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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.

Stage 2: Initial Research

1.  Start with a good book on the topic.
2.  Find a relevant article.
3.  Consult a legal encyclopedia.


Sometimes all you know are the facts of your legal problem. You have no idea what the legal issue is, and you may not even know what the legal subject or topic is. When doing initial research, you are trying to conduct a broad overview of the relevant sources in order to come to an understanding of the issues and to note key cases and statutes.

1. Start with a good book on the topic

Browsing through relevant legal texts is still the best starting point. They will logically set out the issues, provide an analytical framework, and discuss legislation and leading cases.

You should do a search of Omni, the library's academic search tool, to find a Canadian text that analyzes your topic. You can browse the law library's Libguides for core print and ebooks on your subject. You can browse print copies of core legal texts are located in the Law Library's Reserve Collection.

2. Find a relevant journal article

Consult our page on searching for journal literature in this guide.

3. Consult a legal encyclopedia

Consult our page on using legal encyclopedias in this guide.