Case Law in PrintCase Law on the InternetCase Law in Beck-OnlineCase Law in JurisEnglish Translations of German Case Law
Bundesgesetzblatt (Federal Gazette)Legislation in Free Online Databases and in JurisLegislation in Beck-OnlineLegislation in Print (Including Commentaries)Administrative GuidelinesEnglish Translations of Statutes
Finding Aids for Secondary SourcesEnglish Treatises and JournalsGerman Treatises and JournalsStatutory CommentariesFestschriftenCitator Services
Dictionaries & Language Reference (Online)Dictionaries & Language Reference (Print)Historical ResearchLegal NewsLegal Research for German States (Länder)Legal Studies and the Legal ProfessionLibraries and InstitutesMembership in International Organizations
Administrative Law (Verwaltungsrecht)Business and Commercial Law (Handelsrecht)Civil Code (Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch)Civil Procedure (Zivilprozessordnung)Constitutional Law (Verfassungsrecht)Criminal Law and Procedure (Strafrecht and Strafprozessordnung)Data Protection Law (Datenschutzrecht)Energy Law (Energierecht)Family Law (Familienrecht)Intellectual Property Law (Geistiges Eigentumsrecht)Labor Law (Arbeitsrecht)Law of Obligations (Schuldverhältnisse)Notary Law (Notarrecht)Public International Law (Völkerrecht)Religion and Law (Religion und Recht)Social Law (Sozialrecht)Tax Law (Steuerrecht)International Law (Völkerrecht, internationales Recht)
Beck-OnlineJurisMakrolog Recht für DeutschlandJurion
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German Legal Research:

German flagThis guide provides information about how to use Harvard Law School Library's collection for researching German law.  

It includes references to books, other print materials, subscription databases, and free internet resources.  


Both English- and German language resources are discussed, although its primary focus is on English-language materials.  Where appropriate, languages are designated in the guide by flag icons:

USA flag

English-language materials 

German flag

German-language materials

If you are affiliated with the HLS community and need assistance with German law research, or if you have questions or feedback about this guide please contact Jennifer using the information to the right of this box.

Subscription Databases

The law library subscribes to several German law databases, including Beck-Online, Juris, and Makrolog Recht für Deutschland.  These are available to HLS affiliates, although note that the library is charged for each document viewed under our subscription plans for Juris and Makrolog.  Therefore, this guide focuses primarily on our print collection, free internet resources, and Beck-Online.  

In addition, German legal databases have few instructions in English.  See the tabs in this guide under Databases for English-language instructions on these resources.  You are strongly encouraged to review that information before using any of those databases if you are unfamiliar with them.

If you have any questions about accessing or using any of our subscription databases, please contact Jennifer.


Getting Started:
Auf die Plätze, Fertig, Los!

German legal research is easier if you read German; however, there are still plenty of English-language resources available.  

Generally, the same good-practice guidelines apply for both German and U.S. legal research.  

1.  First, learn about the German legal system, including the full and abbreviated names of the relevant legal bodies and institutions, as well as the process by which laws are created and published.  

2.  Next, review relevant secondary sources, including dictionaries, encyclopedias, digests, treatises, legal periodicals, and legal news publications. In addition to providing citations to primary law, these will help you understand the principles of the topic you are researching.  

3.  Finally, review applicable primary sources, including constitutional provisions, statutes, case law, and regulations.

This guide will aid you in finding those resources in English and in German. 


Helpful Websites

Those researching German law may find these websites helpful.  When possible, the English language version is provided.

