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When you're involved in a dispute, there may come a time when you need to know more about the relevant law. Usually, all you'll need to know is how to find the local ordinances, state statutes, or judicial opinions that speak to your particular problem. City and county agencies and offices can often give you good advice and information. For example, a zoning or planning office may answer questions about fence height restrictions or building permits. Also, all state laws are available for free on the Internet, and you can also use the Internet to read many cities' local laws and some judicial decisions. Or, you can make a trip to your local law library.

This chapter gives basic guidelines for using the Internet and libraries to find answers to legal questions that frequently arise in small claims disputes. If you wish to delve more deeply into the law, Nolo publishes a comprehensive book called Legal Research: How to Find & Understand the Law, by Stephen Elias and Susan Levinkind. An excellent resource with links to small claims court information in all states is

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