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Real World Research


The study and practice of law touches on all aspects of life.  Students should be aware of resources available in various disciplines.  Students should also be conscious of cost when performing research.  Disciplined, cost-effective research requires familiarity with a resource.  The cost for using fee-based databases can be prohibitive.  Depending on your work situation, you may not have access to databases and library resources that you have become accustomed to using during your law school career.

This guide provides a listing of mainly free Internet sites on a variety of information sources that may prove to be useful to practitioners.  In many cases, the information found on these sites are primary sources from the originating entities.  Sites charging a fee are indicated by $$$.

Local Public Libraries & County Law Libraries

Public Libraries

County Law Libraries

Many Pennsylvania counties have law libraries which are open to the public during the hours that the Court House is open; circulation of materials, however, is generally limited to members of the County Bar.

State Bar

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 ( 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.

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.