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Foreign Legal Systems - Basic Research Resources   Tags: comparative law, foreign law  

Resources for starting a search for: information about foreign legal systems; for the text of foreign laws or cases; or for discussions of how other countries approach specific legal issues or topics.
Last Updated: Jun 30, 2016 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

Getting Started Print Page

The Scope of This Guide

This guide emphasizes places to start a search for: information about foreign legal systems; for scholarly analysis other countries' approaches to specific legal issues or topics; and for the text of foreign laws or cases.

This guide is not meant to cover comprehensively all the ways to find non-U.S. law. Instead, this guide presents web sites and other resources researchers can use to expand their research about a country and its laws.

The advice here is geared to research in a mid-sized U.S. law library. For in-depth research, and especially for the text of foreign laws or cases in the original language, a visit to a large U.S. law library — the U.C. Berkeley Law Library, the Stanford Law Library, the Los Angeles County Public Law Library, or perhaps even the Library of Congress — may be in order.

Great Places to Start

These online and print sources are excellent places to start a foreign law research project.

  • Foreign Law Guide
    Short overviews of over 170 legal systems, with references to more detailed discussions. Cites to laws in the original language (and, where possible, in English) in official or other authoritative sources. [For current USF students, faculty, and staff.
  • GlobaLex - Foreign Law Research (free)
    Covers more than 135 countries. Guides describe legal systems, explain the research process, and link to primary law.
  • Free Access to Law Movement
    Links to sites offering free access to laws, legal journals, court decisions, and other materials. Includes the World Legal Information Institute as well as Legal Information Institutes and similar sites for specific countries (e.g., Canada and the Philippines) and for regions (e.g., Asia and Southern Africa). [Free.]
  • Legal Systems of the World: A Political, Social, and Cultural Encyclopedia
    A print-only source, with articles on individual countries, as well as on topics such as "Customary Law" and "Parliamentary Supremacy." Authors are recognized experts. Includes suggestions for further research. Zief location: K 48 .L44 2002 Law Reference.

Learning More About Foreign Legal Research - Web Sites


Learning More About Foreign Legal Research - Books

Cover Art
International and Foreign Legal Research: A Coursebook, 2d ed. - Marci Hoffman & Mary Rumsey
Call Number: K 85 .H64 2012 Law Reference Desk
ISBN: 9004204806
Publication Date: 2012
See especially Chapters 1-5 and Chapter 7.

Cover Art
Legal Research in a Nutshell, 12th ed. - Morris L. Cohen & Kent C. Olson
Call Number: KF 240 .C54 2016 Law Open Reserve
ISBN: 1634604628
Publication Date: 2016
Chapter 10 covers researching foreign law.

Cover Art
Accidental Tourist on the New Frontier: an Introductory Guide to Global Legal Research (1998) - Jeanne Rehberg & Radu D. Popa
Call Number: K 85 .A27 1997 Law Reference Desk
See especially chapter 3 ("Introduction to Foreign and Comparative Law") and chapter 4 ("Finding Foreign Law").

Cover Art
How to Find the Law, 9th ed. (1989) - Morris L. Cohen, Robert C. Berring, & Kent C. Olson
Call Number: KF 240 .C538 1989 Law Reference
See chapter 17. This book is now dated but is still useful.

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