Statutory Research Practice Exercise #2 – Dacia’s Answer

1. Find the 2010 Statute Providing Consumer Financial Protection

(a) Search terms: Consumer, Financial, Protection

(b) This search was not useful as an index search because it produced many irrelevant results. More importantly, there was no way to know whether a result was from 2010 because the U.S. Code is organized topically, not by date. In order to find statutes passed in a specific year, it is necessary to search the Public Laws.

(c) In order to find the answer, I searched the Public Laws in GPO Access.

(d) Pub. L. 111-203

(e) Pub. L. 111-203 is codified in title 12 of the U.S. Code. (I think portions are also codified in title 7 and 15.)

(f) 12 U.S.C. § 5301 through 12 U.S.C. § 5641

I found GPO Access to be the most convenient source for searching the Public Laws. I was able to search by session of congress, and the fact that GPO Access is free is a huge bonus. I knew that 2010 was the 111th Congress, so I searched GPO Access within the 111th Congress’s Public Laws, using the same search terms I had originally used. This still produced a list of 50 results, but the second result was the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Pub. L. 111-203), which fit the research question.

I was also able to find the answer searching the Public Laws in Bloomberg, and Westlaw. The search in these repositories was a little more difficult because I could not find a way to search a specific congress. In Bloomberg I restricted my dates to 1/1/10 through 12/31/10. In Westlaw I restricted my dates to “this year and last year.” This lead me to 22 results, including Pub. L. 111-203. I was not able to find the proper database to perform my search in Lexis.

I had some difficulty answering parts (e) and (f) of the question concerning where Pub. L. 11-203 is codified. I looked at the Classification Tables available through Thomas, but I am not sure if this is correct. The classification tables also indicated that portions of Pub. L. 111-203 are codified in Title 7 and Title 15. I am still having some trouble going back and forth between a public law number and a U.S. Code provision and vice versa – I’m not sure if I am doing it correctly, and I would like to talk to you about this so I can figure out what I am missing.

2. Popular Name Tables

(a) The citations for the Fair Credit Billing Act are Pub. L. 93-495, and 88 Stat. 1511.

I found this question to be easiest to answer using Westlaw. Within the USCA database, there is an option to search the Popular Name Table. The feature was easy to find and intuitive to use.

I also found the answer using Bloomberg. The Popular Name Table can be browsed alphabetically or searched. I found it to be an easy to use feature.

In the U.S. Code available through Thomas, it does not appear that you can search the Popular Name Table, but you can browse it alphabetically, and I was still able to find the answer.

I was not able to find the Popular Name Table in Lexis or GPO Access.

3. Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance

(a) As set forth in 20 U.S.C. § 1098, the purpose of the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance is:

(A) to provide extensive knowledge and understanding of the
Federal, State, and institutional programs of postsecondary
student assistance;

(B) to provide technical expertise with regard to systems of
needs analysis and application forms;

(C) to make recommendations that will result in the maintenance
of access to postsecondary education for low- and middle-income

(D) to provide knowledge and understanding of early
intervention programs, and to make recommendations that will
result in early awareness by low- and moderate-income students
and families –

(i) of their eligibility for assistance under this subchapter
and part C of subchapter I of chapter 34 of title 42; and

(ii) to the extent practicable, of their eligibility for
other forms of State and institutional need-based student

(E) to make recommendations that will expand and improve
partnerships among the Federal Government, States, institutions
of higher education, and private entities to increase the
awareness and the total amount of need-based student assistance
available to low- and moderate-income students; and

(F) to collect information on Federal regulations, and on the
impact of Federal regulations on student financial assistance and
on the cost of receiving a postsecondary education, and to make
recommendations to help streamline the regulations for
institutions of higher education from all sectors.

(b) To answer part (a), I searched the U.S. Code, through both Thomas and GPO Access, for “Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance.” Putting my search terms in quotes, I got only 4 results on GPO Access and 5 results through Thomas. The first result in each of these repositories was 20 U.S.C. § 1098, which established the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance. Skimming through § 1098, I found that subsection (a)(2) it explicitly sets forth the purpose of the Advisory committee.

The version of the Code I found on Thomas contained all subsections (A) through (F) setting forth the purpose of the Advisory Committee. The version on GPO Access, however, only contained subsections (A)-(C). I determined that the reason for this was that the GPO Access version was only current as of January 3, 2007, whereas the version I found through Thomas was current through January 7, 2011. Four years is a long time in terms of a statute’s currency. It is very problematic that it is only possible to search the 2006 edition of the U.S. Code in GPO Access.

A full text search of the USCA in Westlaw produced 9 results, one of which was 20 U.S.C. § 1098. The version was the current version of the provision. It took me longer to find the answer on Lexis, and I found Lexis to be less intuitive in its formatting.

I tried the same search in Bloomberg and did not come up with any results. When I found 20 U.S.C. § 1098 by citation, however, I saw that it contained subsections (A) through (F), and was current through October 21, 2011, which is at least one good sign for Bloomberg.