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Basic Legal Research Guide: Illinois Resources

This Guide (formerly known as the First Year Legal Research Guide) tracks the Fall Basic Legal Research Course at Loyola University Chicago's School of Law

Illinois Law Research Guide

For a more in-depth treatment of each of these topics, see the Law Library's dedicated Illinois Law Research Guide.

Accessing Illinois Resources

You can find all of the print items in the Illinois collection on the 3rd floor of the Law Library. See the map below for the location of Illinois materials in relation to the Circulation Desk. For a more detailed look at the Illinois collection, both print and electronic, please visit the Illinois Legal Research Guide.

Illinois Floor Map

Illinois Law Resources PowerPoint

This presentation is from Week Seven of Loyola's Fall 2023 Basic Legal Research course.

Wojcik's Illinois Legal Research, 2nd ed.

Available on Law Permanent Reserve (at the Circulation Desk) and in the Law Reference collection.

Illinois Legislative History Research

"Legislative history" refers to the documents generated as a bill passes through the legislative process on its way to becoming a statute. The following guides will help you understand the process of gathering that documentation for a particular piece of Illinois legislation.

Illinois Secondary Sources

The advantage of using Illinois secondary sources over the more general secondary sources is that they will always point you to Illinois primary law, as opposed to primary law that isn’t binding in Illinois state courts. The two major sets of Illinois legal encyclopedias are Illinois Jurisprudence (in print at KFI 1230.5 .L38 1992 and in Lexis) and Illinois Law and Practice (in print at KFI 1265 .I4 and in Westlaw). Illinois Jurisprudence in print is organized by major topic (e.g., Business Organizations, Family Law, Torts), while Illinois Law and Practice in print is organized alphabetically.

There are many helpful treatises that Illinois practitioners rely upon. Among the most helpful are the handbooks published by the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education, which are commonly known as “IICLEs” (after the Institute’s acronym). IICLE handbooks are written by Illinois practitioners and provide practical discussions of Illinois legal issues with citations to relevant primary authorities. Print volumes are identifiable by their black bindings, while online access is available to the Loyola Law community through the IICLE Online Library. Current Loyola law students can register for free IICLE online access (and for other IICLE benefits) by going to the IICLE Law Student Resource Kit page and creating an account (note that you must use your LUC e-mail account to register).

West’s Illinois Practice Series print volumes are shelved in the Illinois section of the Law Library on the 3rd floor, while the entire set can be found on Westlaw. Several Loyola law professors are contributing authors to the series.

There are a few additional noteworthy legal periodicals that Illinois practitioners use to keep up-to-date on topics of current interest (although these are not generally used for research purposes):

  • The Chicago Daily Law Bulletin is a daily newspaper that provides articles on legal topics affecting Chicago and Illinois lawyers, and it also prints court dockets and classified ads. Recent print issues are available in the magazine rack near the Law Library's 3rd floor entrance.
  • The Illinois Bar Journal is a monthly publication of the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA), providing practice tips, news on pending legislation, and a monthly legal research column. It is available in print (K9 .L5, the most recent issue is in the Law Library’s 3rd floor "Living Room") and in HeinOnline. Students can get free access (and other benefits) by signing up for a student ISBA membership online.
  • The CBA Record is the Chicago Bar Association's journal, published seven times per year. The CBA Record focuses on current issues in the law and on matters of general interest to Chicago's legal community. It is available in print (K3 .B22, the most recent issue is in the Law Library’s 3rd floor "Living Room") and in HeinOnline. Students can get free access (and other benefits) by signing up for a student CBA membership online.

Illinois Cases

Prior to July 1, 2011, Illinois Supreme Court cases were officially published in print in Illinois Reports (KFI 1245 .I51), and Illinois Appellate Court cases were officially published in print in Illinois Appellate Court Reports (KFI 1248 .I51). However, since July 1, 2011, official versions of Illinois Supreme Court and Appellate Court case opinions are not available in print; they are available only from the website of the Illinois Courts. The 21st edition of The Bluebook covers the "public domain" citation format now required for Illinois case citations; see table T1. Note that West's North Eastern Reporter is an unofficial regional reporter that contains Illinois case opinions.  

The Illinois Courts website can be a helpful resource for finding recent case opinions (for free) if you know the name of the case you’re looking for. However, because it does not have a powerful full-text search mechanism like Lexis, Westlaw, and Bloomberg Law, and because it does not provide finding aids (such as headnotes) or a citator service for updating, the website is not as useful for extensive legal research projects as the subscription-based online legal research services.

