Legal Research Around the World

Happy New Year, all.

I thought I would take advantage of the international nature of Slaw’s contributors and readers, to search out an answer to a question that occupies my mind from time to time. Across Canada, “legal research” is conducted by lawyers, at the courts and in private practice. By “legal research”, I mean to include the finding of relevant law on a given issue; the analysis of the state of the law; and the application of the law to the given problem/file/issues. In our firm, the reference librarians will find law if given the parameters such as the name of the legislation or treaty, style of cause of the case, or noting up of caselaw, but the rest is done by lawyers (and articling students). From discussions with colleagues in other provinces, that appears to represent most practices, although the extent of the librarians’ research varies as many also have law degrees.

What I am curious about, it whether this represents the practice of legal research in other jurisdictions? I have not heard of “research lawyers” in the U.S. or Australia/New Zealand.

So, I am soliciting comments from those of you outside of Canada. Please let us know how legal research is conducted in your jurisdiction, and what is meant by “legal research”, in your view.

Thanks in advance for your responses.


  1. Hi Brenda

    I work for a mid size law firm in Australia, I conduct legal research to some extent. basically all I’m permitted to do is
    – find second reading speeches
    – find old legislation or EM’s
    – track down cases that we don’t have electronic access to, (Document delivery from interstate or using other local law libraries e.g supreme court library); and
    – newspaper article searches.

    I hope this information has been useful