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Social Work 320w, Research Guide, Yuma: Legal Research

This guide is to help you work through the research and policy process in your Social Work course

Legal research in social work

An image from The Handbook of Social Policy by Midgeley and Livermore, 2008,  which examines problem-solving. 




social policy process

Basic Legal Research in Social Work

Legal Dictionaries

Legal dictionaries are useful because the legal definition of a term will often differ from the non-legal definition of a term. During the research process, look up terms you encounter to verify that your interpretation of the word is correct.

  • The Law Library has several print legal dictionaries available. One of the most frequently used is Black's Law Dictionary, 11th ed. (available in the Academic Library Reference Stacks, AWC/NAU-Yuma Campus KF156.B53 2019)
  • The major legal database available for NAU-Yuma (NexisUni) have online legal dictionaries (login required to access)
  • has a free online legal dictionary at
  • Legal research has a specific set of terms to use when searching any of the Reporters, Treatises, and Databases.  NexisUni uses Headnotes published through LexisNexis which are summary statements published at the "head" or the top of the case.