Illinois Statutes

Illinois statutory law consists of legislation passed by the Illinois General Assembly, the legislative branch of Illinois government. As with federal statutory law, Illinois statutes are initially issued as individual acts, called "Public Acts," which follow a citation convention that parallels federal slip laws; in Illinois, Public Act 98-1097 would refer to the 1097th statute enacted by the 98th Illinois General Assembly. Individual Public Acts are then arranged chronologically as session laws, which in Illinois are published in the Laws of the State of Illinois. Because Public Acts and Laws of the State of Illinois are arranged chronologically and not by subject, they are of limited value for research.

As seen with federal statutory law, there are three codified (i.e., arranged-by-subject) versions of Illinois statutory law. Unlike federal statutory law, however, there is no official codified version of Illinois statutory law. The Illinois Compiled Statutes (ILCS), looks like an official version, but because it is published by the Illinois State Bar Association and not the state government, it is not considered official. ILCS is available in print at KFI 1229 .I44 and online from the General Assembly’s website (the ILGA's website also notes that its version is "NOT in any sense the 'official' text of the Illinois Compiled Statutes as enacted into law"). The ILCS is published every two years, but since it does not provide annotations, it has limited value for anyone conducting extensive legal research.

There are two unofficial commercially produced codes containing Illinois statutory law, both of which provide annotations that refer to relevant case law and secondary sources for each section of the code. The Illinois Compiled Statutes Annotated, published by Lexis, is available in print at KFI 1230 1993 and online in Lexis. West's Smith-Hurd Illinois Compiled Statutes Annotated is available in print  at KFI 1230 1993 .A4 and in Westlaw. Because the annotations (especially to secondary sources) differ in the two commercially produced codes, it's a good idea to conduct research in both sets if you have access.


Illinois Administrative Law

Illinois administrative law consists of rules, regulations, and administrative decisions issued by Illinois executive branch agencies, plus documents produced by the Governor’s office and other statewide constitutional offices (e.g., the Attorney General and Secretary of State). Just as seen with federal administrative law, there is a chronological compilation of agency publications—the Illinois Register, which is updated weekly and available in print at KFI 1235 .I42 and online from the Secretary of State’s website. There is also a codified topically arranged version of Illinois administrative regulations called the Illinois Administrative Code. There is no official print version of the Administrative Code; the only up-to-date version is available online from the website of the Illinois General Assembly's Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR). A complete list of Illinois administrative agency websites is available on the Secretary of State's website.

Subject Guide

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Patricia Scott
Director, Law Library & Clinical Professor of Law

Philip H. Corboy Law Center

25 E. Pearson St.

Chicago, IL 60611

(312) 915-8515

How to Cite

The Bluebook notes that practitioners should be aware of local court rules and specifies on p. 3, "Make sure to abide by any citation requirements of the court to which you are submitting your documents." Table BT2 (see p. 30) of the Bluepages contains an index of jurisdiction-specific citation rules. Where the Bluepages and local court rules are silent, defer to the Whitepages. See p. 3 in The Bluebook for further discussion of the applicability of the Bluepages and Whitepages.

In Table T1 (p. 255), The Bluebook covers the public domain citation format now required for Illinois cases decided after June 31, 2011.  For additional instruction, see Illinois Supreme Court Rule 6 and the Style Manual for the Supreme and Appellate Courts of Illinois.

Table T1 provides the following examples (see p. 255):

People v. Jolly, 2014 IL 117142, ¶ 32.

People v. Jolly, 2016 IL App (4th) 15094, ¶¶ 7–11.

Rule B10.1.3 (iv) (Bluepages) covers how to generally cite to state high court cases in non-academic legal documents, and rule B10.1.3 (v) (Bluepages) covers citing to cases from other state courts. 

Rule B12.1.2 (Bluepages) specifies how to generally cite to state statutes in non-academic legal documents.

Pursuant to table T1 of The Bluebook, the formats for citing to the Illinois Register and Illinois Administrative Code are as follows (see p. 256):

38 Ill. Reg. 19,626 (Oct. 10, 2014).

ILL. ADMIN. CODE. tit. 77, § 582.10 (2014).

The components of the Illinois Register citation are volume number, abbreviated publication name, page number, and date. The components of the Illinois Administrative Code citation are publication name, abbreviated title of the Code, section number, and year.