Prepared by Mary Whisner for Bridge the Gap.
Updated Feb. 17, 2009.
Lawyers research often encompasses more than "legal research."
Litigators, scholars, and policy makers need to know something about the real world -- so
they might need statistics, news stories, scholarship from other disciplines, and
information as basic as addresses and phone numbers.
Since law touches on so many aspects of life, some legal researcher may need to get
information about almost anything -- from engineering (technical specifications about a
piece of equipment involved in litigation, for instance) to medicine, anthropology to
As you work on your various legal projects, be open to nonlegal information. Recognize
that you will sometimes need to look beyond legal sources and might even need to leave the
Become familiar with some standard tools. Remember the tools you used as an undergraduate and in the other work you did
before law school. When you try out a new tool, look for a table of contents, an index,
and an introduction that explains how to use it.
Explore nonlegal databases. For instance, through your law school account, you may have
access to your universitys subscriptions to economics, business, and medical
databases. LexisNexis and Westlaw both have many nonlegal databases. If you are working
in a commercial setting, be aware of the pricing. Some of the nonlegal
for instance, have a different price structure than the legal databases.
Ask a librarian for help. For instance, if you need business
information, go to the
Foster Business Library at the University of Washington or
Seattle Public Library (which has an
excellent business collection) and ask a reference librarian to suggest
The UW Libraries Subject
Guides page provides lists of recommended resources for several dozen
topics, including American Indian studies, business, China studies,
economics, environmental sciences, government publications, international
studies, Japanese studies, medicine, political science and public affairs,
and public health. The
Reference Tools page links to a variety of dictionaries, quotation
collections, directories, and more.
Associations Unlimited (UW
Restricted) has profiles of over 150,000 organizations -- U.S.,
international, and U.S. regional. (You might be familiar with the print
set this grew out of: Encyclopedia of Associations, HS17.G334 2007
at Reference Office.)
- U.S. Government Manual, annual. JK421.U57, latest edition at
Reference Area & Reference
Office, . Available on
GPOAccess and on
- Washington State Yearbook. JK9230.W38 current at Reference Area
& Reference Office
See also the Gallagher guide on People-Finding guide for additional directories and biographical sources.
- Fedstats links to statistics
from over 100 federal agencies.
- U.S. Census Bureau, Statistical Abstract of the United States,
annual. HA202, current at Reference Office and Reference Area. Current and
all the back years (1878-present) available
- U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sourcebook of
Criminal Justice Statistics. HV7245.S68, current at Reference
Office, available online.
See also various statistical
tables and charts on the Bureau of Justice Statistics website.
- U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, Uniform Crime Reports for the
United States (Crime in the United States, annual. HV6787.A3, current at
Reference Office, 1995-present available
- U.S. Census Bureau and Centers for Disease Control,
A network of data libraries covering census data, economic data, health
data, income and unemployment data, population data, labor data, cancer
data, crime and transportation data, family dynamics, and vital
- U.S. House Ways and Means Committee,
Background Material and Data on
Programs Within the Jurisdiction of the House Ways and Means Committee
(The Green Book) provides
"descriptions and historical data on a wide variety of social and economic
topics, including Social Security, employment, earnings, welfare, child
support, health insurance, the elderly, families with children, poverty
- The World Almanac and Book of Facts, annual. AY67.N5W7, current
at Reference Area & Reference Office
- American Bar Association, Market Research Department,
links to sources for statistics about lawyers, law students, legal
education, and related topics.
- Nationmaster offers graphs comparing statistics
from different nations on a wide variety of topics.
- Statistical Universe (UW
Restricted). Searchable database with hundreds of thousands of tables
from government and private sources.
- UW Libraries
English Usage Sources
See also Legal & General Writing Resources
with citations to print and online sources.
- The Yale Book of Quotations. PN6081 .Y35 2006 at Reference
- Familiar Quotations [Bartletts], 16th ed. PN6081.B27 1992 at Reference
10th edition of Bartletts (1919) is
- Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations Requested from the
Congressional Research Service. PN6081.R435 1989 at Reference Area
- Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, 4th ed. PN6080.O95 1992 at
Oxford Reference Online: Quotations (UW
Does NOT include:
Oxford Dictionary of American Quotations
The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Quotations
The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations. PN6080 .O95 1992 at Reference
The Oxford Dictionary of Modern Quotations. PN6080.O94 1991 at
The Oxford Dictionary of Scientific Quotations
- The Oxford Dictionary of American Legal Quotations.
KF159.S53 1993 at Reference Area & Reference Office
Oxford Dictionary of Twentieth Century Quotations. PN6080 .O955 1999
at Reference Area
- The Oxford Book of Humorous Quotations. PN6084.H8 O94 1995 at Reference Area
For other quotation sources, search the Law Library's catalog, MARIAN,
for the subject heading "quotations".
- Physicians' Desk Reference: PDR. RS75.P5, current at Reference
- Physicians' Desk Reference for Nonprescription Drugs.
RM671.A1P48, current at Reference Area
- Medical Abbreviations: 8600 Conveniences at the Expense of Communications and Safety,
6th ed. R123.D35 1993 at Reference Area
- Stedman's Medical Dictionary, 25th ed. R121.S8 1990 at
Reference Area, available on Westlaw (STEDMANS)
- Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary, 15th ed. R121.T3 1988 at
- American Psychiatric Association,
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-IV.
RC455.2.C4 D54 1994 at Reference Area. (Note: the current edition is DSM
- Westlaw: Attorney's Medical Deskbook (MEDDESK).
- The Merck Manual Online.
See also the UW Health Sciences Libraries,
Healthlinks. See our
research guides on
Health & Medicine.