Thursday, October 4, 2012

How to find definitions in federal regulations

Fairly early on in law school, students learn how to find cases and statutes defining specific words and phrases, by checking 1) the Words & Phrases legal encyclopedia, 2) by checking the Words - Phrases volume of a West's digest, and 3) by searching the W-P field of a case database or statute database on Westlaw.  Unfortunately, none of the foregoing research strategies will find definitions in federal regulations.  However, there is a quick and efficient way to find definitions of specific terms in federal regulations.  Here's how to do it:
  1. Go to West's Code of Federal Regulations General Index (available in print, on Westlaw Classic and on WestlawNext)
  2. Look in the Ws for the heading Words and Phrases
  3. Look under the Words and Phrases heading for the term to be defined
  4. The C.F.R. citation for the regulation defining the term appears in boldface immediately after the term.
For example, looking up "Slurp guns" under the the Words and Phrases heading in the West's CFR Index, takes you to 50 C.F.R. Section 600.10 which does indeed define a slurp gun. 

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