Subject Area Highlight: Legal Resources from O’Neill Library
O’Neill Library has print and online subscriptions to many legal resources. Print materials at the Law School Library are available to everyone in the Boston College community; however, many of their online legal databases are contractually restricted to current Law School students and faculty. O’Neill Library has subscriptions to the two leading legal databases, Lexis-Nexis and Westlaw; these databases are available to all current Boston College students, faculty and staff. The O’Neill subscriptions are for the academic versions of these products and do not include some of the specialized legal documents available in the Law School versions, but they do have basic legal documents such as federal and state cases, current laws and secondary legal materials. They also contain legal documents from the European Union and extensive non-legal news.
Some of the unique features of Lexis-Nexis Academic can be found in the Commonwealth and Foreign Nations section which includes cases from Canada, Ireland, Australia, Mexico, Hong Kong, UK, and South Africa along with treaties and international agreements. Lexis-Nexis Academic also has a section on tax law which includes the Internal Revenue Code, Treasury Regulations and the full text of many tax related journals. Westlaw Campus Research has a major legal encyclopedia, American Jurisprudence, and American Law Reports (ALR) which contain articles called annotations summarizing the law on a particular issue.
Another difference between Lexis-Nexis Academic and Westlaw Campus Research is their interfaces. Westlaw Campus Research has a simple menu and allows you to choose your search method. Westlaw defaults to a “Natural language” meaning that it will find documents that are most likely to be relevant to your search by using statistical relevancy. This is an easy way to start legal research. The drawback in Westlaw Campus is that before printing you must download the document. Lexis-Nexis Academic is a bit more difficult to use, but has easier printing options. Both databases allow documents to be emailed.
The Boston College Community does have access to several legal databases provided by the Law School. These include two indexes - The Index to Legal Periodicals and LegalTrac. Indexes are often a good way to start legal research. We also have access to Hein Online which provides access to the full text of legal periodicals with a focus on retrospective coverage not available in other databases, many pre-1980. The Law School Library also provides access to the electronic version of the Religion Case Reporter, which reports and indexes federal and state judicial opinions addressing the free exercise of religion, state establishment of religion, the clergy and religious institutions.
A legal title owned by O’Neill Library, but not by the Law Library, is The Education Law Reporter (O’Neill Reference KF3110 .A2 W47) which covers selected state and federal education cases from 1982 to date and includes summaries of grants, awards and regulations from the U.S. Department of Education, as well as articles authored by education experts. Other print titles in the O’Neill collection are The Labor Law Reporter (O’Neill Reference HD6508 .C658) and The Arms Control Reporter (O’Neill Reference JX1974. A73), a chronicle of treaties, negotiations, and proposals.
O’Neill Library also has electronic subscriptions to other law related materials such as Congressional Universe, which provides access to hearing transcripts, congressional committee reports, bills, public laws, selected committee prints, congressional documents, the Congressional Record from the 99th Congress to the present; CQ Supreme Court Collection, which has historical analysis, recent updates, and expert commentary about Supreme Court decisions, justices, institutional history; and several other databases from CQ (Congressional Quarterly).
To access the online databases go to the Boston College Libraries’ homepage and click on “Online Databases”. If you would like assistance using these materials, come to the reference desk in O’Neill Library or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.