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SJD Guide to Law Library Services

Hours and Access

Library Hours

Regular Library Hours*

Sunday: 9:00 a.m. to midnight

Monday-Thursday: 8:00 a.m. to midnight

Friday: 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Saturday: 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

*Please consult the library's website here for holiday hours.

24/7 Library Access

During the academic year, and Bar Review, Harvard Law School students have 24 hours a day, seven days a week access to the second floor of the Library. The Computer Classroom, Fishman Room and Lemann Lounge are all available as study space. Library services are not available except during regular service hours.

For any other access related questions, please contact Access Services.

Research Assistance

Reference Desk Hours*
 
Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m–6 p.m.
Saturday & Sunday, 1pm-5pm
 
Contact:
For general research assistance, call, text, or email us, http://asklib.law.harvard.edu/ or contact your liaison.
For FRIDA requests, e-mail frida@law.harvard.edu
For purchase requests, fill out the form online.
 
*For holiday and summer hours, please check library website.

Liaisons and Contacts

NOTE

Please note, if your name is not paired with a librarian below, you can always request a personal librarian by emailing Aslihan Bulut with your dissertation topic to be matched with a librarian.

Liaison Assignments by Librarian

Jennifer Allison
Librarian for Foreign, Comparative and International Law
  • Aboutalebi, Zahra
  • Abu Elyounes, Doaa
  • Beswick, Samuel Peter
  • Botero Arcila, Beatriz
  • Chachko, Elena
  • Furth-Matzkin, Meirav
  • Giovanopoulou, Afroditi
  • Levi, Luca Martino
  • Lo, Yichen
  • Luo, Yu
  • Mortada, Farida
  • Starosvit, Svitlana
  • Torres Patiño, Claudia Veronica
  • Van Malleghem, Pieter-Augustijn
  • Zhou, Dan
AJ Blechner
Research Librarian and Library Instruction Coordinator
  • Racabi, Gali
  • Shisha, Shani
Aslihan Bulut
Program Coordinator and Librarian for Foreign, Comparative and International Law
  • Cabrera Silva, Angel
  • Deibler, Sarah May
  • Elkahwagy, Rana
  • Hamdy, Mohammad
  • Jabbarizadeh, Roozbeh
  • Jung, Il-Young
  • Khoury, Fadi
  • Larrea Maccise, Regina
  • Lavoie, Malcolm Michel
  • Montoya Robledo, Valentina
  • Noronha, Joanna Vieira
  • Saksena, Priyasha
  • Silva-Portero, Carolina
  • Sudai, Maayan
  • Tecimer, Cem
  • Tofighi Darian, Marzieh
Claire DeMarco
Research Librarian
cdemarco@law.harvard.edu, x6-2129
  • Tamir, Oren 
Meg Kribble
Research Librarian & Outreach Coordinator
  • Ramirez-Bustamente, Natalia
Lisa Lilliott
Research Librarian
  • Morgan, Robin
  • Okafor, Ikechukwu
Tim McAllister
Research Librarian & Business and Corporate Law Specialist
tmcallister@law.harvard.edu, 617-496-2123 (x6-2123)
  • Gillis, Talia
  • Iwasaki, Masaki
  • Kim, Hye Sung
  • Kim, Ji Hyun
  • Ragnarsson, Kari
  • Shin, Yun Soo
  • Xia, Ying
  • Zernik, Aluma  
Michelle Pearse
Senior Research Librarian
mpearse@law.harvard.edu, x6-2102
  • Douek, Evelyn
  • Papadaki, Eleftheria
George Taoultsides
Research Librarian and Student Services Coordinator
  • Desai, Deval
Stephen Wiles
Librarian for Foreign, Comparative and International Law
  • Acheampong, Kwabena
  • Akande, Opayemi (Rabiat)
  • Ayano, Mekonnen
  • Bietti, Elettra
  • Eisen, Jessica
  • Heikal, Hedayat
  • Juma, Dan
  • McDougall, Pascal
  • Palle, Bharath
  • Rogge, Malcolm
  • Teweldebirhan, Kibrom
  • Tse, Man Ha
  • Wang, Yueduan
  • Xia, Ying
  • Zhang, Guanchi
  • Zhang, Yiran

