Law Reviews

Law Reviews in the United States

Scholarly publications sponsored by law schools. Law reviews serve as outlets for legal articles by teachers, practitioners, and judges. Editorial work and some writing are done by the best students from the sponsoring school. See citation (in U.S. law) (to Legal Authorities), How to Cite Law Reviews. (Revised by Ann De Vries)

Law School Reviews

For more definitions of it, read Law School Reviews in the Legal Dictionary here.

Locating Law Journals and Law Reviews

Law Reviews and Law Journals are scholarly publications sponsored by law schools.  The vast majority are managed by law students. The articles are usually written by professors, except the “Notes” and “Comments” at the back of the issues, which are usually written by the students.Links to law review Web pages are posted by the American Law Sources Online(alphabetical) and, Findlaw (by subject).You can get copies of most law review and law journal articles back to the early 90’s at relatively little cost from Lexis or Westlaw or much further back, and at no additional cost, if you have access to HeinOnline.  You can locate other sources, sometimes free, using the  Washington and Lee Journal Finder, the UNC E-Journal Finder or the Jenkins Journal Portal.  If you have access, you can search and print for free from the Index to Legal Periodicals Full Text, which is marketed mostly to large academic libraries.

Otherwise, you can see if the article is posted on the law review’s Web site or call the document delivery service of a large law library.

To do a full text search of free online law reviews, you can try the ABA’s Free Full-text Online Law Review/Law Journal Search Engine or the University Law Review Project.  Otherwise, use Lexis, Westlaw or Hein OnLine to find what you need.

To find a library with a back issue of a rare law review or journal, your best bet is to search OCLC’s WorldCat and/or contact the library of the school that sponsors the review.  You can also consult a regional union list, if you have one.

If you need to buy a copy of a law review, call the Review itself.  You can get the phone number from the Web page or the front of a back issue.

To see where or whether a law review article has been cited elsewhere, use Shepard’s Law Review Citations, in paper or through the Shepard’s service on Lexis.  See also “Shepardizing.”

For statistics on the most-cited law reviews, visit Law Journals: Submissions and Ranking.

Indexes:  There are two major law review & law journal article indexes – the Information Access Company’s (IAC’s) LegalTrac a/k/a Current Law Index a/k/a the Legal Resource Index (available on Lexis, Westlaw  and Dialog) and H.W. Wilson’s Index to Legal Periodicals.  The CLI and LRI are also available through some academic, bar association and membership library web sites.

You can find articles from 2000 to 2011 using the free Current Law Journal Content from Washington & Lee Law School.

Web Sites: Most law reviews have their own Web sites, with widely varying content.  Many post at least their recent Tables of Contents.  Some post full-text articles.

Locating Periodicals articles

Getting articles online:  A good way to find if a periodical is online is to use the free Jenkins Journal Portal, which covers most of the major legal database vendors (Lexis, Westlaw, HeinOnline, etc.) plus Internet sites, the W&L Law Journal Finder or UNC E-Journal Finder.  If you  subscribe, Fulltext Sources Onlineis even more comprehensive.  Alternatively, you can check the database directories for Lexis, Westlaw, Hein, etc.You can also check the Internet document delivery services, such as Ingenta or OCLC’s Electronic Collections Online or Google Scholar.

Getting issues or articles from other libraries: 

— Look in a regional Union List.  Regional Union Lists are often compiled by Chapters of the American Association of Law Libraries (; or

— Check online catalogs of libraries that might lend you an issue or copy articles.  You may already know the likely libraries.  If not, see entries for “Document Delivery Services” and/or “Libraries” for some suggestions; or

— Search WorldCat, a nation-wide union list.

To get copies of a particular article from another library, you’ll have to know when & where it appeared.  If you don’t already have this information, check out the discussion of Bibliographic Information, below.

Buying:  If the online sources and other libraries don’t do the trick, I’ll try to buy the issue.  You can generally get current issues from a news stand or the publisher.  To buy a back issue of a magazine, call a store that sells back issues.

