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Finding Law Review Articles

So you need to research a particular topic in depth and you know that means you need to find relevant law review articles. Since every law school has at least one law review that means there are hundreds of law reviews that might contain relevant articles. You may find citations to law reviews in other secondary sources like legal encyclopedias. But, you should also look for relevant articles by subject. You really don’t have time to pull every law review issue off the shelf in the library and look at it to see if there are any articles on your subject. So what do you do? The answer is – use an index to legal periodicals.

The two main indexes to legal periodicals are “Index to Legal Periodicals” (ILP) and Legal Resource Index (LRI or LegalTrac). Both of these are available on Westlaw and Lexis. We also have the subscription versions for both. To access our subscription versions of ILP or LRI go to the PCL home page, scroll to the bottom of the page and look under “Online Finding Aids”. Both ILP and LegalTrac have extensive, yet unique coverage. For the most thorough research results, one should search both.

Index to Legal Periodicals – ILP
ILP indexes over 1,400 books and treatises a year, as well as yearbooks and symposia. The subscription version of ILP, called Wilson Web, includes two databases. The “Legal Periodicals and Books” database indexes articles published between 1982 – present and the “Legal Periodicals Retro” database indexes articles published between 1908 – 1981. You can choose “Legal Periodicals & Books”, “Legal Periodicals Retro” or a combined version from the PCL home page. If you click on the combined version you need to choose the database you want to search before you run your search.

I recommend you use the “Advanced Search” feature. Enter a word or phrase in the “Find” boxes and select specific fields from the drop down boxes to focus your search so you get the most relevant results. Use more than one entry box if you want to build a Boolean search such as “and” between terms to retrieve all the terms, “or to retrieve any of the terms and “not” to exclude a particular term.

I also suggest you use the “All – Smart Search” field and choose to have the results sorted by relevance. The “Smart Search” feature allows you the greatest flexibility and you don’t even have to truncate words.

Once you find relevant articles you can click on the subject headings listed for that article to run another query for articles using that same index heading.

Legal Resource Index – LRI
Legal Resource Index (LRI) available from the PCL home page as LegalTrac indexes articles between 1980 and 2011. It indexes more than 1,400 titles including major law reviews, legal newspapers, bar association journals and international legal journals plus over 1000 business and general interest titles.

If you click on the Tools menu at the top of the screen, choose Help and then chose “ways you can search” you can get more detailed information about how to search using LegalTrac. Basically there are four main options. Keyword, Subject, Publication title and entire document (full text).

Other Services
Neither ILP or LRI are as current as the weekly Current Index to Legal Periodicals (CILP), which is available on Westlaw. You can also check law review articles in progress at SSRN or bePress.

Getting the articles
We have most law reviews in print back to 2000 in the PCL but the easiest way to retrieve a PDF file of a law review article is to use HeinOnline. Watch our blog to learn more about HeinOnline in the future.

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