Research Guides

Finding Articles in Legal Journals and Law Reviews

In-depth research should always involve the use of legal journal articles. A large proportion of scholarly legal literature is published in law school law reviews. Other types of law journals are bar association journals and journals written for legal practitioners.

The library has almost all scholarly law journals in paper, along with selected practitioners’ journals as well as leading journals from other disciplines, such as political science and economics. Most are shelved in the compact shelving on the 1st floor, in alphabetical order by the title of the journal. For more information see the section on Finding Journals.

The library also has subscriptions to many journals in electronic form; finding these is discussed in detail in the Journal Databases section.

Journal Indexes | Full-text Databases | Finding Journals | Journal Databases

Searching Legal Journal Indexes

The recommended method for finding law journal articles is to use an index. Indexes allow searching by author, title, subject, and keyword. Many also include abstracts of articles, and online indexes usually link to the full-text of selected articles. Coverage in legal journal indexes is more comprehensive, both in terms of journals covered and dates of coverage, than that of the online full-text journal databases (see section below on Searching for Articles in Full-Text Databases for more information).

The two main legal journal indexes are the Index to Legal Periodicals & Books (which includes books as well) and LegalTrac, both of which are available through Research Port. These indexes include references to many journals not included in Westlaw or Lexis databases and in some cases provide access to the full text electronically. Each of these two online indexes has a parallel print version: the Current Law Index (K33 .C87), and the Index to Legal Periodicals (K9 .N32) are shelved near the print journals on level 1. The print Index to Legal Periodicals is the main source for articles published prior to 1980.

Both of these indexes are also available on both Lexis and Westlaw. The Legal Resource Index, a slightly different version of LegalTrac, is LAWREV;LGLIND on Lexis and LRI on Westlaw. Coverage for this database extends from 1977 to present. The Index to Legal Periodicals, covering from 1978 to present, is available through Lexis at LAWREV;ILP and on Westlaw as ILP.

If you are researching a topic on foreign or international law, you may want to also try the Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals. This index, available electronically on Research Port, on Westlaw as IFLP and in paper (K33 .I5), indexes mainly non-English language legal journals, but uses English subject headings. (The main foreign-published English-language journals are covered in LegalTrac and the Index to Legal Periodicals & Books.) The electronic version covers articles indexed since 1984.

The Current Index to Legal Periodicals (last 8 weeks only are on Westlaw as CILP) is produced weekly by the Marion Gould Gallagher Library at the University of Washington School of Law, and contains articles from journal issues received in the library that week, making it more up-to-date than the other indexes.

Searching for Articles in Full-Text Databases

If you do not need to do a comprehensive search, but are just looking for a few relevant articles, you can look for legal journal articles in the two main legal online databases, Westlaw and Lexis (access is limited to use by law faculty and students).

Westlaw’s JLR database contains articles from over 500 journals – the beginning date of coverage varies, and not all articles from all journals are included. Lexis’s LAWREV;ALLREV database’s coverage is similar – it has fewer journals, but contains all articles from the journals it includes. Searching is the same as that used in all the main Westlaw and Lexis databases.

Finding Journals and Law Reviews

Once you have located a journal citation from an index, if there is no link to the full text, you will need to find the journal, either in paper or electronic format. To find the journal in paper, search the library’s catalog by the title of the journal.

For journals available electronically, in addition to using the Lexis and Westlaw full-text journal databases mentioned above, you might also check the Library’s list of electronic journals – linked from the library’s homepage. Many of those journals will be included in the journal databases described below.

Law Journal Databases

  • HeinOnline
    Full-text, image-based collection of more than 700 legal periodical titles. Coverage for each journal starts at its inception and continues to the most current volume allowed under contract between Hein and the journal. HeinOnline is the best place to find older articles from scholarly law journals.
    Complete back issues of scholarly journals covering a variety of subjects. JSTOR includes some law journals; it is best for older journals not included in HeinOnline.

Both HeinOnline and JSTOR provide PDF versions of journals; the Lexis and Westlaw databases mentioned in the section above provide articles with “star pagination” to the original journal pages.

The library subscribes to a number of databases that include many non-legal journals in full-text. To access these, use Research Port, which is linked to via either the Electronic Journals or Databases links on the library's home page.

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