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Law Basic Primers

This guide is intended to introduce legal research to non legal and public researches and assist them in finding primary sources of law (case law and legislation), secondary sources and commentary.

Getting Started

Some considerations when starting legal research:

  • Searching for secondary sources is the first step in legal research.
  • Secondary sources assist in first explaining and understanding the law and second, in locating the law.
  • When getting started with a legal topic, reference sources like legal encyclopedias provide broad overviews of legal topics written by experts that will save time and direct you to primary sources. 
  • Depending on how you search legal research tools they can provide a broad overview or very specific details. 
  • There may be both legislation and court cases that will be relevant to what you need
  • Jurisdiction - the geographic area that a particular law applies to - is a key consideration in legal research, for both legislation and case law.


Tutorials for: Secondary Sources (9 slides, 5'40"), Creating Legislation (9 slides, 11'42"), Legislative Research & Noting up (10 slides, 9'50"), Case Law Part 1 (7 slides, 5'43"), Case Law Part 2 (8 slides, 7'3")

Subject Librarian

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Doris Wagner
1-01 Rutherford Library South
University of Alberta

Subject Librarian

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Carolyn Carpan
Rutherford South