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Thinking About Legal Research Problems

By Paul D. Callister, JD, MSLIS

Library Director & Associate Professor of Law

Find out everything you can about the research problem.Determine whether primary, secondary or combined sources are most appropriate.For primary materials, determine the kind of law, jurisdiction and appropriate arrangement.Putting all of the factors together to find a relevant document.How to be thorough after you have found a relevant document.

Problems TypeKnown Item Subject Institutional Statistical Special Techniques News Reference
Search Type
Used For
Reference You need basic background or definitional information. I need to know the etymology of "Escrow."  What is "Brehon law"?

Subscription Databases


UMKC Library Database Page (by Subject)

Encyclopaedia Britannica & Merriam-Webster Dictionary & Thesaurus

Oxford English Dictionary

Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia

Marquis Who’s Who on the Web




Research on the Web



Findlaw Legal Dictionary http://stu.findlaw.com/journals

Martindale Lawyer Directory http://www.martindale.com

Zimmerman Research Guide http://www.lexis.com/infropro/zimmerman/

General Encyclopedias, Dictionaries & Reference Resources

Encyclopedia.com http://www.encyclopedia.com

EU Dictionary (EuroDicAutom) http://europa.eu.int/eurodicautom/Controller

Virtual Reference Desk (Library of Congress--Quotations, Almanacs, Atlases, etc.) http://www.loc.gov/rr/askalib/virtualref.html

Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page

Wiktionary http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Wiktionary

General Archives

Google Book Search http://books.google.com

Google Scholar http://scholar.google.com/

Internet Archive http://www.archive.org/details/texts

Oaister http://oaister.umdl.umich.edu/o/oaister


Other Resources

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Last Update: 01/21/2011  

© 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 Paul D. Callister