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Law Library Research: Introductory Training for LLM Students

Welcome to the Law Library!

Welcome to the Law Library!

This site provides a brief introductory course on research at the Harvard Law School Library for incoming LLM students.

We are so glad you are here!  We have set up this course to help orient you to the library's services and materials before you begin your LLM year.  We know how busy you will be when you arrive in Cambridge!  Therefore, we encourage you to complete this short course before you arrive to start your year as an HLS LLM student.

Note: To sign up for a library tour and an introduction to research class, both of which are being offered during LLM orientation, go to

Introduction to Law Library Research

About This Course

This brief online-only course consists of a series of videos that provide a basic introduction to how research works in the Harvard Law School Library.  You can watch the entire video series in less than an hour.  

  1. The Law Library Website: Library Services and Subscription Database Links (6:13)
  2. The HOLLIS Library Catalog (4:48)
  3. Using HOLLIS to find LLM Papers from Prior HLS Students (5:39)
  4. Finding an LLM Paper Topic (6:55)
  5. Bluebook Legal Citation System (6:09)
  6. Preemption Checking (5:55)
  7. Perma: Making Permanent Links for your LLM Paper (4:38)
  8. Getting Help from a Librarian (7:42)

Each video has captions. If you want to read the words as they are spoken, click the CC icon in the video window.

IMPORTANT: Please watch all the videos on this site BEFORE you request a personal research consult meeting with a librarian. 

The Law Library Website

The Law Library Website: Library Services and Subscription Database Links

The law library's website ( should be the first place you go to find information about the library and how to find and access research materials, including subscription legal databases.  The video below provides a helpful navigational overview of the site.

Lexis, Westlaw, and Bloomberg

The video mentions three subscription databases that you need to register for separately: Westlaw, Lexis, and Bloomberg.  You will receive an email from librarian Catherine Biondo about how to register for these databases. 

For more information about these databases, including links to training materials for them, visit

The Harvard Library Catalog: HOLLIS

The HOLLIS Library Catalog

HOLLIS ( is the library catalog for all of Harvard's libraries, including the law library.  To be an effective researcher at Harvard, you must learn how to use HOLLIS.

Finding LLM Papers from Prior Years

Finding LLM Papers from Prior Years

This video show you how to use HOLLIS ( to find prior years' LLM papers in the library's collection.

The ability to find LLM papers submitted by prior HLS students is a very important skill for LLM students to know.  This information can give you ideas about the types of topics that were written about successfully, in terms of both subject matter and scope.  It can also give you a good indication of which professors have supervised which subject areas.

(1) At Harvard Law School, an LLM paper is not, and has never been, a "thesis." Note that you may see some conflicting language regarding that as you explore the library's collections, but the bottom line is that the written requirement for HLS LLM students is a "paper."  If you have any questions or concerns about this, please contact the Graduate Program. 
(2) The law school does not have an electronic database of LLM papers.  So if you find one that you want to read, you will have to use the library's print copy.  This video explains how to locate these print copies in our collection.


Finding an LLM Paper Topic

Finding an LLM Paper Topic

This video introduces you to the library's tips for finding an LLM paper topic, which you can read about at Topics covered include blogs, current awareness services, searching in academic journals, and finding a faculty advisor.

Bluebook Legal Citation

Bluebook Legal Citation

This video introduces you to the Bluebook system of legal citation, which is the primary citation system used in legal scholarship in the United States.  For more information about the Bluebook, visit our Bluebook guide at

Preemption Checking

Preemption Checking

Preemption checking means gaining a well-informed idea of what has already been published about your LLM paper topic.  You will need to do this to ensure that your contribution to the scholarly conversation on this topic is original and does not duplicate what another scholar has already said.  This video explains more about how preemption checking works.

Perma: Permanent Web Links

Perma: Making Permanent Links for Your LLM Paper

Perma is a service provided by the HLS Library's Library Information Lab that allows you to make permanent links for pages on publicly-accessible websites that you cite in your LLM paper.  This video introduces Perma and explains how to use it.

Meeting with a Librarian

Getting Help from a Librarian

The final video in the series explains where in the law library to go if you need help.  It also provides a brief tour of the sections in the library that have foreign and international law books.

An especially important component of this video is the introduction of the law library's research training calendar, which is available at  This is where you will go to sign up for tours and group research exercise classes that will be offered by the law library during LLM orientation.

Library Group Research Exercise and Answer Key

Library Group Research Exercise

During the week of August 30 - September 3, the library offered group research exercise training classes.  Viewing the eight videos on this page was a prerequisite for participating in this training, which was held over Zoom.

Participants in each class were divided into small groups in breakout rooms to complete one of five research exercises.  The exercises involved the use of HOLLIS, Google Scholar, HeinOnline, Jstor, ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, and other sources.

To view the five group exercises, as well as answer keys for each of them, click the link below to access them in a Google Doc. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions About the Library

Here are the answers to some of the more frequently-asked questions that we get in the library that may require some clarification beyond what you watched in the videos.

Question #1: Can I use HOLLIS to look for journal articles?

Answer: Yes!  Remember, if you do a "Library Catalog" search in HOLLIS, the search results will not include articles.  Instead, do an "Everything" search.  This will return articles from all kinds of publications, including scholarly journals and newspapers. 

Note that the easiest way to limit a search results list in HOLLIS to only scholarly journal articles is to click "Peer-Reviewed Articles" under the Show Only menu on the right side of the screen.

Question #2: What do I do if I need a book that Harvard doesn't have, or an article from a journal to which Harvard does not subscribe?

Answer: It's true, the Harvard Library does not have every single book and journal ever published (although we do have a lot!). 

If you need a book or journal article and you can't seen to access it through HOLLIS (or if you are asked to pay money for it), you're welcome to email a research librarian at  We're happy to take a quick look as well. 

Usually if a HOLLIS record says "How to Get It," as shown below, that is a good indication that we don't have the thing you're looking at.

In this case, you will need to do an InterLibrary Loan (ILL) request to get it from another library.  Scroll to the bottom of the HOLLIS record and click the InterLibrary Loan link.

Fill out the online form that is displayed, providing as much information about the book or article as you can.

If you need help, you can ask at the circulation desk.

Getting Help

Contact Us!

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