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LAW Graduate Law (LLM) Resources

This guide is intended to provide relevant information to graduate and post-graduate law programs, including resources from the Law 703 Library Sessions.

Law 703

Graduate Seminar--Legal Research (Law 703) is the required course for all LLM and PhD students in the Faculty of Law.  This course has a series of tutorials for library research. 

You will find the PowerPoint slides and handouts from the library sessions on this page so you can access the information after you have completed the course.  These will be updated with information from the most current tutorials completed.

Introduction for Orientation

Please view this video before your orientation to the Bennett Jones Law Library. (4:05)

Finding Books, Periodicals & Other Commentary

It is always best to start with secondary sources for your legal research. The library search box (Primo) will help you find books and print journal titles.The databases and resources listed here are a place to begin your research. There are many others, depending on your topic. If you are having difficulty determining where to look in your research, you can try the library search box or Google Scholar.

This is list of indexes, general databases, and grey literature sources to get you started with your research. 

These are links to free and fee-based thesis indexes and databases:

A list of database links to indexes and databases.

Law review articles and textbooks are not tracked for use by citation in the same way as many other disciplines. Here is a list of common citation sources, along with the main legal databases that can be used to track citations. 

Here are some useful links to help you with legal citation using the Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation (McGill Guide):

Search Tips

Primo can help determine the correct interdisciplinary database to use for your research.

Many resources from library webpages and guides are available to help with your research. The best places to start looking for resources available to you:

Using databases – check the individual database’s help or tips for details.

  • Basic keyword searching is for “quick and dirty” searches whereas advanced search templates give the ability to use Boolean searching:
    • Use drop-down options to help structure your search query
    • Extra database functionality is sometimes done through “advanced search” options
    • Use AND, OR, NOT, and/or /n (within a specified number of words) to help narrow or broaden your search results
    • Use NOT very carefully
  • For general databases:
    • Use the database tools to help narrow or broaden your search once your query is run and you have results
    • You may want to add “law OR legal OR legislat* OR regulat*” as a search term to help focus your search query

Wildcard characters exist for single and multiple letters. These wildcards will vary across databases.

Type of truncation Interdisciplinary Databases Legal Databases
Multiple letters at end of word





Single letter in a word





Word within “n” words of a word varies Carbon /5 capture


It is a good idea to use databases to help focus your searches through subject headings, thesaurus, and other controlled vocabulary options. This way you can determine whether to use “climate change” or “climatic changes” in the specific resource.

From Topic to Search Terms

Handout consists of pages 9:8 - 9:11 and A:4-A:5 of The Comprehensive Guide to Legal Research, Writing & Analysis, 3rd Edition.

Government & International

It is always best to start with the library catalogue in your research. When looking for government publications, search for the department as an “author.” For further information, many online resources and databases for government information may be found in the following library resources:

There are many government bodies such as departments and tribunals that may assist with your research.

This list is not exhaustive for intergovernmental or non-governmental organizations that may assist you with your research. You are best to check for additional websites in your research by using Google or Google Scholar.

Interdisciplinary NREEL

  • Canada Energy Law Service (KF2120 .A6 C352)
  • Canadian Environmental Law (KF3775 .A6 .F73 1991)
  • Canadian Oil and Gas Service (KF1846.5 .C32 1991)
  • The Electricity Industry in Canada (KF2125 .E44)
  • Kuntz Law of Oil & Gas (KF1849 .K84)
  • Summers Oil & Gas (KF1849 .S9 1938)
  • United Kingdom Oil & Gas Law (KF1849 .M26)
  • Williams & Meyers Oil and Gas Law (KF1849 .W542) – Manual of Oil & Gas Terms in Volume 8

From the Class Exercise:

  • What were your search terms? Did you feel your search terms were effective?
  • What types of materials did you find (e.g., articles, books, conference proceedings)?
  • How much full-text did you find? Did you need to link to full-text?
  • Were you surprised by what you found?

Canadian Statutory Research

Traditionally, official versions to be used in court are the printed, bound copies. Federally, this changed in 2009 to be the PDF version from Justice Canada’s website. (Office consolidations or loose-leaf versions are not considered official by courts).

How a Bill becomes a Statute:

  • Introduced as a Bill (public/government or private members)
  • Debated in House of Commons, Senate or legislature
  • Committee reviews Bill and may issue report(s) on its effectiveness and purpose
  • Representatives vote on the Bill
  • Federally – goes to the other chamber for the same process
  • Received Royal Assent
  • “Comes into Force” (CIF)

Regulations are subordinate legislation to an Act.  These are created by the Minister or Governor-in-Council (or Lieutenant-Governor-in-Council for provinces). 

