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Practical legal research resources

This page contains research tools and tutorials on different aspects of Practical Legal Research. If you feel you would benefit from more information make an appointment with your Academic Librarians by clicking the 'Get Help' button below.

Legal dictionaries and encyclopedia

  • Halsbury's Laws - the major legal encyclopedia covering cases, legislation and commentary on legal topics.  Available online on Lexis Library.
  • Words and Phrases legally defined. available online on Lexis Library (find under 'Sources')
  • Oxford Reference - contains many legal dictionaries, including A Dictionary of Law and A Guide to Latin in International Law
  • Lexis Library - search for terms in the 'Glossary' box on the search home page.
  • Westlaw Index of Legal Terms  - from the Westlaw home page under the "Index of Legal Terms" tab. It contains the three comprehensive and authoritative legal dictionaries; Stroud's Judicial Dictionary of Words and Phrases, Jowitt's Dictionary of English Law and Osborn's Concise Law Dictionary as well as the Statutory definitions that form part of Westlaw UK Legislation documents. 
  • Westlaw Insight - use this by clicking on the topics listed on the Westlaw home page. An online legal encyclopaedia that aims to provide a comprehensive statement of the law in the United Kingdom. 

Online practitioner resources

Encyclopaedia of Forms and Precedents

Available online via Lexis Library (in your bookshelf on the right, or from the Forms and Precedents tab). Comprehensive source of precedents for (non-litigating) solicitors. It contains around 15,000 forms and precedents (including those for sale of land, landlord and tenant, commercial law, wills and trusts, family law).

Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations

This database allows you to search for the meaning of abbreviations for English language legal publications or search a publication title to find the approved abbreviation.

SRA Standards & Regulations 

These set out the standards and requirements the SRA expect their regulated community to achieve and observe, for the benefit of the clients they serve and in the public interest.

Cases - keeping up to date

RSS feeds and email updates can be created with both paid for and free resources so you can easily keep up with developments in the law.


The Incorporated Council of Law Reporting (ICLR) is the authorised publisher of the official series: The Law Reports for the Superior and Appellate Courts of England and Wales. They provide email and RSS alerts for Latest Case Summaries and Latest Published Cases.


The British and Irish Legal Information Institute (BAILII) is an organisation that aims to make the law available for free on its website. If you are interested in receiving notifications of new judgments from individual courts in the UK, or recent cases of interest, you can set up an RSS feed here:

Court websites

Many courts now publish judgments on their websites and often have an RSS feed option to allow you to stay up-to-date with new judgments. Here are a couple of examples:

European Court of Human Rights RSS

European Court of Justice RSS

Certificates and guides for databases

Get a certificate of your law research skills!

These comprehensive guides and tutorials provide an in-depth course in using these products. For many databases you can work through a tutorial to receive a certificate of achievement.