How to find law section referenced with 'section sign'

Read any section of law, legal brief or the like and you’ll find somebody referencing a section of law simply as §167 or the like.

How do you know the article, title, chapter (i.e. what we’d call it a file pathin I.T.) that contains that section?

The few times I’ve looked up a reference, I had to dig my way down by guessing based on context. I know lawyers have to have a better way (given how valuable/expensive their time is).

Do you have any specific examples? The only times I can think when I see that are when the whole citation was mentioned earlier, or when it should be really clear to the reader from context, or when it’s a really well known law, like referring to a § 1983 action.

In most legal documents you’d find the entire citation, not just §167. You’d see, 18 USC §167, at least the first time the statute was mentioned.

If you saw §167 of the Tort Claim Forgetfulness Act, you might know what they mean if that’s your area of practice. Otherwise, I’d google it.

ETA: what pravnik said

Yeah, that would make it a lot easier to find. I’m used to seeing just §512f (section of DMCA regarding false copyright claims). Also, I was thinking section numbers started at 0 for each chapter.

Side notes: I picked 167 simply because it’s the Alt+0xxx code for §.

Just to add further confusion, the section numbers of the act may not align with the section numbers of the US Code… if the act is even codified!

So, Congress could pass an act which reads like this:

The Ravenman Nobility Trust Act of 2014

Section 1. Title 27 of the United States code is amended by adding at the end the following text: “Section 299. The male heirs of Ravenman shall in perpetuity be granted annually a dram of rum and a good hearty handshake by the President.”

Section 2. [Technical and conforming changes]

So, section 1 of the bill creates a codified statute at section 299 of title 27. The same provision could be cited as being two different sections, one relating to the act and one relating to the US Code.

Posting from Canada, so practice may be a bit different, but the first time we refer to a provision, we give the full citation: Criminal Code, RSC 1985, c C-46, s 253.

“RSC” stand for “Revised Statutes of Canada,” the “c” means “chapter”, “C-46” means it’s the 46th statute with a title starting with “c”, and “s 253” means it’s the 253rd section.

Subsequent references omit the full name and citation: “Code, supra, s 198.” If you’re reading it, you know the full citation is earlier in the brief.

[Nitpicking]Congress could pass that, but of course Section 9* means that no court is going to enforce it. Next time, try just passing the Ravenman Lifetime Rum and Handshake Act; that should pass muster[/Nitpicking]

  • I actually don’t know the formal legal citation for the U.S. Constitution Article 1, or I’d give it down here in the footnote, since I feel the OP’s pain.

Just because I never get to use the ol’ trusty Bluebook as a transactional lawyer:

U.S. Const. art. I, sec. 9, cl. 8.


“John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it!”

[Throws down gloves in protest]