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Legal Research Basics: Getting Started

Getting Started with Legal Research

Develop a legal research strategy and add these tips and tools to your legal research checklist. It is often helpful to begin your research in an unfamiliar area of law with a secondary source like a research guide. Below you'll find a list of our favorite legal research guides as well as tips on how to find others.

Law Library Research Guides

Search Online

To find a research guide on your specific topic, search for [type of law] research guide. Example: health law research guide, or constitutional law research guide. Limit results to academic institutions by adding inurl:.edu to your search. Example: health law research guide inurl:.edu or constitutional law research guide inurl:.edu. Research guides are sometimes called "pathfinders" or an "annotated bibliography" so vary your search terms to include those terms. Example: health law pathfinder, or health law "annotated bibliography".

Search the Catalog
Search the catalog for the subject headings "legal research" or "law bibliography" or do a keyword search for [legal topic] legal research. Example: animal rights legal research

To do a subject heading search in Primo, choose Advanced Search at the top, right-hand side of the page, then select Subject from the drop-down menu.

Specialized Legal Research Books

There are many specialized legal research books in the library. Search for them under the subject Legal Research - United States (or other jurisdiction).

Below is a sample of the type of specialized legal research books available in the library or online through a library database. 

Research Help

Contact a research librarian for help with an assignment, project, or resource. 

Hours: Mon-Fri, 11am-5pm
503-768-6688
lawlib@lclark.edu

Reference Hours