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Researching the Law in the United States for LLM Students

Resources for LLM students for research, the U.S. legal system, and studying at law school

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Law librarians and library staff are available to help you find your way around the library and its legal materials, provide research support, and assist you in locating materials that are not in our library. You can find the latest information about our hours and services on the library homepage. There are several ways to contact us:

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In Person: The Borrowing Services Desk and Reference Office are on the main floor of the law library. Online and in-person appointments with the reference staff can be made from the library homepage

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Borrowing Services Desk: (650) 723-2477
Reference Desk: (650) 725-0800


On this page, you'll find resources for learning more about the structure of the U.S. government. Sources explain separation of powers, which divides the government into three branches; federalism, under which the federal government shares governing power with the state governments; and the U.S. Constitution, which provides the basis for the government's power.

Separation of Powers & Federalism


In addition to the separation of powers between the three branches of the federal government, the United States also divides power between the states and federal government. The relationship between state governments and the federal government is called federalism.

The books below provide introductions to federalism.

Separation of Powers

The United States is a constitutional republic, which means that officials are elected as representatives of the people and in which a constitution sets out the rules of government.

The U.S. has three branches of government (legislative, judicial, and executive), each of which has separate powers and can provide checks and balances against either of the other two branches. The Government Publishing Office's infographic provides a visual explanation of the powers, checks, and balances of each branch.

Below, we've provided links to books that you can check out from the law library that discuss separation of powers and the structure of the U.S. government.

U.S. Constitution

The U.S. Constitution provides the basis for the U.S. government system. You can review the literal print of the U.S. Constitution, as well as the Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The below resources provide analyses and discussions of the Constitution and its role in the U.S. legal system.