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Legal Research Manual

This edition of Legal Research Manual builds on many previous editions. While the manual is designed principally for use with the first year legal research classes, upper year law students will also find it a useful reference.

Key Free Online Legal Sources

North America


  • CanLII
    Managed by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, and part of the LII (Legal Information Institutes) network of websites around the world, CanLII provides free access to legislation, court cases, and tribunal cases from across the country. It adds new materials continually.
  • The Great Library of the Law Society of Upper Canada
    The library's primary function is to meet the legal research and information needs of Law Society members by providing access to publications, documents, and services necessary to the practice of law.
    Created with a focus on legal information and research, it now a blog about all things legal.
  • Codify Updates
    Allows you to set up notifications for when bills or Acts change.

United States

  • FindLaw
    Findlaw has sites for legal professionals, students, and the general public. This version is aimed at legal professionals and has links to dozens of law-related sites, mostly U.S.-based. You can browse for the latest legal news, case law, and analytical articles as well as search for a case or research an attorney.
  • Google Scholar's Legal Search Engine
    Includes US state appellate and supreme court cases (1950-), US federal district, appellate, tax and bankruptcy courts (1923-)and US Supreme Court cases (1791-). Make sure to click the radio button for "Case law."
  • Hieros Gamos
    Founded in 1995, was one of the first online law sites. There are many different kinds of legal directories, including law firms, legal experts and other legal services; employment, business and student centres; legal news links; and links to both U.S. and international law sites.
  • Jurist
    Based at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, Jurist is produced as a public service for the continuing legal education of its readers and law student staffers, and uses the latest Internet technology to track important legal news stories and materials and present them rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in a widely-accessible format.
  • The Legal Information Institute (LII) (Cornell University)
    The Legal Information Institute is a not-for-profit group that publishes law (case law, legislation, and other resources) online for free and creates materials to help people understand the law.
    The online database of the United States Congress legislative information.  It is a joint project of the Library of Congress, the House, and the Senate, and the Government Publishing Office.


  • Institute for Legal Studies (Instituto de Investigaciones Juridicas, UNAM)
    The Instituto de Investigaciones Juridicas is the foremost legal institute in Mexico and Latin America. The site offers a comprehensive collection of primary and secondary materials. The materials are in Spanish and are updated regularly. Federal and state legal materials are available.


United Kingdom & Ireland

  • Houses of Parliament Home Page (UK)
    A wealth of information about the UK Parliament, including bills currently being debated. It also has links to the UK Statute Law Database. This is a good general resource to learn more about the UK government system.
  • Acts of Parliament (UK)
    This site provides links to the full text of all UK Parliament Public General Acts (from 1988 onwards) and all Local Acts (from 1991 onwards) as they were originally enacted, as well as The European Communities Act 1972 and Northern Ireland Assembly Disqualification Act 1975. Legislation made prior to 1988 is only available in its original print format as before this date legislation was not produced electronically. You can also find bills currently before Parliament.
  • British and Irish Legal Information Institute (BAILII)
    A free site which allows you to search for British and Irish case law & legislation, European Union case law, Law Commission reports, and other law-related British and Irish material.


EU & Council of Europe

  • EurLex
    This gateway to EU law includes treaties, legal acts from EU institutions, preparatory documents related to EU legislation, EU case law, international agreements, EFTA documents, and national case law references concerning EU law.
  • European Union
    In addition to general information about the EU, there is an online library with links to European Law databases, case law, and summaries of legislation.
  • Council of Europe
    Founded in 1949, the Council of Europe seeks to develop throughout Europe common and democratic principles based on the European Convention on Human Rights and other reference texts on the protection of individuals. In the legal field, the Council of Europe contributes to the harmonization of Europe's legal systems on the basis of standards which are laid down within the organization. Its overall aim is to encourage the establishment and development of democratic institutions and procedures at the national, regional and local level, and to promote respect for the principles of the rule of law. In addition to a database of treaties and agreements, this site has articles on legal relationships between the nations and news briefs.

Asia and Australasia

  • Asian Legal Information Institute
    A non-profit and free access web site for legal information from 28 countries and territories in Asia located from Japan in the east to Afghanistan in the west, and from Mongolia in the north to Timor Leste in the south. You can search and browse databases of legislation, case law, law reform reports, law journals, and other legal information, where available, from each country in the region.
  • Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII)
    Free access to Australian legal information, including primary legal materials (legislation, treaties and decisions of courts and tribunals); secondary legal materials created by public bodies for purposes of public access (law reform and royal commission reports, for example); and a substantial collection of law journals.
  • Hong Kong Legal Information Institute
    Another free legal database, with access to the various Hong Kong court decisions, ordinances and regulations.
  • New Zealand Legal Information Institute (NZLII)
    Similar to AustLII, this site has decisions from different court levels as well as treaties, tribunals and periodicals.
  • Pacific Islands LII
    Based at the University of the South Pacific School of Law, PacLII includes legal materials from 20 Pacific Islands countries.


Central America

South America


  • Global Legal Information Catalog
    Created by the Library of Congress, this is a searchable database to find materials reprinting laws on a particular topic from a particular jurisdiction.
  • Parline
    A free resource from the Inter-Parliamentary Union with over 600 data points provided directly by national parliaments on their structure, composition, working methods and activities.
  • CommonLII
    The Commonwealth Legal Information Institute aims to provide one central Internet location from which it is possible to search – for free – core legal information from all Commonwealth countries, including case law, legislation, treaties, law journals and law reform reports.
  • World Legal Information Institute
    The mothership of free legal information sites, with 865 databases from 123 countries and territories via the Free Access to Law Movement.

International Organizations/International Law

  • United Nations Documents
    Browse or search for official UN documents.
  • International Court of Justice
    The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the principal judicial organ of the UN. This site contains information about the Court as well as information from all cases heard since its inception.
  • World Trade Organization
    Contains WTO legal texts in addition to many other resources such as statistics, research, reports, and a database of the WTO library.
  • International Monetary Fund
    Includes a database of IMF publications and reports as well as a wide range of data and statistics.
  • World Bank
    Contains both current and historical archives of World Bank publications and reports, as well as data, statistics, research, and information on their various projects.
  • Organization of American States
    The Organization of American States (OAS) brings together the nations of the western hemisphere to strengthen cooperation on democratic values, defend common interests and debate the major issues facing the region and the world. This site contains documents, publications, news and other information regarding their activities.
  • NATO
    This site contains basic texts of NATO agreements as well as summit and ministerial decisions, speeches, press releases and statements, and conference proceedings.

Law Journals