Nongji Zhang
Bibliographer for East Asian Law
zhang4@law.harvard.edu, x5-4016

  • Hu, Xiaoqian

Library Administration

  • Jonathan Zittrain Edit/Delete Quick Stats
    Vice Dean, Library And Information Resources, Faculty Co-Director, Berkman Center For Internet And Society, Professor Of Computer Science, SEAS
    Areeda Hall 511
    617-495-4643
  • Jocelyn Kennedy Edit/Delete Quick Stats
    Executive Director
    Areeda Hall 518
    617-496-2108

Whom to Ask

Service Contact (Click name to e-mail.)
Access Access Services
Bloomberg Rebecca Schwartz
Database, passwords Reference Desk
Document Delivery Heather Pierce
ExpressO June Casey
FRIDA FRIDA
Information Circulation Desk
Instructional Technology TLC
Interlibrary Loan ILL Department
Lexis Reeves Gillis
Publishing June Casey
Purchase requests Liaison or Bridget Reischer
Renewing library materials Circulation Desk
Request book, article FRIDA
Research help Liaison or Reference Desk
Scan and Deliver Anne-Marie Taylor
Westlaw Mark Frongillo
Website corrections contact your liaison

Materials

Borrowing

Borrowing Materials 

Circulation and access services are provided at the circulation desk at the entrance of Langdell Hall. If you have questions about borrowing, renewing, or requesting library materials, staff can assist you at that circulation desk, or over the phone at 617-495-3455.

Borrowing privileges are limited to current members of the Harvard community with a Harvard ID or those with a Fletcher, Officer Dependent or Spouse Special Borrowers card.  S.J.D. graduate students, and Ph.D. candidates have semester loans with due dates of September 10, January 10, and June 10. 

All books are subject to recall after they have been borrowed for 14 days.

Periodicals, journals, primary source materials, and looseleafs do not circulate. Approximately 20% of the Library collection actually circulates.

To check out a book or other item from Harvard libraries go to the library in which the item is located. Consult individual library listings for borrowing and access policies.

Renewing

Renewing Materials 

Books that have not been requested by another library patron may be renewed directly through HOLLIS by using the "Your Account," function, found at the upper left of the top menu. Log in using your University (or Special Borrowers) ID and PIN number. "Your Account" gives you access to your library circulation records, and allows you to renew and request items on-line.

To set up viewing your account Harvard University faculty, students and staff may request a PIN at pin.harvard.edu.

Overdue books may be renewed, but the user will be billed for any applicable overdue fines.

Books recalled by other patrons cannot be renewed.

Renewal Limit

There is a five-time renewal limit for any materials loaned from any Harvard library. Once an item has been renewed more than five times, it cannot be renewed online. That item will have to be returned or renewed in person at the owning library. The rationale for this policy is that patrons who keep books longer than five loan periods often find it difficult to produce them after that period of time has elapsed. Physically producing borrowed books every five loan periods should help locate these items when they are actually needed, enabling the libraries to account for the collections at regular intervals and to fulfill their preservation and conservation stewardship role.

Fines & Recalls

Overdue Fines and Book Recalls 

Overdue fines are 50¢ per day up to a maximum of $15 per overdue item. Overdue fines for Reserve materials are $1.00 per hour up to a maximum of $28 per overdue item. Fines go to Term Bill or Accounts Receivable offices with no additional fee. Patrons owing the Law School Library $200 or more will be blocked from checking out additional books until fines have been paid.

All books are subject to recall after they have been borrowed for 14 days. Whenever a recall request is placed, a notice will be mailed indicating the adjusted due date. Failure to return the book within 7 days will result in fines of $2 per day up to a maximum of $28. 

A book is presumed lost if not renewed or returned within 30 days, and a $85 replacement fee will be charged for each item; out-of-print or more valuable items may be billed at a higher rate, based on the judgment of the appropriate bibliographer. If the book is returned after a replacement fee has been charged, the patron will still be responsible for the $15 overdue fine. In lieu of the $85 replacement fee, patrons may supply an acceptable duplicate copy to be used for replacement; however, a $30 fee will be charged for the processing of the replacement copy.

