Foreign and Comparative Law

This guide is an introduction to researching jurisdictions outside the United States.


From the U.S. perspective, foreign law is law in jurisdictions outside the United States. Comparative law is the comparison of different legal systems. The sources listed in this guide are available in the Mabie Law Library, on subscription databases, or free of charge on the Internet.

Legal Systems

Legal Systems

The Mabie Library has several books discussing world legal systems, individually and in comparison to one another.

Introduction to Foreign Legal Systems (Danner and Bernal)
Law Reference K583 I57 1994

Accidental Tourist on the New Frontier: An Introductory Guide to Global Legal Research (Rehberg and Popa)
Law Stacks, Second Floor K85 A27 1998

Legal Traditions of the World (Glenn)
Law Stacks, Second Floor K559 G545 2004

An Historical Introduction to Modern Civil Law (Watkin)
Law Stacks, Second Floor K585 W367 1999

Studies in Modern Islamic Law and Jurisprudence (Arabi)
Law Stacks, Second Floor KBP62 A73 2001

Jewish Law (Elon)
Law Stacks, Second Floor KBM 520.5 E4313 1994

Canon Law Studies (Catholic University of America)
Law Stacks, Second Floor KBR22 C37 [no. 237 et seq.]
Additional volumes are in the University Library Microform Collection and in the ARS

For additional treatises on world legal systems, search OSCAR by subject (e.g., civil law, Jewish law, Islamic law) or keyword to determine relevant call numbers, then search OSCAR by call number or browse the library collection at the appropriate call numbers.

Also check legal periodicals, law blogs, the Legal Scholarship Network on SSRN, and bepress for articles about world legal systems.

Foreign Law

Foreign Law

Print materials on the legal systems of specific countries are located in Compact Shelving:

  • KD - KDK (United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland) and the Republic of Ireland)
  • KE (Canada)
  • KG - KGV (Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean)

and in the Second Floor Stacks at the following call number locations:

  • KH - KHW (South America)
  • KJ - KKZ (Europe)
  • KL - KWX (Asia and Eurasia, Africa, Pacific area, and Antarctica
  • KZ (International Law)

The Mabie Law Library's collection of foreign legal materials concentrates on common law countries and the European Union. Some foreign legal materials are available in microfiche, at the same call numbers as print materials.

For additional information about legal research in common law jurisdictions, see the Canadian Legal Research guide and the U.K. Legal Research guide. For additional information about researching European Union law, see the research guide on European Union Law.

An indispensable guide to foreign legal research is the Foreign Law Guide (Reynolds & Flores), which identifies legal publications from countries throughout the world and links to reliable online sources of foreign law.

Some foreign law materials are available on Westlaw (at the WestlawNext All Content tab, click on International Materials, then select a jurisdiction) and (from the LexisNexis for Law Schools home page, click on Go to LexisAdvance, then click on the red Research button near the top of the screen and select From the directory, click on Find Laws by Country or Region, then Foreign Laws & Legal Sources, then select a country). Foreign law will be added to LexisAdvance before the end of 2016.

The Mabie Law Library subscribes to LexisNexis China, a database of Chinese law in translation and in the vernacular. For additional information about Chinese legal materials, see the Chinese Legal Research guide. We also subscribe to vLex Global which is particularly strong for countries in which Spanish is an official language. Manupatra includes primary and secondary legal materials from India. From time to time, the law library has trial subscriptions to other foreign law databases. We can sometimes arrange for SCU Law students to use electronic resources at other Bay Area Law Libraries. Check with a Research Librarian to see what resources are available.

The journals and law reviews databases on Westlaw, and LexisAdvance include many articles on foreign law, in full text. Also consider searching legal periodical indices such as the Index to Legal Periodicals and the Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals, for citations to additional journal articles. Ask at Research Services if you would like assistance searching these databases or indices.

Also check legal scholarship repositories, such as the Legal Scholarship Network on SSRN, and bepress for recent materials.

There are also a number of law blogs following developments in foreign law. Check the blogroll on Opinio Juris or try a blog search to locate materials.

Heafey Law Library Research Team