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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

New Year's reception, 1921. National Photo Company collection, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

New Year’s reception, 1921. National Photo Company collection, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. //  

Ring in 2021 with Law Library of Congress U.S. Law Webinars

 Teachers and Students Take Note!

The National Constitution Center unites America’s leading scholars from diverse legal and philosophical perspectives to explore the text, history, and meaning of the U.S. Constitution.  Explore the Center's Interactive Consitution.

25TH AMENDMENT  read the sections and also discover Media Library: 25th Amendment, looking at questions such as Can the President pardon himself? covered in a podcast; and How the Consitution's 25th Amendment Works, covered in a Blog Post.

Presidential Disability and Succession

18 U.S. Code § 1752 - Restricted building or grounds

Criminal Resource Manual.  Destruction of Government Property

The Electoral College Overview and how it will work, with annotated list of dates.

Coming up: 

  • Dec. 23, 2020: Deadline for Receipt of Ballots. The electors' ballots from all states must be received by the president of the Senate by this date. There is no penalty for missing this deadline.
  • Jan. 6, 2021: Counting of the Electoral Ballots. The U.S. Congress meets in joint session to count the electoral votes.
  • Jan. 20, 2021: Inauguration Day.  The president-elect becomes the president of the United States. floor calendars 116th Congress, 2nd session ; 117th Congress, 1st session for both House & Senate, or use separate websites, below: 

United States House of Representatives 

United States Senate

Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission

Because of Covid-19 do you ★ Worry about eviction? ★ Have trouble paying your bills or debts? ★ Need help getting Unemployment, SNAP or other government benefits? ★ Worry if it is safe to go back to work? ★ Worry about your personal safety? Get legal help! These websites help you protect your rights in a wide range of civil legal issues. And you may be able to get free legal help.

Massachusetts Legal Resource Finder: Find free or low cost lawyers and legal resources near you.

MassLegalHelp: Get information, sample letters, and forms to help with a wide range of civil legal problems.  In English, with option to view in six languages.  Mass Legal Answers Online: Get answers from a lawyer through our free confidential website. Find out how the Massachusetts Courts can help you.  Call the Trial Court Helpline at 1-833-91COURT A public service message from the Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission COVID 19 Task Force -- 6.16, a MassProBono project.   MassProBono Volunteer Projects - attorneys look for volunteer work; the public may find a project for their concerns

Massachusetts Court Service Centers  Locations, services, and FAQs about beginning a court action, such as filing for divorce (Joint = 1A, Separately = 1B), child support complaint, and more.


HOUSING ISSUES DUE TO COVID-19  Expiration of Moratorium on Evictions and Foreclosures for Massachusetts was October 17, 2020, but the Federal date currently is December 31, 2020 which may be of help. 

Example: Massachusetts Legal Resource Finder  Guide Me - I have a housing problem interactive guide

Example: Housing Topic.  Find RAFT Program (Residential Assistance for Families in Transition) and other sources, like Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief fund.



COMMUNITY TRACING COLLABORATIVE -  Getting a call and other information.  Click here 

How can I verify MA COVID Team or my local health department is calling? Calls from the MA COVID Team will use the prefix 833 and 857 and your phone will say the call is from “MA COVID Team.” Calls will be made daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Your local health department will use their local phone numbers to contact you.

City of Newton Health & Human Services Department information, orders, guidance and more about COVID-19.

Form to report COVID-19 compliance concerns.  

Stop the Spread: free testing sites in Massachusetts where insurance covers testing fee.  

Newton Testing Site : City of Newton Mayor Fuller's Newsletter December 7. 2020:  COVID-19 Test Site Opens at Riverside.  Currently not covered by insurance.

COVID-19 Vaccine in Massachusetts.  When Can I Get the Vaccine?  

Visual of vaccine timeline Phases 1-3, outlined in the text below.How contact tracing works infographic




Massachusetts Bar Association's Dial-A-Lawyer

Call (617) 338-0610 between 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Dial-A-Lawyer is monthly on the first Wednesday

2021:  January 6 ; February 3 ; March 3

Law About: click on a topic when you need laws, regulations, cases, forms, orgnizations, websites click on the legal issue when you need legal help 

Massachusetts Legal Resource Finder an interactive legal help finder with "Guide Me" feature

Massachusetts Court System.  Emergency Guidance regarding Virtual Court Hearing

New! Trial Court Help Line The Help Line Call 833-91COURT (833-912-6878)  8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. 


If you need to hire a lawyer:

  1. Get an instant online referral here
  2. Call us to speak to a trained LRS representative*
  3. (Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m. - 4:45 p.m.) at (617) 654-0400 or (866) 627-7577

Massachusetts: Virtual Court Services court users can receive face-to-face virtual assistance from court staff while remaining in the safety of their own homes.  Help with Housing, Land, Middlesex  Juvenile, Probate & Family Courts and much more.

American Association of Law Libraries.  Public Library Toolkit. Beginning with a section on general legal research, scroll down for STATE-SPECIFIC PUBLIC LIBRARY TOOLKITS.  Click on the state you need, example: Massachusetts, for listings with links to resources.



If you would like to use Ask a Law Librarian a question, you may chat, send an email, or request a document.

Massachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries Document Delivery Service 

Locations and Contact Information for Massachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries

Social Law Library

New! Ask  your Massachusetts public librarian to search Social Law Library databases

Massachusetts Public Libraries: LIBRARIANS LOGIN ONLY.


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

MASSterList.  News stories from Beacon Hill.  ALSO: Job Seekers: On Mondays, check the Job Board Listings!

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

COURT.  If going to court, two helpful manuals have been published online through the Massachusetts Court System. 

STARTING POINT: Be sure to use the Courts Self-Help web pages.  

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.

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 page 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 governmental 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.