Requesting Books Out to Another User 

All books are subject to recall after they have been borrowed for 14 days. Patrons may recall/request materials that are checked out through HOLLIS. You must be logged in to "Your Account." using your University (or Special Borrowers) ID and PIN number. If you have questions or problems with requesting materials, staff can assist you at the Circulation Desk or over the phone at 617-495-3455. The due date on a recalled book is adjusted to 7 days after the recall has been placed, unless the item has not yet been out for the guaranteed 14 day loan. 

Requesting Books at Harvard Depository 

Patrons may request materials that are at Harvard Depository directly through HOLLIS. You must be logged in to "Your Account." using your University (or Special Borrowers) ID and PIN number. If you have questions or problems with requesting materials, staff can assist you at the Circulation Desk or over the phone at 617-495-3455.

Finding Books at Harvard

Hollis+/Hollis Classic

Use HOLLIS+ to find books and other materials available at the Harvard University libraries, including the Law School Library. HOLLIS Classic, the older interface to the catalogs of the Harvard University libraries, remains available for your use.

Finding Items at HLSL 

The Library is rearranging the Langdell and ILS stacks. Check this guide to find each country’s current location and general call number locations.

Finding Books Beyond Harvard

Find Books Beyond Harvard

Borrow Direct Search Borrow Direct enables current Harvard faculty, staff, and students to borrow materials directly from Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, and Yale. More information.

HathiTrust Digital Library The HathiTrust Digital Library is a shared repository of works digitized by its research library members. The catalog provides information about more than 5 million books and journals and is growing daily. More than 2.5 million volumes are in the public domain so may be viewed in full text.

Harvard Google Book Search Harvard Google Book Search allows you to search the full text of all books available in Google Book Search with the addition of a Find at Harvard University link displayed next to each item in your search result. If an online version a book has been licensed by Harvard, you will be taken directly to the full text.

Library of Congress CatalogThe Library of Congress serves as the research arm of the United States Congress. It is also the largest library in the world, with nearly 128 million items on approximately 530 miles of bookshelves.

WorldCat Use WorldCat to locate the books and other materials from over 12,000 libraries worldwide.

For more information about Finding Books, see Find a Book page.

Acquisitions

Recommendations for Purchase and Gifts to the Library

 
The library encourages you to recommend new and important older titles to add to the collection. Please send as much information as you have about recommendations or donations to J. Bridget Reischer (reischer@law.harvard.edu) or your liaison.  You can also fill out the Purchase Request form online.
 

Preserving and Citing Materials on the Internet

Because links often change or become broken (known as “link-rot”), Bluebook's recommended method for citing on the web includes the use of an archiving service.

Perma.cc is a free, easy-to-use tool that ensures your links don’t rot: it captures an archive of the page and gives you back a 'Perma Link' to be used in your citation. 

Anyone can create a free Perma.cc account and create up to 10 Perma Links a month, and those at academic institutions such as HLS can be upgraded to an institutional account to create unlimited links. Contact Claire DeMarco (cdemarco@law.harvard.edu) to be setup with an institutional account, and check out the Perma.cc libguide here.

Document Delivery (FRIDA) Services

WHOM TO CONTACT

If you have any additional questions about FRIDA and Scan & Deliver please contact:

Scan & Deliver

Need a book chapter from Widener? An article from MCZ? Use Scan & Deliver to save a trip by requesting their material be scanned and emailed to you. 

Scan & Deliver, a free electronic document delivery service of the Harvard University libraries, allows Harvard faculty, students and staff to request scanned copies of chapters and articles from materials held at the Harvard Depository and participating Harvard libraries. When viewing an item in Hollis or Hollis Classic, initiate a request by clicking the Scan & Deliver link located in the Holdings or Availability portion of its record. A one-time registration is required for first-time users. 

Log in to your Scan & Deliver account to track filled and outstanding requests. 

