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Legal Methods

The basic techniques of legal analysis, writing and research.

Starting Your Research

As in all projects, unless you are already knowledgeable about the topic area, it is best to start with introductory resources and then to consult more focused works; moving from secondary to primary resources.

Articles, books and government documents can provide you with an overview of your topic and help you think of search terms that you might not have thought of otherwise. They will also cite primary authorities such as statutes and case law. You can then use the primary sources cited in the secondary sources as a jumping off point to find other primary sources.

Search the Catalog of all Widener University Libraries

Finding Books in the Library

Materials in the Widener University Libraries are classed according to the Library of Congress classification schedule.  You may perform a subject, author, or title search in the online library catalog (https://libcat.widener.edu/) to find materials in the Widener libraries.

You can also perform a keyword search.  A keyword search is a broader search and you will likely receive more hits than if you performed a subject specific search.

Need a book that you can't find in our library?  Check Worldcat to see if any other libraries in your area may have the book in its collection.

Obtaining Books and Articles through InterLibrary Loan

If none of the Widener libraries owns the book or article you need, you may request it through InterLibrary Loan.  ILLiad is the InterLibrary Loan service used by Widener.  This service is available only to currently enrolled Widener students, faculty and staff.  Alumni and visitors do not have InterLibrary Loan borrowing privileges.  Please note that you must first register for ILLiad before you can request materials through InterLibrary Loan.  To register, click on the InterLibrary Loan link listed under the "Library Services" section on the Library's homepage at:  Widener Law Commonwealth Library

Next select the campus on which you are located, and click on "First Time Users."  Once you have registered, fill in as much of the request form as possible.  The more information you provide, the better.  If you are a registered user of ILLiad, simply enter your username and password to continue. 

Most photocopies will be delivered electronically.  You will be notified via your Widener email account with a link to your article, which will be in pdf format.

All InterLibrary Loans, except copied articles, must be returned to the Information Desk by the due date.

Finding Journal Articles available from Widener Law Commonwealth and Widener University

To locate journal articles, perform a search in one of the databases listed below.  The following databases are listed on the law library’s webpage under Library Resources, A-Z Databases.

Use the databases to search for articles on your topic.  Some databases provide full-text display of articles while others only provide citations to, or abstracts of, articles.  Some of the databases linked to in this Guide are subscription databases.  Access is available to these databases on the campus and also off campus.

Accessing Databases From Off Campus

Some of the databases linked to in this guide are subscription databases. Access is available to these databases on the Widener Law Commonwealth campus and off.

Lexis & Westlaw - all Widener Law Commonwealth students have an individual passwords to Lexis & Westlaw. If you have trouble with your password please contact Lexis or Westlaw.

Other databases -

For some databases you will encounter the screen below.  Here you can either use your Widener login ID and password OR your name and the 14 digit barcode from the back of your Widener ID Card to access databases from Off Campus.  

Note: Be sure to enter your name exactly as it appears on your ID (ie: include hyphens and/or middle initials).

Sometimes, with our OpenAthens system, you will be required to sign-in with your Widener email and password to authenticate your connection to Widener.

 

HeinOnline

HeinOnline One Box Search Widget

Google Scholar

Google Scholar Search