  • Arbeitsgemeinschaft für juristisches Bibliotheks- und Dokumentationswesen (AjBD): Deutsche Quellen (German Sources)
    The AjBD is Germany's national professional organization for law librarians. The "Deutsche Quellen" page provides information about and links to resources for researching German law. NOTE: the AjBD site is in German only.
  • Auswahl Rechtswissenschaftlicher Datenbanken im Internet (Uni Mannheim)
    This is an excellent and extensive directory of online legal databases compiled by the University of Mannheim. It is organized both geographically (with links to sources from Germany, Europe, the U.S., and the rest of the world) and by subject (civil law, European law, international commercial and private law, and internet law). This resource is in German only.
  • BBC News: Germany Profile
    Provides overview information and links to recent news stories about Germany.
  • Beck'sche Linkliste
    This is a directory of selected law-related websites, compiled and maintained by the legal publisher C.H. Beck. There are six different link lists: Gerichte (courts); Behörden, Institutionen, Vereinigungen (institutions, mainly government); Informationen für den Rechtsanwalt und Notar (information for lawyers); Juristische Ausbildung (legal training); Datenbanken und Einzelne Rechtsgebiete (legal databases and information, general and topic-specific); and Blogs, Podcasts und anderes. In German only.
  • - Verwaltung Online: Information on Public Services in Germany
    Information: Germany at a glance, entering Germany, living in Germany, education, working in Germany, economy and trade, administration. Also includes links to the English-language website of the Federal Foreign Office, the English-language Discover Germany portal, and the German Business Portal.
  • Center for German Legal Information
    This organization, in partnership with Germany's Federal Foreign Office, provides free online access to selected German legal sources in English.
  • CIA World Factbook: Germany
    Includes information about the German people, society, government, economy, military, and infrastructure.
  • Columbia Gazetteer of the World: Germany  Icon
    Germany entry in this encyclopedia of geographic places; includes information about geography, population, economy, history, and government.
  • Europa World Year Book: Germany  Icon
    The Europa World Year Book provides detailed country surveys containing the latest analytical, statistical and directory data available for over 250 countries and territories. The link above is to the online yearbook entry for Germany. It includes a country profile and statistics, and directories for government/politics, society/media, and business/commerce.
  • Federal Agency for Civic Education (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung)
    Germany's Federal Agency for Civic Education is responsible for providing "citizenship education," which means educating German citizens about the social and political history of the German nation. This is a link to the English-language section of the site; note that most of the topical educational content is in German.
  • Foreign Law Guide: Germany  Icon
    Foreign Law Guide is one of the premiere English-language resources for researching law in foreign jurisdictions.
  • German Business and Commercial Laws: Guide to Translations in English and Select Auxiliary Sources (GlobaLex)
    Excellent online English-language guide providing an overview of English-language resources for researching German business law. Last updated in September 2012.
  • Government of the United Kingdom: UK and Germany
    Information about Germany from the UK Foreign Office, available in English and German.
  • Harvard Libraries German Research Web
    Interactive research guide for Germanic Studies at Harvard University; created by the librarians of the Harvard College Library.
  • Law Library of Congress: Guide to Law Online - Germany
    The Guide to Law Online, prepared by the Law Library of Congress Public Services Division, is an annotated guide to sources of information on government and law available online. It includes selected links to useful and reliable sites for legal information.
  • Legal Research in Germany Between Print and Electronic Media (GlobaLex)
    Excellent online English-language guide providing an overview of print and electronic sources for German legal research. Last updated in July 2012.
  • Max-Planck Society
    The Max-Planck Society is a German research organization. It is comprised of a number of research institutes throughout Germany and the rest of Europe, each of which is devoted to a specific area of academic interest. View a list of the society's law-related institutes by navigating to Institutes > Humanities and Social Sciences > Jurisprudence.
  • Online Directory: Juristische Fachinformation (Legal Information)
    This is a web directory of resources related to German law, including statutory law, case law, periodicals, online journals, commentary, legal information portals, and legal study tutorials. It is hosted by the law faculty of Humboldt University of Berlin and is in German only.
  • Oxford World Encyclopedia: Germany  Icon
    Provides brief factual information about the country and its history, along with links on the left side of the screen to additional relevant entries (such as "Prussia" and "Berlin").
  • Western European Studies Section (Association of College and Research Libraries): German Studies Web
    Web directory of scholarly resources in German studies: news, library catalogs, reference materials, and more.
  • WorldLII: Germany
    This is Germany's page in the World Legal Information Institute database. WorldLII provides free access to primary and secondary legal sources from around the world.

Subject Guide

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Jennifer Allison

Getting Help from a Research Librarian

For help, visit the HLSL Ask a Librarian website:  

This site includes links to all of our research guides, contact information for the research librarians (phone, text, email, chat), and a schedule of our training classes.  

What's New in German Law

Big News cartoonThis section provides links to recent stories about Germany's legal system and laws.  

The articles listed in this section are organized chronologically (newest first).  They are in German; however, an English-language summary of each article is provided.


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