Please note the following: 

  • Requests may be made for personal use only and are limited to a single chapter or article up to 100-pages
  • Requests are fulfilled within 4-days and include email updates
  • Reserve, course reserve, microfilm and already checked-out items are not eligible
  • Request made for multiple chapters from a single book will be rejected
  • No more than 2 requests per day per library
  • No Rush Service

Scan & Deliver is just one of the Harvard Library's Get It suite of services, providing Harvard researchers with a full range of options for locating and requesting materials. Please contact the Library Circulation Desk, 617-495-3455, for more information.

FRIDA

What is FRIDA?

  • FRIDA is part of the Law Library's Document Delivery department. It is the primary service for faculty members and SJD’s to obtain delivery of known documents from the Law Library or other sources.

How should I request materials?

What information should I include in my request?

  • Your name and @harvard email address
  • As much and as accurate bibliographic information as possible (if the citation is incorrect, often we cannot retrieve the item)
  • Any format preferences. We will make every effort to accommodate your preferences, if possible

When is FRIDA available?

  • Monday through Friday, 9 AM – 5 PM; closed on holidays.
  • Materials requested after 3:00 p.m., items requested from storage and requests received during a weekend or holiday will be processed on the next business day.

 What kinds of materials can I get through FRIDA?

  • Law School
    • FRIDA borrows materials from the Law Library
  • SneakerNet
    • FRIDA staff members photocopy articles at most Harvard libraries in Cambridge and borrow monographs from Widener, Divinity, Cabot, Gutman, Baker, Tozzer, Yenching and the Kennedy School libraries.
  • Electronic Document Delivery
    •  FRIDA can now offer desktop electronic delivery via ILLIAD
    • Materials will include PDF articles from E-Resources, scanned articles, book chapters etc. etc.
  • Interlibrary Loan Materials
    • If materials are not currently available at any Harvard libraries, FRIDA will refer your request to Interlibrary Loan.

How long will it take to fill my request?

  • We make every effort to fill requests within 2 days, but turnaround time may vary if there is a high volume of requests, if an item is not available on the shelf or if we need to get something through Interlibrary Loan.
  • We will notify you if there are problems with a request.

Electronic Resources

E-BOOKS

In addition to the few e-book collections listed below, Harvard Library subscribes to over 500 other ebook collections, here's the alpahabetical list.

Use the filters available on the general E-Research page to filter by title, subject or keyword.

Major Legal and Law-Related Databases

For a list of databases available via Harvard Law School Library, please visit our Find a Database page or contact the reference desk if the database you are looking for is not already listed.

Finding Databases at Harvard

Many other electronic resources are available from other Harvard libraries on the Harvard E-Resources page.  You can filter the databases by keyword, title or subject including regional and cultural studies databases.  If you attempt to access some of these remotely, you may be prompted for your Harvard credentials.

Current Awareness Services

New articles and working papers

Numerous options are available for keeping up with newly published literature, including those listed below. Please contact your librarian liaison or the Reference Desk for information about customizing journal alerts to meet your current awareness needs.

Current Index to Legal Periodicals (CILP)

Current Index to Legal Periodicals (CILP), updated weekly, offers tables of contents for newly published law periodicals, tracking over 500 major law reviews and journals. CILP is available 4-6 weeks earlier than other commercial legal periodical indexes. The latest issue of CILP is available every Friday.

CILP is available in html, pdf, and Word format. The html version allows a direct link to the cited articles in full text articles on Westlaw and Lexis. (You will be prompted for your Lexis or Westlaw password.)

SmartCILP

SmartCILP provides a weekly email listing new citations from journals and on topics of interest to you. The citations are drawn from the CILP database. Please contact the Reference Desk, 617-495-4516, for information on subscribing to SmartCILP.

EconPapers

EconPapers provides access to RePEc (Research Papers in Economics), the world's largest collection of on-line economics working papers, journal articles, new titles and software.

Google Scholar

Any search on Google Scholar allows you to create an email alert for any new articles matching that search.  Perform your search, then look to the bottom of the filters on the left side of the page.  

You can also follow certain authors if they have a Google Scholar Profile.  Click on the name of an author underlined in a Google Scholar citation.  You will be directed to that author's personal page.  Click on the blue "Follow" button to track that author.

