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English Law: Secondary Resources

Introduction and Table of Contents to Secondary Resources

Using a secondary resource at the appropriate point in the research process can save you time and provide essential context to your entire research project.  Below is a listing of various types of secondary resources.  Click on the type of secondary resource of interest to you to arrive at a box with further details.

Dictionaries and encyclopedias

Halsbury's Laws of England

Online Research Guides

Periodicals and law review articles

Finding articles using a print index

Finding articles using an electronic index

Finding articles using a full-text database

Subject heading search to find other books in a library collection

Texts and course books


Halsbury's Laws of England

Halsbury's Laws of England is a unique publication that is a hybrid between an encyclopedia and a treatise. It offers select primary law as well as authoritative commentary. Use it at the start of the research process to obtain a summary of the law and references to relevant case law and legislation.

Research gathered through Halsbury's must be updated using both the Cumulative Supplement and the Noter-up Service.  First use the General Index to the Cumulative Supplement to find the correct volume and paragraph number.   If you don't find an entry in the correct volume for the paragraph number then there has been no change since the main volume was printed.  Because the Cumulative Supplement is published annually it is necessary to update that supplement with the Noter-up Service.  The Noter-up Service is a loose-leaf binder that contains very recent updates.  The process is the same for this service.  Check the volume number and the paragraph number for your topic.  If there is no entry, there are no recent changes.

Online Research Guides

When conducting research in a foreign jurisdiction it is a valuable practice to start by finding a reputable research guide.  Research guides will offer general background information on the legal system as well as the official publications for statutes, case law, and administrative materials.

Reynolds and Flores' Foreign Law Guide is an online subscription that must be access through the catalog.  All individual guides in the Foreign Law Guide contain background information on the jurisdiction, structure of the legal system, as well as links to official or highly reputable websites for legal materials.  The English law research guide may be accessed through England, Britain, Great Britain, or United Kingdom. 

Globalex offers a variety of research guides authored by experts in the subject area.  Globalex divides its guides between international, foreign, and comparative law research guides.  These guides are authored by credible librarians or legal practitioners and are regularly updated.  Information about the authors of the guides are available so that users may make their own assessment of credibility. The English law guide is accessed through "United Kingdom."  Be sure to check both the guide as well as the update for complete information.

There are a number of other English law research guides available online that can be uncovered using a simple Google search.  Consider using the websites of law schools (e.g., Oxford) that have law libraries to find reputable guides prepared by law librarians. 

Finding law review articles using a print index

Legal research is not complete unless you have consulted an index for law articles and journals.  Although many articles are contained in the variety of full-text databases available to the legal researcher, there are many articles that are not included in these databases.  The index will offer a list of citations to relevant journal articles.   Use the journal title from these citations to search full-text databases or MarqCat to find the articles.


Finding law review articles using electronic indexes

HeinOnline:  HeinOnline offers electronic access to The Index to Periodical Articles Related to Law spans the years 1958 - 2007 (or vols. 1 - 49).  In Hein, the index can be searched by article title, creator/author, journal title, and subject.  Hein provides a link to the full text of the article if it is located within HeinOnline's full-text article database.

HeinOnline also offers electronic access to the Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals (IFLP) from 1985 to present. The IFLP may be searched by title, creator/author, journal title, and subject.  Hein offers a link to the full text of the article if it is offered within the HEIN law journals database.  As well, HeniOnline offers a pdf version of the print Index back to 1960. 

    LegalTrac  This service indexes over 800 legal publications and covers law related articles from over 1,000 business and general interest publications with coverage from 1980 to present. Full-text articles and abstracts are available for limited titles.  The print version of LegalTrac is the Current Law Index . The online version is updated more frequently than the print version.  Access to Legaltrac is available through various options listed below.

    • Patrons can access LegalTrac on the library home page under Databases & Subscriptions or via the text links located on this page.
    • In LexisNexis, it is available as the database LGLIND.
    • In Westlaw, LegalTrac is found as database LRI

    LexisNexis:  Lexis' coverage of various electronic indexes includes access to the Legal Resource Index and the Index to Legal Periodicals.

    • The Legal Resource Index database identifier is LGLIND.  It indexes over 700 legal resources from January of 1977 to the present.
    • The Index to Legal Periodicals database is no longer available through Lexis.

    ProQuest  ProQuest Research Library provides indexing, abstracts and select full-text or full-images of articles in a wide range of magazines and journals. It includes general interest and news publications as well as selected scholarly journals. Consider using ProQuest for locating interdisciplinary articles.  Remember that not all articles found in ProQuest are peer-reviewed.

    Westlaw: Westlaw provides electronic access to the Current Index to Legal Periodicals, the Index to Legal Periodicals, the Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals, and LegalTrac. 

    • The Current Index to Legal Periodicals database identifier is: CILP.  Coverage is limited to the most recent 8 weeks, however it is updated weekly - indexing articles from more than 300 legal periodicals.
    • The Index to Legal Periodicals database identifier is: ILP.  This index contains articles from more than 500 legal journals, yearbooks, institutes, bar associations, universities, law reviews, and government publications.  These materials are from the United States, Puerto Rico, Great Britain, Ireland, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.  Coverage begins in 1981.
    • The Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals database identifier is: IFLP.  This database contains the all content of the print version of the Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals and contains indices to selected legal periodicals dealing with public and private international law, comparative law, and municipal law of countries other than the United States and British Isle that have a common law basis.
    • LegalTrac is found as database LRI.  Coverage begins in 1980 and covers documents from over 850 journals from the United States, Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand and Australia.



