Attorneys love to give law clerks and new associates research problems involving multiple jurisdictions. These can be extremely time consuming to compile AND difficult to compile because different statutes can use different language to describe the same thing and you won’t know what terms each jurisdiction uses. Look at drunk driving statutes as an example. Some call it driving while intoxicated (DWI), some call it operating while intoxicated (OWI), some call it driving under the influence (DUI) etc. If someone had already done all or part of the work for you, why not take advantage of that? That’s where the 50-state surveys come in. Just be aware going in that there is no guarantee that a survey exists on the topic you need and that these surveys are just a starting point. You should also consult the primary sources—the state laws themselves. Surveys can be very useful guides, but you will need to update and verify them before relying on them.
This guide is based on a guide of the same name by Susan Boland, Associate Director for Public & Research Services at the University of Cincinnati's College of Law Library.