 

HeinOnline

Through HeinOnline's MyHein, you may set alerts for tables of contents from journals or search queries.  See MyHein's User Guide for more information.

LegalTrac Search Alert

LegalTrac Search Alerts allow you to create email alerts and RSS feeds of searches run in LegalTrac. Email alerts can be sent daily, weekly or monthly. After running a search in LegalTrac, create an alert using the Create Search Alert link on the right.

IngentaConnect

IngentaConnect, a database of the tables of contents of more than 28,000 multi-disciplinary journals, allows you to create a profile in which you designate journals of interest to you and receive regular email alerts of the table of contents of new issues.  

1) register as an individual

2) select My Profile

3) Create new publication alerts and follow the instructions.

     

Journal Alerts through Publisher/Vendor Platforms

Many journal publishers and vendor platforms provide alert services. Try the following strategy to discover whether an alert service is available for a journal of interest to you:

  1. Look up the journal in Find E-Journals.
  2. A list of databases that have full text of the journal will be displayed.
  3. Select the database that has the most current issues and locate the journal.
  4. Look for a link to set up an alert.

Sometimes, the links in the alerts will not work properly. There are two possible workarounds. You can try using the Harvard LibX toolbar. Once installed in your browser, right-click (PC) or CTRL-click (Mac) the link and select "Re-load via Harvard Access." Alternatively, you can try inserting .ezp-prod1.hul.harvard.edu just after the .com and before the first slash in the URL. For example,

http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1468-0289.2007.00422.x

becomes

http://www.blackwell-synergy.com.ezp-prod1.hul.harvard.edu/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1468-0289.2007.00388.x

Please contact the Reference Desk if both of these workarounds fail.

SSRN Social Science Research Network

SSRN is dedicated to rapid dissemination of social science research and provides an email alert service in several specialized areas, including law, management, accounting, economics and politics.  Through Harvard's institutional subscription, you may create e-mail alerts to a range of subject matters and series in various networks on SSRN.   When you register for an SSRN, make sure you affiliate yourself with Harvard's institutional subscription.  Ask your librarian liaison or contact the reference desk if you need assistance.

Law Commons (BePress)

Law Commons is a network of law school repositories on the BePress Digital Commons platform.  You may follow specific authors, institutions and subjects that interest you.  Look for the blue "FOLLOW" buttons: 

New Books at Harvard

The library has a new acqusitions page for books that have been newly cataloged at the law library.  You may also generate alerts of searches run in Hollis when you are logged in.  Look for the "Save Search" button at the bottom of the filters down the left side of the results page.

Westlaw Alerts

Within Westlaw, you can set up a search to be run regularly and have the results delivered to you.  You can also create an alert from a search you have already done.  Look for the bell icon.

Set up a KeyCite Alert to be informed when new materials are added to the KeyCite report for the authority you are citating.  Westlaw offers documentation about its alerting services. 

Lexis Alerts

You can set up a search to be run periodically on Lexis and have results delivered to you. Additionally, with Shepard's Alert changes to Shepard's reports for your authority can be sent to you automatically.  See instructions for setting up alerts on Lexis Advance.

BNA Alerts

BNA publications give you access to cases, laws and regulations as well as news and analysis on a large number of topics. Highlights and headlines can be delivered to your email inbox daily.

You can do e-mail keyword alerts from many of the BNA publications through Lexis, Westlaw and Bloomberg.

Publishing

Research Guide on Publishing

Please look at our research guide on Publishing in Law Reviews and Journals for a more comprehensive overview of this topic.

ExpressO

ExpressO is a service allows authors to electronically submit manuscripts to their choice of 750+ law reviews. For an overview read the "Getting Started with ExpressO" page.  If you would like to set up an account, please contact June Casey, jucasey@law.harvard.edu.  ExpressO also provides FAQ about the submission process.

Working Papers

SSRN (Social Science Research Network) is an electronic network disseminating research in the social sciences. Research is organized into networks including the Legal Scholarship Network (LSN)

CIAO Columbia International Affairs Online
CIAO publishes a wide range of scholarship from 1991 to the present, including working papers from university research institutes, occasional papers series from non-governmental organizations, foundation-funded research projects and proceedings from conferences.

