Although the Harvard Law School Library building is currently closed, the library staff is working from home and is continuing to support the research and work of the Harvard Law School community, including our SJD students.
Not all of the services that are outlined in this guide are currently available, especially those regarding print materials. We appreciate your patience as the libraries of Harvard work to resume these services as quickly as possible.
The two sites listed below have the most up-to-date information about the status of our services.
Our research librarians are staffing a virtual reference desk during business hours (10am-6pm eastern, Monday-Friday). For more information, visit http://asklib.law.harvard.edu/.
If you have a research question related to Historical and Special Collections, send an email to email@example.com.
|Access, Circulation, Library Informationfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Bloomberg Law Databaseemail@example.com|
|Database Access and Passwordsfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Document Delivery (FRIDA)||email@example.com|
|Historical and Special Collectionsfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Instructional Technology||Visit https://hls.service-now.com/sp|
|InterLibrary Loan (ILL)||email@example.com|
|Lexis Advance Databasefirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Purchase Requests||Your Research Librarian Liaison|
|Renewing Library Materialsemail@example.com|
|Requesting Library Materialsfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Research Help||Your Research Librarian Liaison or email@example.com|
HOLLIS is where you can track your library loans, renew items, check due dates and more. After logging in, click your name in the top right corner, then "My Account."
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.
Use HOLLIS to find books and other materials available at the Harvard University libraries, including the Law School Library.
The Library is rearranging the Langdell and ILS stacks. Check the Guide to Finding Items at HLSL to find each country’s current location and general call number locations.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) or your liaison. You can also fill out the Purchase Request form online.
Perma.cc is a free, easy-to-use archiving tool developed here at the Harvard Law School Library. It captures an archive of the page and gives you back a 'Perma Link' to be used in your citation.
FRIDA is part of the Law Library's Faculty Research & Scholarly Support Department (FRSS). It is the primary service for faculty members and SJD’s to obtain delivery of known documents from the Law Library or other sources.
FRIDA is available Monday through Friday, 9 AM – 5 PM. FRIDA is closed on holidays.
Note: 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.
Submit FRIDA requests via the Request Form or by any of the following methods:
Make sure that your request includes:
FRIDA accepts requests for books and other materials from the Law School Library and other Harvard Libraries:
FRIDA makes every effort to fill requests within 2 business 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.
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:
Scan & Deliver is just one of the Harvard Library's 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.
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.
Many other electronic resources and databases are available from other Harvard libraries on the Databases 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.
In addition to the selected e-book collections listed below, Harvard Library subscribes to over 500 other ebook collections
On the Harvard Databases page search by title, subject or keyword, then refine your results by content type "E-books and texts"
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 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 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.
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.
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, 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:
Alternatively, you can try inserting .ezp-prod1.hul.harvard.edu just after the .com or .org and before the first slash in the URL. For example,
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:
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.
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.
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, email@example.com. ExpressO also provides FAQ about the submission process.
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.
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.
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.
The following list of shared study plans are password protected. They are also accessible on the Canvas site.
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 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.
No matter your relationship to numbers and charts, many researchers will want to find and use data to illustrate and support points made.
A good general place to start looking for data is the law library's Statistical and Data-Related Resources research guide.
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:
Conduct a literature review to help you identify data made or cited by others.
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
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 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.
Under the Constitution, there are three branches of the federal government, and each is endowed with unique powers:
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.
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.
Appeals from the trial-level courts are heard in the appropriate appellate court.
At the top of each system is the highest court.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
There are two type of statutory publications:
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.
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.
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.
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 21st edition (published in 2020).
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.
Once you have a topic, it is recommended that you conduct your legal research project in this order.
Read and reread everything:
Discuss the why:
Get to know the funding organization:
Other thoughts on grant writing:
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:
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:
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.
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.
If you are interested in finding a job at a nonprofit, NGO or governmental agency, try these websites.
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.
Contact Historical & Special Collections at firstname.lastname@example.org
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