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Foreign Law: How to Find It: Introduction

Tips for finding primary sources from foreign countries.


This guide gives you some basic tips on searching for laws and related materials of foreign countries. This first page provides overall guidance. The second tab, Library Holdings, provides information on foreign materials available in the Library. The last page, Further Research, lists relevant electronic databases and other research guides. 

Research Guides and Other Sources

A good place to start when first researching the law of other countries is Guide to International Legal Research. This comprehensive guide gives you an overview of resources for both specific countries and specific areas of law. It is also available on Lexis (just type the title into the main search bar to find it). Another good print resources is International Legal Research in a Nutshell.

Other helpful source guides:

  • GlobaLex This web site, from the NYU School of Law, is a very thorough collection of online legal resources for foreign, international, and comparative legal research. Select Foreign Law; then browse for the country you are researching to see the resources available for it. 
  • Sean D. Murphy, United States practice in International Law, is a good, practical guide for U.S. attorneys who find themselves working on a case involving international law.
  • Claire Germain, Germain's Transnational Law Research: A Guide for Attorneys, provides significant background on foreign and international research and practice issues; lists materials by subject and by jurisdiction; includes electronic and print formats. 

A Quick Note on Translations

If you are researching or navigating sources in a language you do not understand:

  • A document originally published in a foreign source may have beeb reprinted in unofficial English source – a looseleaf service, Westlaw, etc. 
  • Dictionaries, from English to many other languages, are available in the Library. A few examples include FrenchRussianSpanishChinese, and Portuguese. There's even one with German, French, Dutch, and Spanish legal terms, all in one volume.
    • Some of these are traditional dictionaries, but others are legal dictionaries that may include annotations and guides to researching law in a particular state. 
  • EuroVoc - a multilingual thesaurus produced by the European Union.
  • Google translate can help you translate foreign languages, but do not rely on it to be absolutely accurate.


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