Law: FAQs

Frequently asked question from 1st year law students

What are Primary and Secondary Sources?

What's the difference between primary and secondary sources?
Secondary sources are the resources that assist you in locating and understanding the relevant primary sources.
Primary sources are the actual text of law, that is, legislation and case law.


For more in-depth information or further help check out the Legal Research Workshop 

10 most frequently asked questions from 1st year law students

1. Why can’t I just Google this?

SMJJP, '3D character and question mark': CC Licence: Attribution 2.0 Generic, Image source: flickr.Information found on Google is not necessarily from an authoritative source, may be out of date and may contain inaccuracies. 

2. How do I find a case when I have one or both of the party’s names?

Use a citator such as CaseBase or FirstPoint.

3. How do I find a case when I have a citation?/ Where do I find a list of citation abbreviations?

Use a citator such as CaseBase or FirstPoint. Access either the CaseBase Case Citator Abbreviations or the FirstPoint Table of Abbreviations via the database description page or the Help links within each database.  

4. How do I find out where a case has been reported and how it has been treated subsequently?

Use a citator such as CaseBase or FirstPoint.

5. How do I find cases which deal with a particular subject?

Do a free text search in either CaseBase or FirstPoint, or browse FirstPoint by subject. Alternatively, refer to footnotes in a legal encyclopaedia such as Halsbury's Laws of Australia or Laws of Australia.

6. How do I find cases which refer to a particular section of an Act?

Use a citator such as CaseBase or FirstPoint.

7. How do I get background information on a particular subject?

Use a legal encyclopaedia such as Halsbury's Laws of Australia, Laws of Australia or read commentary on that topic.

Image Source: Halsbury's Laws of Australia - LexisNexis   Image Source: The Laws of Australia - Thomson Reuters

8. How do I find legislation? / How do I establish whether it is current?

Use LAWLEX, Federal Register of Legislation or SA Legislation to find Australian legislation and make sure you check the currency of the latest version.

9. How do I find journal articles?

Use an index such as the Australian Legal Journals Index for Australian articles or the Index to Legal Periodicals Full Text for international articles.

10. How do I reference this?Australian Guide to Legal Citation (AGLC) 3rd ed - by the Melbourne University Law Review Association

Use the Australian Guide to Legal Citation (3rd ed) available online
or in print via the Library Catalogue.