Skip to Main Content

Guide to Legal Research: Legal Research

An introduction to the Library's holdings on Legal Research Skills


Legal research guide

Guide last update by Katherine Read, August 2023

About the author KR

This guide was created by Katherine Read, Principal Library Assistant at the IALS Library.


Profile photo of Katherine Read

Your comments

We'd love to hear your comments about this Research Guide.


In this guide

This guide aims to give a brief introduction to the Library's holdings on Legal Research. Please consult the Library Catalogue for complete information on current titles and locations. If you require further assistance please contact us.

Monday-Friday 9:30-17:00
Tel (0)20 7862 5790

Introduction to the Library Catalogue

This Subject Guide only lists a selection of Library resources to assist with Legal Research. To find additional resources you will need to search the Library Catalogue, which covers the complete holdings of the Library. It is possible to search for books, journals and series of law reports by author, title or keyword. Please note it is not possible to search for individual chapters, journal articles or legislation (e.g. individual Acts or SIs).

IALS Library is mainly open access and readers are able to browse the shelves in the main collection. There are two main exceptions to this:

  • Older items (marked RES or Depository on the catalogue record) are kept in the closed basement.
  • Key texts for LLM students are often kept in the Short Loan collection.

Please request these at the Library Enquiry Desk.

For more information on understanding the catalogue record and further guidance on the location of materials please refer to our guide Classmarks and the Location of Resources in the Library.

Guides to Legal Research and Study Skills

The Library classifies textbooks either by jurisdiction (GO13, GA2 etc.) or according to subject area, examples of which include Comparative Law (SB), Public International Law (SG) and Private International Law/ Conflict of Laws (SH). Textbooks on Common Law topics for Common Law jurisdictions (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, UK, USA) are shelved in a special section (SJ). All classmark sections have a FOL section for oversize volumes, which is located on the same floor of the Library.

When you are searching the Library Catalogue for books, please note that only the current edition is held on the open shelves or in the Short Loan collection. IALS has a rich collection of previous editions held in the closed basement and these will display a Depository number on the catalogue. Please request previous editions from the Library Enquiry Desk.

Guides to research skills are mainly shelved at RF60

The following list represents a selection of textbooks on  research skills.  Please check the catalogue records for further information and location:


Armstrong, J. Where the law is: an introduction to advanced legal research  2018

Allbon, E. Legal Research: a practitioner's handbook 3rd ed. 2019

Bell, J.    Doing your research project 6th ed. 2014 reprint.

Barkan, S. et al.   Fundamentals of legal research  10th ed. 2015

Blaxter, L. et al.   How to research. 3rd ed. OUP 2010  (e-book)

The Bluebook: a uniform system of citation  20th ed. 2015

Bradney, A.   How to study law  9th ed. 2021

Cryer, R. et al.   Research methodologies in EU and international law  2011

Finch, E. & Fafinski, S.   Legal skills    9th ed. 2023

Grant, F.  Legal research skills for Scots lawyers  4th ed. 2021 

Hanson, S.  Learning legal skills and reasoning   2016

Higgins, E & Tatham, L.   Successful legal writing  2015

Hoffman, M.  International and foreign legal research: a coursebook  2nd ed. 2013

Holborn, G.    Butterworths legal research guide. 2nd ed.  2001   

Holland, J.A.     Learning legal rules : a students’ guide to legal method and reasoning  9th ed. 2016

Howard, K. et al.    Management of a student research project  3rd ed. 2002

Hutchinson, T.     Researching and writing in law.  2006

Kenny, P.H.  Studying law. 5th ed. 2002

Knowles, J.   Effective legal research 4th ed. 2016

Lomio, J. Paul et al.   Legal research methods in a modern world  3rd ed. 2011

May, T.     Social research. Issues, methods and process. 5th ed.  OUP 2022 

Morris, C. & Murphy, C.    Getting a PhD in law  2011

Olson, Kent C.    Principles of legal research.  2nd ed. 2015

Reynolds, T. & Flores, A.    Foreign law: current sources of codes and basic legislation in jurisdictions of the world  2000-   Brill (e-book)

Riley, A. & Sours, P.    Common Law legal English and grammar: a contextual approach   2014

Salter, A. & Mason, J.   Writing law dissertations: an introduction and guide to the conduct of legal research  2007

Watkins, D. &  Burton, M.    Research methods in law  2nd ed. 2018

Webley, L.    Legal writing  4th ed. 2016

Williams, G. & Smith, A. (ed.)    Glanville Williams: learning the law 17th ed. 2020

Zillman, D. & Roth, E.J.     Strategic legal writing   2008

Free internet sources

Eagle-i is an internet portal maintained and updated by IALS library staff. It allows you to search for quality web resources on banking and financial law.

A valuable free source is BAILII, the British and Irish Legal information Institute which is based and maintained at IALS. It provides free access to full text UK judgments and legislation on a wide range of subjects including banking and financial law and also links to other free World Law databases. Jurisdictions covered in these resources include Commonwealth countries eg. AustLII  (Australia) and CanLII (Canada), France, Germany, Italy, the USA and South Africa.

The following represent a sample of the available quality individual web resources which may help with your legal research:

FLAG Foreign Law Guide

A guide to finding printed sources of legislation and law reports for foreign jurisdictions in UK libraries

FLARE Treaty database

A searchable database of basic information on mainly multilateral treaties. Further information available

Globalex provides an introduction to legal information sources with hyperlinks for a wide range of jurisdictions and areas of international law.

Bodleian Law Library Research Guides    A wide selection of subject and jurisdiction guides with hyperlinks to further sources.