  • Carp, Robert A., Ronald Stidham & Kenneth L. Manning. Judicial Process in America, 8th ed. (KF8700 .C37 2011).
  • Englander, Marilyn & Curtis Karnow. How the Courts Work: A Plain English Explanation of the American Legal System (KF387 .E54 2008)
  • The Federal Court System in the United States: An Introduction for Judges and Judicial Administrators in Other Countries [PDF] (Office of Judges Programs, Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts), 3d ed. (2010).
  • Meador, Daniel John. American Courts, 3d ed. (KF8720 .M43 2009).
  • Miller, William S., A Primer on American Courts (KF8720 .M55 2005).
  • Neubauer, David W. Judicial Process: Law, Courts, and Politics in the United States, 3d ed. (KF8719 .N48 2004).
  • Segal, Jeffrey Allan, Harold J. Spaeth, & Sara C. Benesh. The Supreme Court in the American Legal System (KF8742 .S433 2005).
  • Understanding Federal and State Courts examines the "differences, similarities, and interactions between the federal and state court systems."

Back to top

Legal Encyclopedias & Dictionaries

  • The entries in Gale Encyclopedia of American Law (formerly West's Encyclopedia of American Law) (Reference KF154 .G77 2011) define terms and highlight significant concepts, events, cases, and people.
  • American Jurisprudence 2d (Practice & Procedure KF154 .A42 & online in LexisNexis and WestlawNext) and Corpus Juris Secundum (Practice & Procedure KF154 .C56 & online in WestlawNext) synthesize federal and state law to provide a comprehensive summary of American law.
  • Black's Law Dictionary, 9th ed. (Reserves and Reference KF156 .B53 2009) is considered the most authoritative American legal dictionary. A Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage, 2d ed. (Reference KF156 .G367 1995) and Mellinkoff's Dictionary of American Legal Usage (Reference KF156 .M45 1992) are dictionaries of legal language as used in the U.S. today. Legal Terminology (Reference KF240.B767 2006) provides basic explanations of legal terms.

Back to top

Legal Language/Legal Writing

  • Garner, Bryan A. The Elements of Legal Style, 2d ed. (Reference KF250 .G37 2002) and Legal Writing in Plain English: A Text with Exercises (KF250 .G375 2001).
  • Rossini, Christine. English as a Legal Language, 2d ed. (Reference K50 .R67 1998).
  • Teply, Larry L. Legal Writing Citation in a Nutshell (Reserves KF245 .T47 2008).

Back to top

Especially for International Students

  • Alcaraz Varó, Enrique & Brian Hughes. Legal Translation Explained (K213 .A4182 2002).
  • Brostoff, Teresa Kissane & Ann Sinsheimer. Legal English: An Introduction to the Legal Language and Culture of the United States, 2d ed. (KF272 .B76 2003).
  • Edwards, George E. LL.M. Roadmap: An International Student’s Guide to U.S. Law School Programs (KF272 .E385 2011).

  • Fandl, Kevin JGuía Práctica del Sistema Legal Americano para Profesionales en un Mundo Jurídico Global (Reserves KF385 .F3618 2013).

  • Fandl, Kevin J. Lost in Translation: Effective Legal Writing for the International Legal Community (Reserves K94 .F36 2013).

  • Gader-Shafran, Rachel. The International Student's Survival Guide to Law School in the United States: Everything You Need to Succeed (Reserves KF283 .G33 2003).

  • Hoffman, Craig & Andrea Tyler, United States Legal Discourse: Legal English for Foreign LLMs (Reserves KF250 .H64 2008).

  • Neacsu, Dana. Introduction to U.S. Law and Legal Research (Reserves KF240 .N42 2005).

  • Nedzel, Nadia. Legal Reasoning, Research, and Writing for International Graduate Students, 3d ed. (KF240 .N43 2012).

  • Ramsfield, Jill J. Culture to Culture: A Guide to U.S. Legal Writing (KF250 .R358 2005).

  • Saltanat, Meiramova. English in Professional Activity: English for International Law Students (online via “get it@ Duke”).

  • Widmer, Corinne. A Civil Lawyer's Introduction to Anglo-American Law: Torts (KD1949 .W53 2008).

  • Wojcik, Mark E. Introduction to Legal English: An Introduction to Legal Terminology, Reasoning, and Writing in Plain English, 2d ed. (KF250 .W65 2001).

Back to top

rev 08/2014 ASK/KA