Thursday, February 09, 2006

O CFR, CFR! Wherefore Art Thou CFR!

The default assumption for most legal research is that you want the most current version of a legal text, but what happens when you need older or superceded versions of the CFR (Code of Federal Regulations)?

Lexis and Westlaw both have older versions. In Westlaw the CFR runs from 1984-2004. The database name is CFR plus the last two digits of the year. For example CFR00 is for the CFR for the year 2000. In Lexis the CFR date from 1981- through the last calendar year. You can find them through the following links Legal > Federal Legal - U.S. > Archived Code of Federal Regulations.

If you do not have access to Westlaw or Lexis, GPO access provides free access to some older versions of the CFRs. You can get there from the GPO home page. On the Home Page you will see the heading "GPO Access Resources by Branch", then the subdivision of "Executive Resources ", and then the listing of the Code of Federal Regulations. GPO runs from 1996 through 2004-2005 (as of the date of this posting).

In order to obtain copies of the CFR before 1996, you will need to visit your local law library. In some cases you can find a posting on the web of older versions of the CFR, by a group or organization with an interest in a particular part of the CFR, but unless they are in a PDF you have no way of verifying that the text has not be altered or determining the date of the publication. Even if you do find a PDF, it is always wise to visit your law library and compare what you have found to either a print or microfiche/film resource.