The Legal Research Process Methods will vary according to the nature of the problem and will depend on the researchers subject expertise and research skills. In the end, you must develop the research and writing methodology that you find most effective. (Roy M. Mersky & Donald J. Dunn, Fundamentals of Legal Research (8 th ed. 2002).
In order to carry out effective legal research, you will need to know what resources are available, and when and how to use them. Will you be able to handle the question without consulting an attorney in the foreign jurisdiction or a specialist in that jurisdiction?
Things to think about For what country? Are you looking for a case, code, statute, administrative rule or decision, treaty, secondary sources etc.? Can you understand the language? On what topic? How recent do the materials have to be? Do you know anything about the legal/political system?
Important: The Big Picture Always get an overview of the subject area before getting specific. Learn what to look for in your jurisdiction. The best strategy is almost always to use a combination of search tools and techniques. Berring: How to Find the Law (9 th ed. 1989).
Keep in Mind that: The materials may be more difficult to get to than U.S. materials. The publication process and hierarchy of foreign law may also differ from what a US educated lawyer is used to working with.
Search Strategies Jurisdictional by country or organization Topical Check out web pathfinders at prominent research libraries
Deciphering citations – often a difficult task Biebers Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations for sources published in Anglo-American countries for a citation (Law Reserve KF246.B52001) The Bluebook, in its Tables (T.2), offers a passable list of important foreign statutory publications and case reporters that helps to make sense of their full titles, chronology and coverage.
Indexes - Databases Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals Legal Track Index to Legal Periodicals
Subscription Databases: Foreign and International Law Consult subscription databases at http://www.law.wustl.edu/library/datab ase/libint.asp http://www.law.wustl.edu/library/datab ase/libint.asp
Non-Legal Periodical Indexes may also Provide Useful Information For a complete list, go to Olin's website and select "Databases: Journal Indexes & More
Internet Caveats Anybody can post anything to the Web, it is therefore important to evaluate information with a critical eye. Not everything is available on the Web. If you don't know the source of the information, take it with two grains of salt! (Washington University in St. Louis School of Law Library)
8 Possible Steps in Identifying and Locating International and Foreign materials 1. Consult pathfinders. 2. Consult the librarys catalog for text books by subject /title or keyword. 3. Search WorldCat/First Search for sources that are not in our library. 4. Search in indexes/databases for articles.
5. Search for Country and Organization WebPages on Google. 6. Do a topic search on Google. 7. Ask a law librarian to help you. 8. Join a list serv.
Summary Some times a research question is just a telephone call away. Remember to educate yourself both with regards to the history, culture, geography - as well as the legal system you are researching. Remember to authenticate your work.
Foreign Law Exercise Answer the questions below. COUNTRY: ______________________________ 1. Is there a research guide, an article, or a book (or a chapter within a book) that describes the legal system of your the country you have selected for your presentation? Describe the process you used to locate this material. Provide the bibliographic information (location of publisher, publisher, date) about the book or article and provide an annotation describing the source (use the Legal Sources Worksheet as a guide for the information to include in the annotation). Include the relevant Library of Congress subject headings.
2. Does your country publish codes, an official gazette, statutory compilations, or session laws? What tool did you use to find out this information? If possible, list at least two of the relevant sources for legislation. If your country is not English speaking, are there any sources of legislation available in English? What Library of Congress subject headings would you use to locate these tools on a library online catalog?
3. Does your country publish its case law? If possible, describe two sources for court decisions. If not, provide an explanation why there are no such publications. 4. Can you locate a web site that provides access to the laws for your country (either a free site or by subscription)? Describe how you located this web site and what kind of information is available.
Sources Morris L. Cohen et. al, How to Find the Law (9 th ed. 1989). Roy M. Mersky & Donald J. Dunn, Fundamentals of Legal Research (8 th ed. 2002). Websites listed in this presentation. Questions in this presentation are adapted from Marci Hoffmans Spring 2003 International and Foreign Legal Research Seminar at: http://www.ll.georgetown.edu/webpages/mhoffman/iflr/foreignlawexercise.do c. (no longer accessible) She is the International & Foreign Law Librarian at the E.B. Williams Law Library, Georgetown University Law Center. http://www.ll.georgetown.edu/webpages/mhoffman/iflr/foreignlawexercise.do c