Legal Research

Legal research makes use of specialized search tools, authoritative explanations, and primary sources of law to answer legal questions.

Law Guides

We explain how to navigate our legal materials in our Legal Research library guides (LawGuides). By practicing the recommended search techniques, you will develop skills to complete your legal research quickly and efficiently. Quickly access the LawGuides using the hyperlink at the top right of every library page.

Researching Maine Law

Each of Maine’s three branches of state government are sources of Maine law.

The legislature passes statutes (or legislation).

The executive branch (governor) issues proclamations and orders, and approves legislation.

The judiciary (courts) resolves disputes documented in case law, decisions, and orders.

State agencies and local governments are also sources of Maine law.

State agencies are authorized by the legislature to make laws called rules or regulations.

Local governments such as counties, municipalities, and towns, are also sources of law. Local laws include ordinances, rules and regulations, and specialized courts.

Check out our Maine Law Guides for help finding statutes, case law, and other sources mentioned here, as well as state-specific resources that explain the law.

More Maine law libraries

Augusta: The Maine State Law and Legislative Reference Library is a public library located at the state capitol. You may visit in person and use their online legal resources.

Portland: Cleaves Law Library is a fee-based membership library serving attorneys and the courts. The website currently includes information on finding a lawyer and has a list of helpful legal links.

Find a lawyer

Low-income residents may be eligible for free or reduced-cost services from Pine Tree Legal Assistance. Otherwise, lawyer referral services are provided by the Maine State Bar Association. Maine attorneys are listed in the Maine Board of Overseers Bar Directory.

Self-help

The Legal Information Institute is a non-profit web project that offers free access to law and materials to help everyone understand the law. The Maine Judicial Branch has additional information if you want to represent yourself in court.

Search Library Catalogs & Databases

Catalogs have information about print and electronic items in the library collection and where to find items in the collection. Catalogs are the library equivalent of a search engine. Databases are searchable electronic collections. Restricted databases (below) are not included in the catalogs.

URSUS is an online catalog that searches the print and electronic collections of all libraries in the University of Maine system. Limit your search to the University of Maine School of Law collection by using the drop down menu.  On the Reference page you will find information on Using the Online Catalog and Locating Items in the Library.  For access to over 300 databases, see our Electronic Resources LawGuide.

Restricted Databases – on site public access only

Please visit during public hours to use these specialized legal databases: