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LAW - Starting Points - Beginning Your Canadian Legal Research

This guide is intended to assist students and members of the public locate materials for their legal research projects.

Research Process

It is highly recommended that you begin your legal research by looking at materials that describe or explain the law. These materials will explain legal principles, and identify legal terms and keywords you could use in your further research. You are likely to find citations to related cases and statutes in the footnotes as well. These materials include encyclopedias, books, and articles.

Legal Encyclopedias

Encyclopedia provide a brief discussion of a wide range of legal topics, with many footnotes referencing cases and some statutes. There are two Canadian legal encyclopedias: the Canadian Encyclopedic Digest and Halsbury’s Laws of Canada.


Books provide a deeper discussion of the legal topics than encyclopedias. Most legal books discussion a broad area of law, such as criminal law or employment law. Scholarly books often focus on a narrower topic and provide a deeper analysis of the legal issues.

Use the library search box to find print or electronic books in our collection. Note the call number and the location (e.g., Law-1st floor) of each print book. You will need to sign-on to access electronic books.

Certain legal texts are published in binders for easy updating. These are called looseleaf sets. Looseleaf sets published by Carswell and Canada Law Book are available electronically on:

Selected looseleaf sets published by LexisNexis or Butterworths are available electronically on:


Journal articles provide in-depth information on narrow legal topics and, often, more current information than books provide. There are several ways of search for legal articles.  The library search box and Google Scholar can both be used to find some articles.  We subscribe to several databases that contain the full-text of law review articles from Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and other countries

See our research guide for links to open access and database sources for legal articles. 

There are also general full text sources that may provide legal articles.

Some sources may be restricted to University of Calgary users or to Faculty of Law users.

Main legal article databases