California Legal Research

Use this as a guide to researching California law using any of these three tools: Legal encyclopedias/treatises, Annotated codes, or Case Digests.


Each of the above approaches can lead you to relevant California case law. The approach you choose will depend on the amount of information that you have at the beginning of your research. For example, do you just have a citation for a statute or a West Topic and Key Number? Or are you just starting with a legal topic without any citations? This guide will tell you which approach to choose based on the information that you have at the start of your research project.


While you're reviewing this guide, you will probably find it helpful to have ready access to the books and databases that we discuss.

Finding Journal Articles

In addition to searching the full-text databases for law review articles on WestLaw and Lexis, you may also want to do a search within a bibliographic database.  This will not include the full-text, but are much more comprehensive than the full-text databases.  You may search for journal articles here that you would miss otherwise.

CALI Lessons

Locating the Law

The law librarians at the Southern California Association of Law Libraries have created a wonderful, and concise, guide to legal research that includes California, Federal, and International legal materials.  All of these documents are in PDF format.   You will need Adobe Reader to view them.

These are selected chapters from this e-book.  If you would like to view the entire book you can access it via the SCALL website.

Other California Research Guides

Subject Guide