Legal Research

  • This Subject Area Index lists all CALI lessons covering Legal Research.
  • The Legal Research and Writing Outline allows you to search for terms of art that correspond to topics you are studying to find suggestions for related CALI Lessons.
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Researching Foreign Customary Law

The purpose of this lesson is to provide an introduction to customary law systems and to offer suggestions for researching the laws of countries where customary law is still being practiced. Because customary law is not written down and is therefore very difficult to research, the lesson will discuss the importance of secondary source, non-legal sources, government, IGO, and NGO reports, and case law or codifications reflecting principles of customary law as might be found in a mixed legal system.

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Researching Historical Sources of the Civil Law

This lesson will introduce you to the civil law tradition and show you how to research civil law historical sources. The lesson covers the five major types of world legal systems, explains the current and historical sources of the civil law, and discusses the importance of historical sources in civil law research and interpretation. Specific historical sources are identified, as well as ideas for using secondary sources to make sure that your research is on the right track.

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Supranational Organizations: The European Union

This lesson provides an overview of the history and structure of the European Union, followed by an introduction to researching European Union documents. The European Union is a truly unique structure which represents over half a century of cooperation between select nations. As the sole supranational legal order in the world, the European Union offers a truly unique model of study to legal scholars and practitioners.

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Customary International Law

The definition and location of customary international law is a difficult research task. This lesson begins by defining customary international law and placing customary international law into context through historical examples. Two research strategies for locating custom will be introduced. The first strategy is to locate pre-defined custom using a source that discusses state practice that has risen to the level of custom. The second and more complex strategy involves searching directly for evidence of customary international law.

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United Nations Research

This lesson will show you the basic tools for finding United Nations materials. It first gives an overview of how the United Nations is organized. It includes descriptions of each of the principal organs of the U.N. and an overview of the United Nations document numbering system. It then shows several online tools for United Nations research: the U.N.'s web site; the U.N. Documentation Centre; Official Document System; AccessUN; and UNBISNet. It ends with an introduction to a few web sites for very current information about the United Nations.

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Tribunals and Truth Commissions

This lesson is a general introduction to resources for researching Tribunals and Truth Commissions.  The lesson will focus on online and print sources relating to tribunals and truth commissions with a specific focus on the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

The lesson is divided into four parts:

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