Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Quicklinks: law books and articles
Dictionaries and reference
Law dictionaries are useful for defining words and explaining concepts.
The print collection at and around K120 includes Butterworths New Zealand Law Dictionary (K120.5 HM93 2005), Black's law directory (K120.5 BL64) and other general law dictionaries, and dictionaries for specific jurisdictions and subjects.
Online sources include:
A legal encyclopedia is like a huge, comprehensive textbook, arranged alphabetically by title. It's a great place to start, especially for unfamiliar topics, as it will give you an overview, plus references to legislation and cases.
Key print sources:
- Laws of New Zealand (Law KG351 LD51)
- Halsbury's laws of Australia (Law KG51 H3)
- Halsbury's laws of England (Law KF85 H1 2008)
Key online sources:
New Books in the Law Library
Here are this week's new books, currently on display in the Law Library, opposite the Desk.
Also on display: journals, report series and current awareness tools like Butterworths Current Law and The Capital Letter.
Books and articles outside our collection
If you need a book that is not available here at Otago, you can borrow it from another NZ or Australian library for free! Request them through our Inter-library Loan Service.
Want help? Just ask.
Books and articles: secondary sources for law
Secondary sources are a good starting point for legal research. You get an overview of the topic, and references to primary sources (e.g. legislation and case law). But don't rely on secondary sources - they are not the law; and they are not always up-to-date either.
This page has information about
E-books and articles
There are a number of places to look for e-books (electronic books) and articles.
- Library Search | Ketu has records for most e-book and many e-journal titles
- you can search or browse specific titles or collections in law publishers' databases
- you can search Library Search - includes most subscribed content but generally does not include law databases (Brookers, Lexis, Westlaw, CCH)
- you can set up RSS feeds from a wide selection of journal table of contents (TOCs
- Check Westlaw NZ - A to Z
You can search or browse specific collections in general publishers' databases - this is particularly useful for inter-disciplinary research. Here are some e-collections with law-related content:
Edward Elgar Online
Books, research handbooks, encyclopaedias and reference works for Law, Business, Economics, and Social and Political Science.
Provides international coverage of law and law-related periodicals, for example: Law Journal Library, Legal Classics, Treaties & Agreements, English Reports, U.S. Statutes at Large, and, World Constitutions Illustrated.
Particular strengths lie in international law, human rights and transitional justice, transnational and comparative law, jurisprudence, and legal history.
Find Law Books in Library Search | Ketu
Use Library Search | Ketu to find books that will help with your legal research:
This is the recommended search option to find books.
Combine more than one search term - could be an author and a title keyword e.g. todd and torts
Course Reserve Search
Find textbooks, required and essential
readings for your course, e.g. LAWS101
Find articles using an index
We recommend using an index to find relevant articles - it's usually simpler and more efficient than full-text searching.
Start with LinxPlus - good for New Zealand content; then move on to LegalTrac, because it's bigger.
If you don't get a link to the full text, try Library Search | Ketu to find the journal title - try an advanced search,material type journals, and search for the title of the journal that contains your article.
For earlier material (anything before the mid-1980s), you'll want print sources as well - just ask.
Judge McElrea Restorative Justice Collection
The complete papers of New Zealand restorative justice advocate, educator and reformer FWM McElrea
The largest, free collection of scholarly journal Tables of Contents (TOCs). Get alerts when new issues of your Followed journals are published.
Legal Journals Index -via Westlaw
Articles from legal journals published in the United Kingdom and Europe as well as journals covering topics pertaining to the laws of the European Community and its Member States. Begins 1986.
LinxPlus (NZ journals -index)
Descriptions of journal articles from all major New Zealand law journals and reviews, as well as journals from other Commonwealth jurisdictions. NOT full text.
Commentary refers to a certain kind of publication of expert opinion, for example, Adams on Criminal Law, or Morison's Company Law. The aim is to bring together everything you might need to know about an area of law - legislation, cases, commentary - in one, easy-to-update package, so you need never leave your desk. They are used a lot in practice.
Check the Law databases page to see what online commentary we have available, or explore the major database sites, or just ask.
Law commission reports
Law commission reports are part of the law reform process. They offer a valuable critique of existing law, plus proposals for change.
You can find law commission reports
- via the catalogue
- by browsing the shelves, starting at KL160. There are separate sequences for each jurisdiction, with New
Zealand material at KL178
- or online
Online sources include:
WorldLII Law Reform
Free. Law reform publications available through the Legal Information Institute sites.
Law Reform Database
Free. Includes links to full text of many of the indexed documents. Includes some information about the implementation of report recommendations.