EconPapers
EconPapers provides access to research papers in economics including working papers, articles, books and chapters. EconPapers uses the RePEc database.

Olin Center Faculty Discussion Paper Series

Olin Center Fellows Discussion Paper Series
The John M. Olin Center for Law, Economics, and Business at Harvard Law School promotes faculty research in and furthers student understanding of law and economics.

Law Reviews and Journal Listings

Comparing Law Journal Impact Factor/Prestige, Harvard Law School Library.

Law Journals: Submissions and Rankings, Washington and Lee University School of Law Library, http://lawlib.wlu.edu/LJ/.

Law Journals, Washburn School of Law, http://www.washlaw.edu/lawjournal/ (list of journals with short description)

Google Scholar's Metrics listing Top 100 publications in different disciplines and languages.

Find & Use Data

Making & Using Data

Empirical Research Overview

If your goal is to use statistics in your research, review information at HLS support for Empirical Research Services.

Empirical Research Classes

Harvard offers a variety of empirical courses.

For self-guided education, consider some of the resources here:

Empirical Research Software

Stata is available on some computers in the second floor computer lab, and on one computer in L408 (library fourth floor near Reference Desk).

Stata may also be licensed for a fee through the Stata site.

Empirical Legal Studies

Empirical Legal Studies uses data analysis to study the legal system. Empirical Legal Studies is comprised of the body of scholarly research in this field, the methods employed to conduct this research, and the application of this research.

Additional Help

For help in finding data, contact:

Finding Data

No matter your relationship to numbers and charts, many researchers will want to find and use data to illustrate and support points made. 

Browse by category of data:

For the novice numbers person, here are easy-to-use resources for finding charts:

For the intermediate to advanced numbers person, there are a variety of data sources that provide replication datasets:

More Data

Literature Review

Conduct a literature review to help you identify data made or cited by others.

Browsing Print

For ideas on what data may be useful, browse the HLS Library Reference collection of statistical materials in the range of H61 to HA4675.

More Data Resources

Researching U.S. Law

A Brief Introduction to U.S. Legal Research

This section of the guide provides a brief overview of the process for researching an issue of U.S. law.  It is intended to introduce you to important concepts and terms without going into too much detail.

The U.S. Legal System

The United States has a common law legal system. Applicable sources of law include both legislation (statutes) and judicial opinions (cases).

The United States Constitution provides the framework for the U.S. legal system. It also guarantees that certain powers, rights, and liberties, for both the states and the people, are protected.

Three Branches of Government 

Under the Constitution, there are three branches of the federal government, and each is endowed with unique powers:

  • The Legislative Branch is comprised of two houses of Congress, the Senate and the House of Representatives. It is responsible for enacting legislation.
  • The Executive Branch is headed by the President, who signs legislation enacted by Congress.  This action creates binding federal statutes. The Executive Branch also includes federal administrative agencies, which are responsible for promulgating regulations pursuant to the powers granted to them in federal statutes.
  • The Judicial Branch hears cases to determine the constitutional validity of federal laws and to resolve legal disputes involving federal law between parties.

Federalism

In addition to the federal government, each individual U.S. state also has its own government that creates its own law. As is the case with the federal government, states create law through legislation enacted by the state legislature and judicial opinions issued by judges in state courts.

If a state law directly conflicts with a federal law, the state law is preempted by the federal law.

If you are doing comparative research in which the U.S. is one of the countries, it is important to understand that, in the U.S. common law legal system, certain areas of law are generally the exclusive domain of the federal government.  These include, but are not limited to, bankruptcy, federal taxation, immigration, and intellectual property.

Likewise, some areas are, in general, a matter of state law.  Examples of these include property law, corporate law, and family law. In the areas of law that are generally governed by the states, there are some common law principles that apply generally in every state. So, for example, if you would like to research divorce law in the U.S., you will need to look at both the common law principles and the laws of the individual states.

Primary Authority: Cases

The United States has both federal courts and state courts. Each court system is organized in a three-tiered structure.  

The court of first instance for almost all cases is the trial court.  

