Law Libraries & Other Legal Research Options

Updated Nov. 19, 2007.

Due to a security threat, Wm. H. Gates Hall is open only to members of the UW School of Law community and other UW students attending scheduled classes in the building. Consequently, the Gallagher Law Library is also available only to those individuals. We apologize for the inconvenience this limited access policy will cause our other users.

All users may still ask questions and get reference and research assistance from the reference librarians. Call (206) 543-6794 or submit questions via email.

Users may return Law Library books and other material by placing them in the book returns located at the main (Memorial Way) and west building entrances. Users may also renew books checked out from the Gallagher Law Library by phone (543-4086) or online via the My Library Account link on the Library's website.

In question-and-answer format, we describe alternatives for satisfying your legal research needs.

Borrowing Books from the Gallagher Law Library

How can a UW student or professor borrow books from the Law Library during this time?
Search Summit to identify books held by the Law Library and use the Request This Item feature to place your request. The book will be delivered to another UW library of your choosing
How can I obtain a brief or a microfiche item?
Contact a reference librarian by email or phone (206/543-6794) and we will make arrangements so that you can check out the item via Summit.
How can members of the public borrow books from the Law Library?
Contact your local library and ask for an Interlibrary Loan. Your local library may be a public library or a library that is associated with your educational institution, business, or law firm. Many books in the Law Library can be borrowed through this approach.

Law Libraries in Seattle & Washington State

Are any other law libraries in Seattle open to the public?
Yes. The King County Law Library is open to the public and the Seattle University Law Library provides limited public access (see below).

How do I contact these law libraries?
The King County Law Library phone number is (206) 296-0940. The Seattle University Law Library phone number is (206) 398-4221.

Where are these law libraries located?
The King County Law Library has two locations: The Main Library is in the King County Courthouse, 516 3rd Avenue. The Regional Justice Center is in Kent at 401 Fourth Avenue. The Seattle University Law Library is on the campus of Seattle University on First Hill, 900 Broadway.

When are these law libraries open?
The King County Law Library in Seattle is open Monday-Friday, 8am - 6pm and Saturday, 11am - 5pm.
The Regional Justice Center in Kent is open Monday-Friday, 8:30am - 5pm; closed Saturday and Sunday.
Visit the Seattle University Law Library hours page.

Do these libraries restrict public access in any way?
The King County Law Library places no restrictions on public access to its collections.
The Seattle University Law Library is a private law school library. Members of the public who want to use the library must sign in at the Circulation Desk. Users interested in seeing U.S. government publications (received through the federal depository library program) may use those materials for free. Users interested in working with other parts of the library collection must pay a $5/day fee.

How can I find out if one of the law libraries has the material I want to use?
Contact the libraries directly or use their online catalogs via the Internet.
King County Law Library in Seattle: (206) 296-0940 and Kent: (206) 205-2900 (Kent).
Online catalog. Email and live chat reference service.
Seattle University Law Library: (206) 398-4220 and online catalog.

Do these law libraries offer any online legal research services?
Yes. The King County Law Library offers access to limited databases on both LexisNexis and Westlaw, including Shepard's and KeyCite.

Are any law libraries outside of Seattle open to the public?
Yes. See the Gallagher guide on list of Law Libraries in Washington State and the U.S. and the directory of the Washington Association of County Law Libraries.

Do any of these law libraries accept reference questions by email?
Yes. In addition to the King County Law Library, the Washington State Law Library answers questions by email.

Other Libraries with Legal & Government Materials

Do any other libraries in Seattle have legal research materials?
Yes. The Seattle Public Library and the University of Washington Government Publications Department own many of the primary legal sources for research in U.S. and Washington State law. These libraries also participate in the federal depository library program, which provides a wide range of federal government documents for public use.

How can I find out more about these libraries?
Visit the Seattle Public Library website for information about locations, hours, collections, and services. Contact a reference librarian by phone (206) 386-4636 or use the email or live chat options.
Visit the UW Libraries Government Publications website for information about location, hours, collections, and services. Contact a reference librarian by phone (206) 543-1937 or use the email or live chat options.

What is the Federal Depository Library Program?
The program is a service of the U.S. Government Printing Office through which libraries around the country receive federal government publications in exchange for providing free public access to those materials. All types of libraries participate, including college and university libraries, law school libraries, public libraries, and government libraries. For more information, see About the FDLP.

Where can I find a list of other federal depository libraries?
The Government Printing Office maintains a list of federal depository libraries in Washington State. The list is arranged in alphabetical order by city. Note that not all federal depository libraries receive all of the same government publications. Each library chooses publications that will best serve its users.

Are there other lists of libraries in Washington State?
Yes. The Washington State Library provides a searchable directory of Washington Libraries.

Obtaining Photocopies of Legal Material

How can I obtain a copy of a case, law review article, or other legal source?
The Gallagher Law Library's Copy & Send service is a fee-based service that provides copies of legal materials to which the requester has a citation. To place a request, call the Reference Office (206) 543-6794 or complete the form on the Copy & Send website.

Legal Research on the Internet

Can I use the Internet to conduct legal research?
Yes! You can find many primary legal research materials (including laws, regulations, and cases) on the Internet. See the Gallagher guide on Internet Legal Resources for links to primary legal sources for Washington State and the U.S. federal government. LegalWA is a great place to find Washington laws, cases, and regulations.

How can I learn how to do research in specific subjects?
The Gallagher Law Library website contains dozens of legal research guides on a wide variety of topics. Most of these guides identify print and online sources, including free sources on the Internet. Other law libraries also prepare subject-oriented legal research guides, including the King County Law Library, the Seattle University Law Library, and the Washington State Law Library (informational brochures).
Findlaw is another good place to find information about subject-based legal research materials on the Internet.


Alumni Services

May a UW School of Law alumnus enter Wm. H. Gates Hall?
Unfortunately, the answer is no. The UW Police Department, in conjunction with Interim Dean Greg Hicks, are making the decisions about who has access to the building during this time of heightened security.
How can alumni get books from the Gallagher Law Library?
This summer the Library began a program called Law Books on Demand exclusively for UW School of Law alumni. The Library will mail books to alumni at no cost. Read more about the program on the Library Services for Law School Alumni page.