How to do research in Law

Library resources for researchers working law, public policy, justice, civil rights, and legal history


Topic-specific keywords will help improve your results in a general multidisciplinary database like Google, Google Scholar, HOLLIS, or Academic Search Premier. 

Add keywords like these to your search:

  • Law, legislation, “law and legislation,” cases, "legal aspects”
  • Litigating party - “Google, Inc,” Ledbetter, “Board of Education”


The best tool for your project may be a specialized search engine, also known as a database. These databases are subject-specific or format-specific search tools:

Nexis Uni (Harvard login) – Set up a search or browse for a publication on the main screen or select “Get a Doc Assistance” to find a known document, e.g. a case by party names. Legal materials include federal and state case law, statutes, and regulations, encyclopedias, and law review articles.

HeinOnline (Harvard login) – Useful for its extensive Law Journal Library, which contains full runs of over 2200 publications. HeinOnline also includes a large collection of primary source documents such as court and legislative documents, regulations, constitutions, treaties, and more. The primary source collection includes contemporary as well as historical materials drawn from state, federal, and international sources.

Dig Deeper

The Harvard Law School Library’s online guide to Secondary Sources will help you get your bearings in legal topics and find additional databases. Note: several law databases can only be accessed by HLS affiliates, due to licensing restrictions.

Databases for Law - explore the full list of Harvard Library databases in this subject category.


Law research librarians are available to meet with and answer questions from all Harvard affiliates. The best way to reach us is through our Ask a Law Librarian page. 

Featured Collection

Harvard’s Law School Library is the largest academic law library in the world, with a collection that exceeds 1.2 million volumes of legal material from across the globe and an expert staff of librarians, archivists, researchers, and technologists.


There is research support and access to online resources available specifically for HLS Affiliates. Connect with a law librarian for more information.


Service Alert:
  • Some Harvard Library locations will be closed or have special hours for Commencement, Thursday, May 26. Please check the Library Hours page for specifics. Ask a Librarian and chat hours will remain as usual.
  • Most Harvard Library locations will be closed Monday, May 30 and Tuesday, May 31, in observance of the Memorial Day holiday. Ask a Librarian and chat service will be closed on these dates.
  • If you're experiencing an ongoing technical issue when you attempt to access library materials with your HarvardKey during these times, please report it to Library Technology Services.



Monday - Thursday 9am-6pm

Chat is intended for brief inquiries from the Harvard community.


Talk to a librarian for advice on defining your topic, developing your research strategy, and locating and using sources. Make an appointment now.

These services are intended primarily for Harvard University faculty, staff and students. If you are not affiliated with Harvard, please use these services only to request information about the Library and its collections.