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Tip: The Canadian Encyclopedic Digest provides a comprehensive statement of the law, as derived from current statutes and relevant case law. Access it via Westlaw Next Canada. Use it as a starting point for questions like:
- Can I harvest the eggs of wild birds? (see wild bird entry)
- Do the police require a warrant to search a front yard during a narcotics raid? (see entry Narcotic Control--Search and Seizure— Warrantless Searches)
Use a dictionary for concise definitions of words/concepts.
- Barron's Canadian Law Dictionary. Available through Quicklaw.
- Irwin Law's Canadian Online Legal Dictionary. A crowdsourced Canadian legal dictionary, maintained by a reputable legal publisher.
- Multilingual Legal Glossary. Vancouver Community College's glossary provides 5500 Canadian legal definitions in 7 languages.
- Duhaime's Law Dictionary. Maintained by a Canadian lawyer. Especially useful definitions for those new to law.
- The Dictionary of Canadian Law [print]
- Sanagan's Encyclopedia of Words and Phrases, Legal Maxims, Canada [print]
- Barron's Canadian Law Dictionary [print]
- Black's Law Dictionary -- A classic for lawyers [print]
Encyclopedias can provide a helpful overview of a topic, listing key concepts, readings, and terminology.
- Encyclopedia of Forensic and Legal Medicine 2005
- Legal systems of the world: a political, social, and cultural encyclopedia [print]
Don't forget books! A book or book chapter can be tremendously useful for gaining an overview of your legal research area. Here are some sample legal books owned by SFU Library:
- An introduction to environmental law and policy in Canada 2015
- The end of the Charter revolution: looking back from the new normal [print]
- Sex and the Supreme Court: obscenity and indecency law in Canada [print]
Specialized texts and legal commentary
There are a number of key sources in various areas of the law that outline, define, and explain the law. For instance, in Criminal Law, there are several annotated Criminal Codes, such as Martin's Criminal Code of Canada which presents criminal cases by section of criminal law and discuss how the law has been applied.
Please contact your liaison librarian for more information in your topic area.
Online introductions to Canadian legal research
- Best Guide to Canadian Legal Research (from UBC)
- Guide to Legal Research (from the U of Toronto. Bora Laskin Law Library)
- Doing Legal Research in Canada by Ted Tjaden (lawyer/law librarian at the Bora Laskin Law Library, U of Toronto)
- Legal Services Society (BC) -- Online publications, such as Sponsorship Breakdown or Defending Yourself: Possession of an Illegal Drug, provide practical, introductory material about BC court procedures and laws
- People's Law School (BC) -- Publishes dozens of DIY and introduction legal materials, in print and downloadable PDF format.
- Clicklaw -- Legal resources for the community: "Understand your rights, solve legal problems". Clicklaw provides access to many publications providing plain-language overviews of legal topics, ranging from the Guide to the Mental Health Act to Buying a Used Car
- Courthouse libraries are good resources for searching for case law and other information to support you in a legal case -- Courthouse Libraries of BC Library Use Protocol