Cheat Sheet for Legal Databases
source // giphy
New to legal research? Have no fear! Your cheat sheet to legal research is here with the most popular and easily accessible legal databases.
Also known as Lexis Advanced or Casebase, this is your one stop shop for all references, particularly cases and journal articles. When searching for a case, look for previous cases that were followed by the case, subsequent cases that have referred to the case, and whether judges have followed or adopted a cautionary or negative approach towards the original decision.
Journal articles provide critical views on the decision and may highlight inconsistencies or policy issues in the case. Each case listed on Lexisnexis contains an extensive list of cases and publications referring to the original judgment, which can invaluable when criticising common law.
Like Lexisnexis, Westlaw covers a range of legal topics and references. Not only does Westlaw provide case citations, but also contains ‘FirstPoint’, which provides a brief overview of the judgment. When you are faced with a long or difficult case, or you are scrambling to finish an essay that you have been procrastinating for months, it may be worthwhile reading a brief description of the judgment to understand the rationale of the case rather than ferociously searching through a 100 page judgment.
Legal commentary is a great way to critically evaluate judgments and legislation. CHH provides legal commentary across a range of topics and will help in analysing legal documents and contentious areas of law.
This database will be your new best friend when it comes to journal articles. Whether you are searching an area of law or case, AGIS is ideal when it comes to providing a broad scope of Australian and international articles.
While reading through a bill’s explanatory memorandum, second reading speech or entire legislative materials may be your ideal Saturday night in, LawLex provides legislation briefs and summaries for bills, legislation and regulations across all jurisdictions to save you time. These include when it was introduced into parliament and what each piece intends to amend, which is perfect to ensure that your essay considers upcoming legislation and law reform amendments.
Honourable mentions include Analysis & Policy Observation (APO) for policy concerns, HeinOnline for legal journals and historical materials, and the infamous Austlii for a range of legal references.
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