You can also buy issues from online stores, such the United States Book Exchange (

Bibliographic Information: The “bibliographic information” for an article is the stuff you need to make a citation – the name of the journal where the article appeared, the volume/issue/page numbers, and the date of publication.

If you can find the full text of an article online, you’ll usually get the bibliographic information too.  But sometimes you don’t want the full text, or you might not want to pay the cost of buying it online, or you may not be able to find the article online.  In any of these cases, you might want to get bibliographic information from .

(A) The online document delivery services discussed above.  Ingenta  do not charge for searching or looking up citations.  You pay only if you buy the article.

(B) The Internet.  The Web sites for many periodicals post the table of contents of current and back issues, even if they don’t give the full text.

(C) A periodical index.  The most common periodical index is the Reader’s Guide to Periodicals, which is available in most public libraries.  Other useful indexes include the Magazine Index, which is available on Dialog (File 47) and Lexis, and the Alternative Press Index, which indexes alternative periodicals like the Village Voice, the Boston Phoenix, etc.

There are also subject-specific periodical indexes, such as ERIC for eduction (Dialog File 1).   There are also some source-specific indexes, such as The New York Times Index and/or The Wall Street Journal Index.  These indexes are available in many public and business libraries.

If you don’t know where a particular periodical is indexed, you may want to look up the title in Ulrich’s International Periodical DirectoryUlrich’s often tells you where a given serial is indexed (e.g., Art Abstracts).  The print version of Ulrich’s is available in many libraries.  It’s also searchable on Dialog (File 480).

(D) The publisher.  Just call up and ask.  If you don’t know the publisher or the publisher’s telephone number, you can probably find it in .

— The publisher’s web site.  You can find the web site with any good search engine.

— A periodical directory, such as Ulrich’s International Periodical Directory, which is available in print in most public libraries and on Dialog File 480, or The Oxbridge Standard Periodical Directory;

— Oxbridge’s free Mediafinder, which includes telephone numbers and Internet links in the “Research” section; , which tells you pretty much the same information you’ll find in Ulrich’s;

— The online catalog of any library that has the serial.

See Also

American Law Reports (ALR)
Law Schools

These are a subset of legal periodical literature which includes legal newspapers and bar association journals. The legal profession is unique in that the scholarly literature is published predominately in student-edited journals. Law reviews provide analytical articles discussing new developments in law, generally focusing on policy issues while pushing the law to the cutting edge. While not mandatory authority, articles by well-respected scholars in a field published in the best law reviews often serve as persuasive authority for courts.

Real Property–Law Reviews, Texts, and Bar Journals Database

This is a database related to interests in and transfers of real estate, in the following material: General Treatises, Forms, and Practice Guides. A description of this real estate database is provided below:

Documents from law reviews, texts, CLE course materials, bar journals, and legal practice– oriented periodicals that relate to interests in and transfers of real property. Coverage varies by publication.

Further information on United States legal research databases, including real property databases, are provided following the former link.

Law Reviews: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

Federal Primary Materials

The U.S. federal government system consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each of which creates information that can be the subject of legal research about Law Reviews. This part provides references, in relation to Law Reviews, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about Law Reviews by content types:

Laws and Regulations

US Constitution
Federal Statutory Codes and Legislation

Federal Case Law and Court Materials

U.S. Courts of Appeals
United States courts of appeals, inclouding bankruptcy courts and bankcruptcy appellate panels:

Federal Administrative Materials and Resources

Presidential Materials

Materials that emanate from the President’s lawmaking function include executive orders for officers in departments and agencies and proclamations for announcing ceremonial or commemorative policies. Presidential materials available include:

Executive Materials

Federal Legislative History Materials

Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about Law Reviews and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about Law Reviews or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

State Administrative Materials and Resources

State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to Law Reviews and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting Law Reviews. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about Law Reviews should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to Law Reviews when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

Tools and Forms

Law in Other Regions

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