The articles contained in legal periodicals can be a great source for finding background information on a legal topic that may be new or obscure. They can also be highly useful in finding information about an important case or topic. Footnotes or endnotes in the articles can be especially helpful in leading the researcher to even more sources.
There are two main types of legal periodicals:
Academic law reviews and journals: scholarly publications usually edited by law students in conjunction with faculty members. They contain both lengthy articles and shorter essays by professors and lawyers, as well as comments, notes, or developments in the law written by students. Law review articles often focus on new or emerging areas of law, and they can offer more critical commentary than a legal encyclopedia or A.L.R. entry.
Practice-oriented journals: cover of a variety of legal topics, usually with articles written by practicing attorneys or active bar members
Not every journal is available online; articles written before the 1980s often need to be found using print indexes and print journals due to database coverage. For more information on using print legal periodicals, see Law Review and Journal Articles - Print Indexes.
Different databases contain different journals, though there is a great deal of overlap.
Citations to articles written about a specific case can be found by Shepardizing or KeyCiting the case.
Citations to articles about statutes may be listed in the annotations to the statute and at the end of Shepard's or KeyCite citing references.
Secondary sources may provide law review citations.
Social Science Research Network (SSRN): an interdisciplinary database, its Legal Scholarship Network contains tens of thousands of law-related papers and abstracts. Titles and abstracts may be viewed without signing up, but free registration is required for downloading.
Google Scholar: search multiple legal journals at once; there is also a hyperlink that can often take you directly to the article if it is freely available
Subscription Resources (Current students should access these through the Law Library Databases page.)
HeinOnline: features a comprehensive Law Journal Library with all articles available in full text
Lexis: contains an assortment of full-text articles from various law reviews and journals
Westlaw: contains an assortment of full-text articles from various law reviews and journals