    Finding law review articles searching full-text databases

    HeinOnline is a full-image, full-coverage database of more than 1,300 law and law related journals. Coverage of included journals begins with volume 1, issue 1, and continues forward.  HeinOnline is a valuable resource because it uses portable document format ("PDF") images of the journal pages. 

    JSTOR contains almost 400 journals covering business, ecology, economics, finance, management, history, mathematics, political science, population studies, language, literature and science.  Articles are available in full text and searchable.  This database is useful for those conducting interdisciplinary research.

    Lexis Academic Universe provides access to the full-text of over 500 academic law journals and reviews.

    • To locate a specific legal periodical, select the Sources tab and then Law Reviews and Journals.  After selecting the desired journal(s), select OK.  Continue on the right side of the page and begin searching for the appropriate subject. 
    • Another option is to select "Legal Research" and "Law Reviews" and then conduct either a Natural Language or Terms & Connectors search

    Lexis provides various access points to legal periodicals.  Using Terms & Connectors, Natural Language, or Easy Search searching methods, various databases for full-text articles can be found- coverage will vary depending on the source, so check the scope of the database.  Several options are detailed below. 

    • The Law Reviews, CLE, Legal Journals & Periodicals, Combined database (LGLPUB) indexes over 900 different titles falling into this category.  These articles are then ordered by level of importance: Law Reviews, Bar Journals, ABA Journals, Legal Newspapers, Legal Newsletters, Specialty Legal Publications, and CLE Materials.
    • The US Law Reviews and Journals, Combined (ALLUS) covers the full text of various American law reviews and journals starting in the year 1982. 
    • The US & Canadian Law Reviews, Combined database (ALLREV) offers full-text searching of law reviews from the US and Canada from 1982 to present.
    • The Combined Canadian Law Reviews database (ALLCAN) allows the user to search Canadian law reviews with coverage varying by publication.
    • The ABA Journals, Combined database (ALLABA) allows for full-text searching of ABA Journals from November of 1981 to the present.
    • The Bar Journals database (BARJNL) contains materials from state bars from 1994 to present.
    • The Martindale-Hubbell Legal Articles database (MHART) contains more than 12,000 fully searchable articles discussing attorney insights into various aspects of the law, commentary, and other professional developments.  Its coverage spans from December of 2004 to the present.

    The Westlaw legal research website offers multiple access points to legal periodicals.  Using Natural Language or Terms & Connectors various databases can be searched.  Several database options are discussed below.

    • The TP-ALL database allows for full-text searching of law reviews, texts, American Law Reports, legal encyclopedias, CLE course materials, bar journals, and legal practice oriented periodicals.  Full coverage is an option for many of the periodicals, but check the coverage dates.
    • The JLR database allows for full-text searching of law reviews, journals, and CLE course materials.  Much like the TP-ALL database, full coverage is an option for many of the periodicals but not all of them.
    • The WORLD-JLR database contains periodical articles from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and other countries.  The coverage will vary by publication.
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    Using subject headings to find additional secondary resources

    Secondary resources are a valuable starting point when conducting international legal research.  Oftentimes, consulting a good secondary resource will save you hours of independent research. 

    If you are starting with a secondary resource that is particularly relevant you may check the catalog record and use it to find all other books similarly catalogued.   To do this, take your known title, conduct a title search and then scroll down in the catalog record until you arrive at the subject line.  You will notice the Library of Congress subject headings listed.  These are links that you may click to obtain a listing of all other books that have been classified with the same subject heading.  Alternatively, you can use the following subject headings and search any library catalog using a subject heading search (as opposed to a keyword, title or author search). If you find a book from another library that is not available at Eckstein Law Library you may request that book through interlibrary loan.

    law - bibliography - Great Britain

    international law - legal research

    legal research

    Texts and Course Books

    Textbooks and course books may be used when you are looking for a basic level of comprehension related to a particular topic or legal concept.

    To check availability, simply click on the cover or title to the book.


    Treatises offer comprehensive coverage of a single area of the law. In addition to containing excerpts of relevant primary law and/or citation to primary law, treatises offer valuable explanation and commentary on the law.  Treatises are generally written by editorial staff, lawyers or professors.

    To find treatises in the collection, conduct a word search in the catalog using the term "treatise" as well as a couple of other words that describe your research topic. For example:  treatise english law or treatise european union.

    Dictionaries and Encyclopedias

    Dictionaries and encyclopedias may be used throughout the research process whenever you come across a word or legal concept that is unfamiliar to you.

    Steps to Decipher Legal Abbreviations

    Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations is an online tool to help you convert abbreviations to full title for commonly used for English language legal publications.  Database covers more than 295 jurisdictions worldwide.  Index is bi-directional.


    Prince's Bieber Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations is a bi-directional dictionary of abbreviations.  It is available in print.

    World Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations is a 4 volume print set available in the reference collection, 1st floor.

    UN Acronyms may be consulted if you suspect the acronym relates to UN matters. 

    As a last resort, run a full-text search in a legal journals databases (e.g. HEIN law journals library) to see whether another author has used and defined the abbreviation.

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