Important parts of the Act to keep in mind:

  • Definitions
  • Content (including relevant section numbers)
  • Powers of the Minister
  • CIF information
  • Amendments
    • Federal use Table of Public Statutes and Responsible Ministers
  • Pending Bills
    • Official for federal – use Canada Gazette, Part I
  • Pending regulation
    • Official for federal – use Canada Gazette, Part I
  • Point-in-time search options are available in some electronic resources


  • Persuasive only (not as persuasive as cases)
  • Found through secondary research
  • Annotated and consolidated acts can be found as textbooks (e.g., Canadian Environmental Assessment Act– on Thomson Reuters ProView)


  • What courts have said about the Act
  • Judicial definition in words & phrases

Legislative History

  • Helps determine the legislative intent behind the Act
  • Information found through documents produced at various stages of the legislative process
  • Debates/Hansard for speeches
  • Legislative Summary
  • Reports, transcripts, and/or hearings (if any)
  • Committee
  • Department
  • Outside government (e.g., Alberta Law Reform Institute)
  • Search library catalogue for name or author of report, may be available in print

Regulations (including Orders-in-Council and Statutory Instruments)

  • Details on how the Act will be applied and enforced
  • Easiest way to find is through the name of the Act – use the Consolidated Index to Statutory Instruments for federal

Canadian Case Law Research

Background Information

  • Only 20% of cases are reported
  • Reporter editors choose based on interest and points of law as opposed to notoriety
  • Secondary sources will often offer case commentaries for important cases

Secondary Sources

Canadian Abridgment* – KF173 .C423 & Westlaw Canada

Canadian Encyclopedic Digest (CED) – KE173 .C54 1978 & Westlaw Canada

Halsbury's Laws of Canada – KF385 .ZA2 H35 & Lexis 

The Canada Digest* – Lexis 

Words & Phrases* (part of Canadian Abridgment) – KE173 .C438 & Westlaw Canada


Westlaw Next Canada provides access to Canadian materials. Foreign material such as from the United States are accessible through the International tab. For extra functionality, use the law school's password version.

Reminders from Prior Classes

  • Canadian Encyclopedic Digest (CED) – a legal encyclopedia with comprehensive statements on legal topics for Canada (over 200 subjects)
  • Canadian Abridgment (Case Digests) – a place to look for digests of Canadian cases, organized by subject
  • Index to Canadian Legal Literature – the main index for Canadian legal periodicals
  • Words & Phrases – judicial definitions

Other Source tabs (Canadian)

  • Student access includes: Environmental Offences Sentencing Quantum Service, Criminal, Family, Insolvency, Securities, Intellectual Property, and Estates & Trusts. These can be used for more focused research and include some additional textbooks not included in the campus-wide subscription.

Use for non-Canadian materials such as foreign jurisdictions.

  • Click on “International” tab, then choose type of source or jurisdiction
  • Energy & Environmental is a topic
  • Need to search broadly, then narrow
    • Largely from a U.S. perspective
    • Databases contain documents from law reviews, texts, American Jurisprudence 2d, CLE course materials, bar journals and legal practice-oriented periodicals.
      • Energy & Environmental Law – Law Reviews, Texts & Bar Journals
      • Secondary Sources (formerly TP-ALL) – Journals & Law Reviews (JLR) more specific
    • Source examples
      • Duke Environmental Law & Policy Forum (DUKELPF)
      • Energy Law Journal (ENERGYLJ)
      • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrative Materials
      • Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Decisions (FEN-FERC)
      • Gower Federal Service (GFS)
      • Journal of Environmental Law and Practice (JELP-CAN) – Canadian
      • Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation (RMMLF-INST)


  • “big search box” also known as "federated searching"
    • Searches across most Canadian collections (see exceptions noted at the bottom of the screen)
    • Like Google & library search box
    • Limiting your search through facets
    • Templates available for some
    • Can search all or just desired type of material
    • Find and KeyCite by Name (Statutes and Cases)
  • Functionality
    • Browse Legal Topics* or Practice Areas* allows for topical searching
    • Save the databases you use the most to your Favourites*
    • Create Folders* for individual projects to save and organize your research
    • Add an Annotation* to the top of your case, statute or article to remind you about the key aspect(s) of the document
    • Add Notes throughout document
    • New coloured ‘Search within results’ terms
    • Multi-coloured Highlighting
    • The improved History* allows you to re-run old search queries
    • Limit results to “viewed” or “not viewed”
    • Create Folders for individual projects to save and organize your research Set your Preferences
    • Email, print or download your results

Database Items to Note

  • Need to select type of resource after jurisdiction
  • Foreign content is under the International tab
  • Alerts – covered in the Interdisciplinary NREEL class
  • Search History – kept for 1 year
  • Source information
  • Places for help/additional database information
  • Remember if you find something in an index on Westlaw, you need to check the library catalogue and other resources (e.g., Lexis) to see if the library has the item if it is not already in Westlaw.
  • For tutorials on using Westlaw, go to

Available Tutorials

Thomson Reuters

Lexis Advance Quicklaw

Lexis+ and Lexis Advance Quicklaw provides access to Canadian materials. Foreign material such as from the United States are accessible through Lexis+ and Lexis Advance Quicklaw at the present time.


