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Foreign Law Research: Where to Begin

Starting points to either collect foreign law sources or conduct in-depth foreign law research.

Step 0: Source collection or in-depth research?

For source collection, choose the relevant source page: Constitutions, Legislation, etc., and use the Source Collection resources. Also, consult Bluebook Table 2: Foreign Jurisdictions for country-specific guidance.

For in-depth research, or if your initial source collection efforts are unsuccessful, follow the steps below to locate additional country-specific guidance.

Step 1: Learn the type of legal system you're researching

Knowing the legal system (civil law, common law, mixed, etc.) for the country you're researching will frame your research. For example, judicial opinions will be far more important, and potentially easier to locate, in common law jurisdictions than civil law jurisdictions.

Step 2: Find a research guide on your country

Country research guides will introduce you to the country's sources of law. Using guides at the beginning of your research will save time by helping you understand the country's legal system, laws you can expect to find, and the most likely places to find them.

To find additional guides, search the web for:

  • [country] legal research,
  • [country] research guide,
  • [country] law research, etc.

Guides are often found on library websites, published as journal articles, or on blogs.

Also consider consulting the Bluebook for guidance on authoritative sources for laws from covered jurisdictions.

Step 3: Find an introductory book on your country (or region)

Going beyond what you find in online research guides, consider an introductory book on your country. For deep research on a country it's helpful to look beyond guides for these often more detailed discussions of the country's laws and legal system. Search for works on the country and the relevant region.

Relevant titles may include Introduction to [country/region] law/legal system Law and legal system of [country/region] or, for business-specific information, Doing business in [country/region].

Here are a few examples (some are eBooks):