  • Federal trial courts are the United States District Courts. Each District Court serves a region, such as the District of Massachusetts, the Central District of California, or the Southern District of New York. 
  • The trial court has various other names in the states, such as the Superior Court in California, the Superior or District Court in Massachusetts, and, confusingly, the Supreme Court in New York. 

Appeals from the trial-level courts are heard in the appropriate appellate court.

  • The federal appellate court system is organized into twelve circuits. Massachusetts is in the First Circuit, New York is in the Second Circuit, and California is in the Ninth Circuit. Each circuit has its own United States Court of Appeals.  
  • Each state also has its own system of appeals courts. These courts hear cases directly from the state trial courts.

At the top of each system is the highest court.  

  • In the federal system, this is the United States Supreme Court.  
  • Each state has its own supreme court, which generally has the final word on the application of the laws in that state. However, the U.S. Supreme Court can still decide cases on the validity of state laws under the U.S. Constitution.

In the U.S. legal system, law created by the judiciary has the same legal stature as statutory law. The idea of legal precedent is also very important.  Under the principle of stare decisis, opinions from higher courts are binding on lower courts, and must be followed.

Researching Case Law

Judicial opinions are published in chronological order in case law reporters. These are available in print and electronically.

There are two types of case law reporters:

  • Official reporters, published by the government, generally include only the text of the judicial opinion.
  • Unofficial reporters are published by legal publishing companies. In addition to the text of the opinion, they additional content to help the researcher understand what the case is about and find related opinions.

Citators

A citator is a tool that you can use to learn whether a judicial opinion is still good law. This is important because judicial opinions can be overruled by higher courts. The U.S. Supreme Court can also overrule its own previous decisions.

The two major citator services are part of larger subscription legal databases:

  • Westlaw's citator is called KeyCite.
  • In LexisNexis, the citator service is called Shepard's (the term "Shepardizing" a case comes from this).

When you are looking at a case in either of these databases, there will be a symbol at the top of the screen that indicates its citator status. In both databases, a red symbol indicates that the case is no longer good on at least one point of law. This does not mean the whole case is no longer valid. Instead, the researcher will have to read subsequent opinions to determine the exact point(s) of law on which the earlier case has been overruled.

Primary Authority: Statutes

Legislative activity basically works the same way in federal and state governments. An identical version of a proposed version of a statute, called a bill, is passed in both legislative houses. Then, the bill is signed by the executive. At that point, the bill becomes law.

A simple graphic representation of the process for a bill becoming a law is available here.

Researching Statutes

There are two type of statutory publications:

  • Statutes are published chronologically, in the order in which they were enacted. For federal statues, the name of this publication is the United States Statutes at Large.
  • Statutes are also "codified." This means that all of the statutes that are currently in force are organized by topic. The United States Code contains all of the federal codified statutes. It is divided into 51 titles, each covering a distinct area of law. Each title has multiple sections.

Annotated codes, which are published by major legal publishing companies, are great for research. They include the statutory text and helpful resources, such as citations to relevant journal articles, legal encyclopedias, and judicial opinions.  

Secondary Authority

It is best to start your legal research with secondary sources, because they can help you easily find and understand the law.  

Types of secondary sources are listed below, in order of least depth to most depth.

  • A legal dictionary defines a legal word or phrase in a few sentences.  
  • Legal encyclopedias define a specific legal concept in a few paragraphs.
  • An article in a legal periodical (called a law journal or a law review) provides analysis of a legal topic, generally in around 25-75 pages. Articles are written by law students, law professors, practicing attorneys, and judges.
  • A legal treatise provides book-lengthy analysis of a legal subject.

Each type of secondary source, in addition to providing explanations and analysis, cites relevant judicial opinions and statutes.

The Harvard Law Library has a separate research guide that explains in much more detail how to use secondary sources for legal research. Check it out at http://guides.library.harvard.edu/secondary.

Legal Citation

It is generally required that citations to legal sources in academic documents be in the format required by the Bluebook. The current Bluebook is the 20th edition (published in 2015).