  • Search or Browse for a Source* (Canadian and other)
  • Area of Law
    • Environmental Law – selected sources
      • Alberta Environmental Appeal Board Decisions from September 1, 1993
      • Environmental Law Reporter News & Analysis from January 1971 (US)
      • Duke Environmental Law and Policy Forum from 1995 (US)
    • Natural Resources, Energy & Utilities Law
      • Alberta Energy Regulator Decisions
      • Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board from 2008
      • Alberta Energy and Utilities Board from 2002 – 2007
      • Alberta Utilities Commission Decisions from 2008
      • Canada National Energy Board Decisions from January 1999
      • Energy Law Journal from 1993
      • EPA Administrative Materials Combined from 1972, depending on the source (US)
      • Journal of Energy and Natural Resources Law from 2008 (US)
  • General Search screen* – multiple options to search quickly
  • Halsbury’s Laws of Canada*
  • Index to Canadian Legal Literature – the main index for Canadian legal periodicals (covered in Commentary classes)
  • Canadian Words & Phrases – largely legislative (covered in Statutes class)
  • Search Templates – note most templates default to Canadian content to search
    • Court Cases – includes The Canada Digest (covered in Cases class)
    • Note up with QuickCITE (covered in Cases class)
    • Tribunal Cases (covered in Cases class)
    • Legislation (covered in Statutes class)
    • Commentary (covered in Commentary classes)
    • Journals
      • Best to start with general databases first when developing thesis or paper topics (not done when practicing due to pricing)
      • Can search for current Canadian journals
  • Non-Canadian content is still on Quicklaw. See reference staff for access.
  • International – default sources are US – browse the Source Directory
  • Journals
    • Best to start with general databases first when developing thesis or paper topics (not done when practicing due to pricing)
    • Can easily search for current US, UK, and international journals
    • Can combine separate databases for each country


  • “big search box” also known as "federated searching"
    • Searches across most Canadian collections (see exceptions noted at the bottom of the screen)
    • Like Google & library search box
    • Can search all or just desired type of material through pre-filtering
    • Limit search results through post-filtering
  • Functionality
    • Research Map
    • Annotate to create a note, save databases to Favourites, create Folders to save documents
    • Highlighting of Case Summary in Result List
    • Note-up Graphical View
    • Shows viewed before

Database Items to Note

  • Includes many LexisNexis sources
  • Legal Topics & Practice Area Pages
  • Moving through terms & documents; Narrow search
  • Printing/e-mailing - remember to disable your pop-up blocker to print
  • History & Alerts
  • Point-in-time available for statutes, by section and sub-section
  • Source information
  • Favourites & Folders
  • Lexis for Microsoft Office
  • Copy (Advanced) allows for copying with a citation linked back to the document
  • Help – where to find tutorials and Quick Reference Guides
  • Remember if you find something in an index, you need to check the library search box and other resources to see if the library has the item if it’s not already linked

Available Tutorials


Foreign Materials

Foreign law is the domestic, national or internal law of a country or jurisdiction.It does not include international law and treaties.

“Foreign” primarily means from countries outside Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom for this session (N.B. many research guides and resources define “foreign” as outside the United States)

Availability of Foreign Materials:

  • The amount available will depend on the country.
  • Not everything is on the Internet.
  • Not everything is written in English. Translations may not be official.
  • Many countries put their statutes on the Internet free of charge. Some governments may provide websites with bills, statutes and regulations.
  • Case law is generally jurisdiction specific.
  • Many countries have court websites on the Internet. The amount available will depend on the country.
  • Not every case gets published so not every case is searchable.

Government websites are good sources to find information about a country. Country-specific information can be found through many sources, including:

Several databases and indexes covered in prior sessions are useful for your foreign materials research.

You can find many resources through the library catalogue and other resources covered in the commentary sessions earlier in the term. Electronic books can also help with country-specific information. Use Inter-library loans if the library does not have what you are looking for.

Helpful library guides include the following:

Government websites and secondary literature can help you find foreign legislation. The following resources may also help.

Individual court and tribunal websites will help you to find foreign cases and court information.