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Law: QuickStart Guide

This guide is intended to serve as a starting point for finding legal information and is intended for public library users and librarians.

What's New or Timely

IAN Nonprofit Resource Center

Greater Boston Legal Services - Immigration Unit (Boston Office)

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Irish International Immigration Center's Free Legal Clinics for Immigration Assistance Calendar in Boston


The Library of Congress : Women's History Month

Women's Suffrage Right : The Nineteenth Amendment

From the Timeline on Woman Suffrage [sic] in Massachusetts.


Polly Welts Kaufman’s Boston Women and City School Politics, 1872-1905 (New York: Garland, 1994) notes that the 1780 Massachusetts State Constitution omits the word “male” as a qualification for elective office (but left as a qualification for voting).  Read more.

New England Historical Society

lydia chapin taft

Lydia Chapin Taft was the first woman to legally vote in New England.  Read more.


The cookbook was printed to raise money for the Woman Suffrage Association, and it included recipes from famous suffragists, Boston Brahmins, a governor’s wife and prominent women doctors, ministers and journalists.  Read more

Shannon Family Papers

From 1854 through 1856 Mary, Jr. attended West Newton English and Classical School under the tutelage of Nathaniel Topliff Allen. Mary, Sr.s active interest in educational reform, womens suffrage and the abolitionist movement influenced the younger Mary to lend her considerable social and financial influence to the numerous charities associated with these causes.  Read more.

The Wisdom of Immigrant Women: Lecture Series Explores How Female Immigrants Adapted to Life in Newton More than 100 Years Ago.

Lecture Series Calendar

Law About -- pick a topic and find Massachusetts and federal legislation, cases, agency regulations. and related forms.




Massachusetts Bar Association's Dial-A-Lawyer offers free legal advice on the first Wednesday of each month.

2018:  January 3 , February 7 , March 7, April 4, May 2, June 6

Call (617) 338-0610 on the first Wednesday of the month between 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Massachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries Document Delivery Service

New! Ask a public librarian to search Social Law Library databases.  Librarians ONLY.

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Bills in the news --Track Congress with

MASSterList - your go-to source for Massachusetts political news and commentary. Every day.

MASSterList.  News from Beacon Hill

New & Recent Published Opinions (and Lists of Unpublished Decisions): Newly published opinions and a list of unpublished opinions for judgments. 

Register for E-mail Notification by Topic

Reporter of Decisions: New and archived published and unpublished opinions

State Legislature Website

Supreme Court of the United States

Oral Arguments by the week, plus transcripts, audio and much more.




Emergency Related Help

Know Your Zone logo

Hurricane zones with a link to individual maps for cities and towns.

Law Guide: How to Use

Intended for the public library user and non-law librarian, Law Guide  is a legal resources self- help center providing authoritative and accessible web links.

Teach yourself and teach others. Learn basic legal terms, how to read a citation, review your civics education, and continue to proceed through your search for legal information.  Left Frame: Legal Literacy ; Legal Research Help ; Legal Topics

If going to court, two helpful manuals have been published online through the Massachusetts Court System.  These have been linked.  Left Frame:   Mass. Court System

The first manual, released in June 2010, is entitled Serving the Self-Represented Litigant: a guide by and for the Massachusetts Court Staff.  A second guide, Representing Yourself in a Civil Case: Things to Consider When Going to Court.  Together they are excellent preparation when faced with the prospect of going to court.

 Find court forms by departmental court, such as Family and Probate Court.  Left Frame: Mass. Court System.

Use the Legal Forms tab if you need additional resources for legal forms.

Trends reported by the National Center for State Courts and the Self Represented Litigation Network show an increase in persons with legal issues representing themselves, that is, going pro se, or cutting costs using limited representation by attorneys, and mediation over having a court determine the outcome. The Access to Justice Initiative is a growing movement, official in over thirty states, including Massachusetts.

1st Base

Lawyers and Legal Help tab offers a starting point to finding the assistance you need for finding legal information and a resolution to your situation.

Legal Literacy provides instruction to be used by the public and nonlaw librarians to grasp the basics of looking for legal information.

Use Legal Research Help to find a legal definition, learn to read a legal citation, and find basic websites and books about legal research. 


2nd Base

Focus your question by subject area of law

Look through the Legal Topics tab for Massachusetts subjects providing relevant legal citations and links to general laws, regulations, cases and forms. There is also extensive information and links for Federal topics.  Further forms may be found under the Forms tab.

Try to evaluate the governing authority to get around the bases further. 

For a local City of Newton ordinance, form or permit application, Newton residents see Newton Resources; otherwise residents of other locales consult Massachusetts Cities and Towns for Bylaws and Ordinances, or Laws of Other States and Locales. 

Are you searching for a bill, pending legislation, a session law, an Act & Resolve, or a codified general law?  Consult the Massachusetts General Laws tab.  Have you been given a legal citation for a regulation?  Click on Massachusetts Code of Regulations (CMR).

Going to court and need a form?  Click on Legal Forms and Massachusetts Courts blue tabs to get started.  Find a Court Locator from the Massachusetts Court System and the United States Courts court locator.  Look for forms specific to the court where you will file the form. 

Tracking court decisions or legislation in the news?  See Legal News, Laws of Other States, or Federal Primary Law, or the appropriate Massachusetts tab.   

Cases might have been decided in Massachusetts, but what jurisdiction and what departments?: state or federal?  District Court, Superior Court, Bankruptcy Court, Land Court, Housing Court, Probate and Family Court?  Was the decision appealed?  Did it move on to the Supreme Judicial Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts?  to the United States Supreme Court?  To the highest court in another state? See Legal News, Massachusetts Courts, Laws of Other States, Federal Primary Law.

3rd Base

You may now have gathered enough background information to proceed to a city department, have a hearing, consult with an attorney, mediate a problem or go to court.   Find rules of court and related forms under the Massachusetts Court or Federal Primary Law tabs.  Hopefully a resolution will be achieved, and you can return to Home Plate.   The next time you have a legal question, begin again from Home Plate at the Newton Free Library's Legal Information Self Help Center LibGuide.


Do you have a LAW QUESTION???  Ask a law librarian. 

ALSO: Dial-a-Lawyer for free, 5:30-7:30 pm on the 1st Wednesday of every month.  Coming up 2017: March 1 ; April 5 ; May 3 ; June 7 ; July 5 ; August 2 ; September 6 ; October 4 ; November 1 ; December 6

"To use Dial-A-Lawyer, call (617) 338-0610 on the first Wednesday of the month between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m."


Quick Tour

Explore the blue tabs and the weekly "What's New" block on this page.  For further guidance, read through this Home Plate webpage box: How to Use.  Use the Search this Guide bar above and to the right if you need help finding your resource.

Ask Us

Phone: 617-796-1380
Address: 330 Homer St, Newton MA