You can borrow a copy of the Bluebook to use for up to two hours (in-library use only) from the law library's circulation desk. If you will be using it frequently, you may want to purchase your own copy. You can purchase a physical copy, access to the electronic version, or both. Note that the law school does not provide access to the online Bluebook for students.

From time to time, the law library provides Bluebook training classes for foreign law students. Slides and handouts from two recent classes (one on citing U.S. sources, one on citing foreign and international sources) are available at http://guides.library.harvard.edu/LLM-Bluebook

For more information about legal citation, see the law library's Legal Citation Research Guide at http://guides.library.harvard.edu/legal-citation

U.S. Legal Research: Steps

Once you have a topic, it is recommended that you conduct your legal research project in this order.

1.  Look up any unfamiliar legal words or phrases in a legal dictionary, such as Black's Law Dictionary.  Note citations to any relevant statutes and judicial opinions.

2.  Learn some basic information about your topic from a legal encyclopedia, such as American Jurisprudence or Corpus Juris Secundum, again noting citations to relevant statutes and judicial opinions.

3.  Once you are ready for more in-depth anaylsis of your topic, try looking for relevant law review articles and treatises, making sure to continue to keep track of citations to relevant statutes and judicial opinions.

4.  Use the annotated code to research the statutes that were cited in the secondary sources.

5.  Use the annotations from the annotated code, in addition to citations you collected earlier, to find relevant judicial opinions.

6.  Make sure the judicial opinions you find are still good law by using citators.

Grants Info

Getting Grants

Read and reread everything:

  • Simple details such as careful editing can make or break an application.

Discuss the why: 

  • It’s important to understand the value your project will have for your own community and also for the greater community.  It’s likewise important to describe the impact of the project in the context of the grant.  Stay within the scope of the request for grant applications.  Think about what is happening locally and show broader knowledge.

Get to know the funding organization:

  • Look at former successful grant recipients.
  • Look at funder goals and don’t lose sight of these goals.  Reviewers are looking at factors like significance; people represented; and whether the project is cost-effective.  To this end, the budget must be realistic. Use a conservative estimate to make sure you arrive with enough money.  Having a low estimate is not your best strategy. 
  • Reach out to the program officer to ensure the fit is a good one.  When you contact the officer:  (a) send an abstract of your project; (b) communicate interest in funding; and (c) get feedback and tips.  Remember that the officer is very busy. 
  • Show that you will be a cheerleader for the project; show enthusiasm and share that with others.  Promote and disseminate ideas that flow from the grant, including promoting the granting organization.  Be open with communication always to signal your transparency.
  • Ask questions, especially if something is unclear or if you are unsure of an application detail.

Other thoughts on grant writing:

  • The current trend in grants is collaboration or partnerships.  SJD students seeking funding will want to consider working with others across Harvard, at other institutions (academic and otherwise), including in other geographic regions.
  • Large grants require a principal investigator.  This is often a faculty member.
  • There are great differences in culture among disciplines.  For example, grants in the humanities can work very differently than grants for the Medical School or Law School.

Finding Grants

There are an overwhelming amount of resources for finding grants. 

One of the best places to start is the Harvard

This GSAS site allows for easy searching of grants for graduate students, using a variety of parameters, such as geography and citizenship status.

Another recommended place to start is the Harvard FAS site for grant support:

The FAS site has resources and guides for searching six grants databases.

Three of these include:

On this part of the FAS site, you can also browse funding agency by type, for example, government agency or private funder.

There are many specific databases for locating funding opportunities.  Here are two in the area of Human Rights:

Researching Employers

Academic Jobs

These resources will help you to find academic job postings, research potential employers and keep up-to-date on scholarship in your field. You may also want to look at the career portals for universities of interest to you, as jobs are often also posted on those sites.

Corporate Jobs

Whether you are interested in working as in-house counsel or in working in a different type of corporate job, these databases will help you to research potential employers.

Government, Nonprofit & NGO Jobs

If you are interested in finding a job at a nonprofit, NGO or governmental agency, try these websites.

Law Firm Jobs

Those interested in working at a law firm will want to start their research with these resources. You may also want to consult the resources provided by the HLS Office of Career Services.

Getting Help

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