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German Law Research

German Legal Research: Willkommen!

This guide discusses researching German law. It lists books, other print materials, subscription databases, and free internet resources.  

This guide was created and is maintained by Jennifer Allison, FCIL Librarian at the Harvard Law School Library.  Jennifer will be on leave from Harvard beginning March 1, 2017.  She will be back in April 2018. During Jennifer's absence, you may contact an HLSL librarian for research assistance by visiting


The primary focus of this guide is on English-language materials. However, German-language materials are also included. 

Where appropriate, languages are designated in the guide by flag icons:

English-language materials:  USA flag

German-language materials:  German flag

Subscription Databases

The law library subscribes to two German legal databases: Beck-Online and Makrolog Recht für Deutschland. This guide provides English-language navigation tips and information about both of these databases.  

(Photo Credit: "Two Churches: Cologne, Germany." Michael Rastetter, Creative Commons License,

Getting Started

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

Good practices of legal research apply regardless of jurisdiction:

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

2.  Next, review relevant secondary sources. They provide citations to primary law and help you understand the topic.  

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

This guide will help you find those resources in English and in German. 

Helpful Websites