Introduction to Foreign Legal Research: Research Guides

Research guides can help the foreign legal researcher:

  1. Gain an understanding of the legal system in a particular jurisdiction (whether it is predominantly a common or civil law system, or blended, incorporating religious or customary law), thereby helping them to understand what sources of law may be relevant to their question (ex. is judicial precedent binding, published?);
  2. Identify the official publications providing primary law in the jurisdiction, and/or reputable secondary sources that publish or discuss the primary law of the jurisdiction; and
  3. Identify online databases containing primary law from that jurisdiction, whether in the jurisdiction's official language(s), or offering translations.

Some guides provide narrative descriptions of content, while others are merely lists of hyperlinks.  When consulting research guides: 

  • Always check for currency; older guides may not reflect recent changes in the law, and more likely to contain dead hyperlinks (though the citation information or general URL may nevertheless prove useful).
  • Determine the guide's authorship and consider the author's level of expertise.

Note that some guides will contain links to subscription resources available at the author's institution.  Hyperlinks to that content as hosted by another institution are of limited value to you as a VU patron, but if an item is of interest, look to the Vanderbilt library catalog or our list of databases to determine whether we may hold it.

Tools for Identifying the Legal System & Other Background

Foreign Law Guide

Research Guides from Academic Libraries

You may also locate legal research guides for a specific jurisdiction or region from a university or other research library. Even though the links to the books and databases provided therein may be to resources available for that institution's patrons, you may find that you can find that the books are available at Vanderbilt Libraries.  Items not available at Vanderbilt may be available for lending from other research libraries via Interlibrary Loan.  Subscription databases cited may likewise be available at VU.

Below are links to a few examples of research guides from reputable institutions.  When searching the web for legal research guides discussing a particular jurisdiction, you are likely to find similar guides.



Law Library of Congress Research Guides

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