Introduction to Foreign Legal Research

Vanderbilt subscription databases and free sources of foreign law online

Introduction to Foreign Law Research Guides

You may use the resources below to begin foreign legal research.

I recommend starting with a research guide because it can help you to be more strategic about your research. Research guides are useful for finding out things like:

  1. What kind of legal system does the country have?
  2. What are the names of the official publications in which primary law or a particular country appears? 
  3. Where would you find an online database of primary law (in English translation)?

Not all research guides are created equal. Use your best judgment when selecting a guide. Narrative guides will be more useful than the kinds of guides that are merely lists of links. Guides that are up-to-date will be more useful than older guides because of link rot and changes in the law. Guides written by experts will be more useful than those written by lay persons. Guides with links to resources on the free web or guides from your institution will be more useful than guides with links to subscription databases from other institutions.


Foreign Law Guide



Below is an example of a link to a GlobaLex guide but there are many more. Since they are updated regularly, always check the top middle of the page to see if the guide offers you a link to an updated version.

Law Library of Congress Research Guides

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Research Guides from other Law Schools

Sometimes the only research guide available for legal research in a specific country will be from a university. Even though the links to the books and databases may be to resources available through that institution, sometimes, you may find that you can find the books linked to in WorldCat or in Vanderbilt Libraries. You may also find that some of the links are to resources that are available on the free Web. Use these guides if need be, but bear in mind the limitations.

Below are links to some sample research guides from reputable institutions.