Skip to main content

Law, Legal History Guide

Legal Dictionaries / Words & Phrases

Legal Dictionaries / Words & Phrases

Legal dictionaries and Words and Phrases can help you research the meaning of legal terms and the legal interpretation of legal words and phrases. This can help when you’re trying to interpret a statute for which there is no clear case law or if you’re trying to discern the meaning of a word in a key legal document, such as a contract or a will.

Legal Dictionaries

In addition to current legal dictionaries (Barron's Canadian Law Dictionary, Dictionary of Canadian Law, Black's Law Dictionary), we have several historical dictionaries, including:

Words & Phrases

In addition to current words and phrases sources (Words & Phrases Judicially Defined, Canadian Legal Words & PhrasesSanagan’s Encyclopedia of Words and Phrases), we have several historical ones, including:

Legal Encyclopedias

Legal Encyclopedias

Legal encyclopedias contain narrative summaries of the law supported by references to case law and statutes. They are often the best place to start to gain a general understanding of the law in a particular area.

There are two main legal encyclopedias in law: the Canadian Encyclopedic Digest (CED) and Halsbury's Laws of Canada (Halsbury's). CED covers federal, western, and Ontario jurisdictions, and Halsbury's covers all provincial and federal jurisdictions. Both are available in print in the Law Library in the reference section on the first floor. Electronically, CED is available in Westlaw Edge, while Halsbury's is available in Lexis Advance Quicklaw.

However, if you're researching legal history, you may want to consult older volumes of legal encyclopedias. The following encyclopedias may be helpful (note: items shown as LAW-SREF are in the superseded reference section on the third floor, and LAW-RBROOM materials are on the first floor in the Rare Books Room):

  • Canadian Encyclopedic Digest (Western)
  • Canadian Encyclopedic Digest (Ontario)
    • Covers federal and Ontario jurisdictions
    • Years covered: 1926–19331949–2007
    • Located in superseded reference, stack 364
  • Corpus Juris/Corpus Juris Secundum (American)
  • American Jurisprudence (2d)
    • Years covered: 1994–2003
    • Located in superseded reference, stack 366
  • Halsbury's Laws of England

Books

Books

To search for books at UNB Libraries, use UNB WorldCat. UNB WorldCat contains records of materials held at the Harriet Irving, Science and Forestry, Engineering, Hans W. Klohn, and Law libraries.

Search UNB WorldCat:
Limit to: 

Items shown as LAW-RESERVE may be requested at the circulation desk on the first floor of the Law Library. Bring the book's call number with you to the desk. Items shown as LAW-STACKS are on the second floor, and LAW-REF materials are on the first floor in the reference section.

You can find law-related eBooks in the following databases:

For more eBook databases and vendors, visit the UNB Libraries eBooks collection.

Journal Articles & Databases

Journal Articles & Databases

If you already know the journal title, year, volume number and page number for an article, you may be able to access it electronically by searching for the journal's title in the UNB e-journals database. If we have the journal electronically or in print, it will be listed. You can also look up the journal title in UNB WorldCat.

Keep in mind that it can be best to start with an index rather than a full-text database. An index is essentially a list of articles by topic. Sometimes the article will be available full-text, but often you'll just be given a citation that you can use to track it down somewhere else.

Indexes

Full-text databases

Case Law

Case Law

Canada

United Kingdom

United States

Cases Digests

Along with searching the databases mentioned above, you should use a case digest to find case law. A case digest service indexes cases by topic, and each topic is broken down into several subtopics. With a case digest, you might find ten, twenty, or hundreds of cases on your research topic, saving you hours of time.

If you're researching legal history, you may want to consult older volumes of case digests. The following digests may be helpful (note: items shown as LAW-SREF are in the superseded reference section on the third floor, and LAW-RBROOM materials are on the first floor in the Rare Books Room):

Legislation & Government Documents

Legislation & Government Documents

Canada

United Kingdom

United States

  • Congress.gov
    • Public laws and congressional bills from 103rd Congress forward, House and Senate reports from 104th Congress forward, the Congressional Record from 104th Congress forward, and bill status and summary information from 93rd Congress forward
  • HeinOnline: Session Laws
    • A comprehensive collection of federal legislation from Australia (1901–), Bahamas (1968–1996), Canada (1792–), and the United States (1789–), and US state session laws from colonial times to the present
  • Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation
    • Records and acts of Congress from the Continental Congress and Constitutional Convention through the 43rd Congress, including the first three volumes of the Congressional Record, 1873–75
  • GovInfo
    • Full-text access to bills beginning with the 103rd Congress, the Congressional Record from 1873–present, selected House and Senate hearings from the 99th Congress forward, and more

Other Jurisdictions 

  • CommonLII
    • Includes historical legislation and case law for several common law countries. Coverage varies.
  • HeinOnline: World Constitutions Illustrated
    • The world's current constitutions in their original languages and English translations
  • HeinOnline: Session Laws
    • Comprehensive collection of federal legislation from Australia (1901–), Bahamas (1968–1996), Canada (1792–), and the United States (1789–), and US state session laws from colonial times to the present
  • Internet Archive
    • Includes historical legislation, case law, and texts from many jurisdictions

More Information More Information