On Not Reinventing the Wheel: Legal Research Guides and Locating What You Don’t Know

bikeI wish I could teach my students everything there is to know, or even everything they need to know.  But as a legal research instructor, that’s not my job — my job is to teach my students how to find what they need to know.  The advice I most often give them is to not reinvent the wheel and to use the resources that already exist to help them.  Some of the best advice I can give them is to use research guides.

Research guides come in a variety of flavors: some are collections of resources, others also include explanatory text that discusses legal background and research strategies; some include only online sources, others also add print resources; some are, others are in print.  The following are just a few of my favorite online research guides.

GlobaLex:  NYU Law School, Hauser Global Law School Program, Mirela Roznovschi, ed.  GlobaLex is a collection of legal research guides on comparative and international law topics, and foreign law organized by country.  GlobaLex guides are written by librarians and lawyers from around the world.  Each guide provides detailed explanations of areas of law, political and legal structures, and research considerations as well as links primary and secondary sources.

Electronic Resource Guide and Electronic Information System for International Law: American Society of International Law.  ASIL’s is Electronic Research Guide is an online text of strategies and resources for researching international law online.  The guide is arranged in topical chapters, each chapter discussing sources and methods for online research.  The Electronic Information System for International Law (EISIL) is an authoritative collection of primary source international law documents and websites.

NYU Federal Tax Research LibGuide:  NYU Law Library. This comprehensive research guide covers all aspects of tax law research, providing links and references to primary and secondary legal sources and databases.  Some sources may require passwords.

Gallagher Law Library Legal Research Guides:  University of Washington School of Law.  A collection of 300+ topical and “how to” research guides.  Many are on very specific topics such as “Themis, Goddess of Justice,” and “Brown v. Board of Education Websites,” which makes this collection unique.

LLRX.com:  Sabrina Pacifici, editor and publisher.  Well-known among law librarians, award-winning LLRX (Law Librarians’ Resource Exchange) has been a go-to source for advice and information about legal research and technology since 1997.  LLRX combines qualities of a research guide collection and an expert blog, making it an extremely valuable resource.

Law Scout.  University of Akron School of Law.  Law Scout is an extraordinary finding tool for legal research guides.  Law Scout searches research guides from over 140 law schools and other institutions.  Guides are browseable and searchable using both basic and advanced search features.

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