Free foreign legal research websites I
In today’s globalized world, international transactions are on steady rise, which in turn increases instances where American lawyers need to be acquainted with foreign law. However, in law school, legal research is focused on lexis or westlaw research that when it becomes necessary at work, you are basically on your own. It is daunting tasks for someone with only U.S. legal education to research the relevant foreign law or even know where to look for them. Unlike U.S., where there are centralized database systems, such as westlaw and lexis, there are many countries, in fact, more countries than not, that do not have such centralized legal guide and it may be frustrating to search for law or cases that are scattered over various websites. Of course, there are some excellent foreign legal guides such as Reynolds & Flores. However, access to these websites are limited as they are subscription based. Fortunately, there are some non-profit organizations that put together foreign legal documents online. Among these websites, I found three to be most useful and well organized; GLIN, Globalex and Lexadin. Today, I’d like to introduce GLIN and will continue with other websites on my next post.
GLIN (Global Legal Information Network)is a searchable online database containing official texts of laws, regulations, judicial decisions, and other complementary legal sources contributed by governmental agencies and international organizations. They do have membership, but most of the material in GLIN is freely accessible to the public and the system does not require a user ID or password for search purposes. I had an opportunity to attend the Annual GLIN Directors Meeting held at the Korean National Assembly last year and it seemed really devoted about making legal documents available to public through online. It seems to be realizing its mission to acquire, store and provide timely access to body of critical research and reference material. I believe this website will continue to be an important source and suggest you to use this website as a starting point of your foreign legal research. The website is user friendly and provides various ways to conduct research. For the first time users, I suggest clicking the help center tab to learn about various search functions it provides.
Next time, I will continue with other free online foreign law guides.