German Legal Research:
This 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:
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.
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.
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.
Those researching German law may find these websites helpful. When possible, the English language version is provided.
Getting Help from a Research Librarian
For help, visit the HLSL Ask a Librarian website: http://asklib.law.harvard.edu.
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
This 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.