Getting Started: General Library Resources
Searching the Online Catalog
The Pace Online Catalog has records of materials held by all Pace University Libraries (Law, Birnbaum, Mortola, and Graduate Center), including records for books, law reviews and journals (NOT articles therein), government documents, CDs and videotapes, databases, materials professors place on reserve, and more.
Access the Online Catalog from any computer through the Law Library website. Click the Online Catalog link.
Search the Online Catalog by Title, Author, or Keyword.
Note: Use an asterisk (*) to truncate a word. Typing crim* will retrieve all words beginning with crim, including crime, crimes, and criminal.
Note: If you use a phrase in keyword searching and retrieve nothing, re-do the search inserting "and" between each keyword.
Note: To search by Subject, you need to know the Library of Congress Subject Heading assigned to your topic. To determine the exact Subject Heading:
- Perform a Keyword search and find one item on your topic.
- Scroll down to the bottom of the record to the assigned Subject(s). Example: Income tax--Laws and legislation--United States.
- Click on a specific Subject to search for other items with the same heading.
View Results: A list of up to twelve items appears on each screen. Click Next, Prev, or the Result Page number to move through the list of results. To see a particular record, click on the underlined title, author or subject.
Limit/Modify Results if you have retrieved too many results. Specify a particular library location, publication date, or add additional words to your search.
Locate Materials in the Library: The full item record provides its location, call number, and status. LOCATION is the Pace Library that has an item. Materials at another Pace library may be ordered via Intercampus Loan; check "Request" to the right of the record. CALL NO. shows where an item is shelved in the Library. STATUS indicates an item is currently available, checked out, missing, etc.
Journal entries indicate the bound volumes the library has and the latest issue received. Bound volumes and current issues are on the first stack level in call number order. Pre-1996 journals are in storage and must be requested at the Circulation Desk; many are also available from HeinOnLine. Online journals have "Online" after the title. Click on the entry to see where they are available online.
Obtaining materials from other libraries. If the book you need is not owned by any Pace University library, click "ConnectNY" to search the online catalogs of the academic libraries in this consortium. Check "Request This Item" to borrow a specific book. If the material you want is not available at any ConnectNY library, you can request the material online through Interlibrary Loan.
HeinOnLine - Full text of selected law reviews; also available are the Code of Federal Regulations; Federal Register Library; Foreign & Internat'l Law Resources Database; Harvard Research in Internat'l Law; Kluwer Law Internat'l Journal Library; Legal Classics; National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws; NYS Court of Appeals Records and Briefs; Session Laws Library; Subject Compilations of State Laws; UN Law Collection; US Code; Statutes at Large; Federal Legislative History; Congressional Documents; Federal Agency Documents, Decisions, Appeals; Att'y General Opinions; Presidential Library; Supreme Court Library.
Access remotely using your Pace Portal user name and password.
Treat Your Assignment Professionally!
- Treat your research assignment as if your professor was either a partner in a firm or your client.
- Take it seriously and be professional at all times.
Know the Basics
- What, when, where, who, why, how
Know the Scope of Your Project
- Make sure you understand the project. (What is it that you will be working on?)
- What are your professor's expectations? (Make sure you both are clear on it)
- If you don't understand, ask question(s), repeat the explanation of the project back to the professor, or paraphrase it, but make sure you fully understand.
- What are the deadlines for what parts of the project? (Set up a calendar)
- Should you have regular meetings? If so, how often?
- Are you expected to provide regular updates on your progress? If so, in what format and how often?
- Don't be afraid to ask your professor to recommend a place to start. (Sometimes your professor may suggest a book, article, case, author, or any other source for you to start with, which can save you a lot of time in the beginning.)
- How much time and effort (=money) are you expected to devote to this project?
- How are you expected to present the results? (How should your research be memorialized?)
- What is your professor's preferred way of communication? Settle on one to avoid miscommunication.
- Are you working in a group? (figure out communication with your collaborators)
- Settle on a way to share information if you are working in a group.
- How should you be sharing information with your professor?
Articulate the Legal Question
- This may keep changing as you move forward with your research.
- Know the jurisdiction. (personal, geographical, subject matter)
- Civil or criminal?
- Public or private?
- Substantive or procedural?
- Who are the parties? (identify the type of entity)
- What relief is being sought?
Plan Your Research
- What sources will you need to consult?
- Statutes, case law, regulations, or administrative decisions?
- International Treaties, Agreements, Contracts, MOUs, Conventions, Declarations, or International Customary Law?
- Secondary materials: journal articles, law reviews, encyclopedias, hornbooks, treatises, overviews, summaries, newspapers, or annotations?
- Will you need to use specialized databases?
- Will you need to consult Internet resources?
- Will you need to request materials from other libraries? (You may not know the answer to this question in the beginning of your project, but be aware that you may need to do so and it takes time.)
- Is there a research guide including my topic that can help me to get started?
- Did you ASK your professor to recommend a source or other starting point?
- Even in a firm you will keep a work log, so why not now?
- Keep track of all you do
- Research, search terms, search strings, results
- All sources you have consulted (whether print or online)
- Keep track of authors, titles, page numbers, volumes, and dates of publications
- Figure out a way to manage your online research (keep track of dates you have visited sites and note all URLs)
Legal Research Basics
Develop your research vocabulary (This may need to be modified as you find new materials.)
Use keywords and terms of art from indexes, digests, library catalogs, or online databases
Use a legal dictionary, thesaurus, encyclopedia, or treatises to identify alternatives
Good place to start is a secondary source
Secondary sources discuss, analyze, explain, and provide an overview about the law; help to gain familiarity with terms of art and issues; lead to primary sources
One Good Case Method
Start with the "one good case."
Ask your professor.
Consult a secondary source.
Work with annotated statute. (Cross references case law and includes practice commentaries.)
Use Shepard's (Lexis.com or Lexis Advance) and KeyCite (WestlawNext) to find citing references and table of authorities of your "one good case."
Use the West Key Number System (Relevant topic and key number from your "one good case" can be used to find other cases assigned to the same topic and key number.
Searching for Articles
Articles from legal publications can be found through online and print indexes.
Legal Source indexes articles from 1,400+ major academic and commercial law reviews, international legal journals, legal newspapers, and specialty law and bar association journals from 1980 to the present. Use Pace Portal to access off campus.
The default is a "Subject Guide" search. It searches the subject headings in the database. If your enter a designated subject heading, a list of the articles under that heading will be produced. If your search term is not an designated subject heading, the result will be a list of subjects that contain that term.
Other search options are:
- Relevance Search, which looks for words and word variants, alone and in combination.
- Keyword Search lets you match words in the articles themselves, not just controlled index terms.
- Advanced Search, which allows for a search by Keywords, Date, Journal name, Subject, Title, Author, Abstract, Content, or Record number.
The same information can also be accessed through Westlaw's Legal Resource Index database (LRI). One benefit of using Westlaw is that hyperlinks are provided when the full text of a document is available.
Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals (IFLP) is an online index to multilingual articles published worldwide on public and private international law, comparative law, and the municipal law of countries other than the U.S.
New York Times (Historical) contains the searchable full text from 1851 to 2004.
Locate Print Law Reviews for the last 10 years on the first stack level. Law reviews published prior to the last 10 years are stored off-site and will be retrieved by library staff upon request.