Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sources for 50-State Surveys

If you are researching the laws of more than one jurisdiction, you can often save time with a fifty-state survey. These publications compile citations to the laws or regulations for each state on a particular subject, eliminating the need to search each state’s laws individually.

Fifty-state surveys can be found in various formats. The Law Library has long subscribed to the Subject Compilation of State Laws (Reference KF1 .F67; 1960-present), a print series which offers citations to books and articles that compare state laws on a particular topic. However, because new volumes do not cumulate, the Subject Compilation usually requires researchers to consult several volumes in order to find all of the relevant listings for a single topic. Fortunately, the Subject Compilation of State Laws is now available through HeinOnline ( The online version may be searched or browsed by topic, greatly streamlining the process of locating all relevant entries on an issue.

On LexisNexis (, fifty-state surveys are available in the 50 State Surveys, Legislation & Regulations database, which is easily accessible from the Law School search screen under Legislation & Politics > U.S. & U.K. Surveys on Lexis may be downloaded as spreadsheets, which provide hyperlinks to specific regulations or statute sections in each state on a particular topic. Lexis continues to add new topics to its surveys database; recent additions included surveys for regulation of billboards and other outdoor advertising as well as the determination of damages for eminent domain proceedings.

Westlaw ( offers the SURVEYS (for topics governed by statutes) and REG-SURVEYS (for regulatory matters) databases, which initially reprinted the surveys available in the National Survey of State Laws (also available in print at Reference KF386 .N38). Westlaw began to add its own survey topics to the database, which has now grown so large that it is available as a separate research tab. To add it to your Westlaw screen, look for the option to "Add a Tab" in the upper right-hand corner.

For other time-saving research tips, ask a librarian.