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How to Find Law Journal Articles

Introduction

Law journals (sometimes called law reviews) contain scholarly articles on fairly narrow legal and law-related topics. Journal articles, like other types of secondary sources, can be used to better understand the law and to find references to relevant primary sources (cases, statutes, regulations, etc.). They also provide in-depth legal analysis, critical perspectives on the law, and proposals for legal reform. As a result, law journal articles can be particularly useful for students working on projects for law or law-related courses.

Law journal articles can be found through four different databases accessible on the USC campus. A fifth database, Google Scholar, is available free on the Internet.  Three of these databases contain the actual full-text of the articles, while the other two are periodical indexes which mainly provide citations to the articles and classify them by topic. Both types of databases should be used, since each type has its advantages and disadvantages.

Law journal article citations usually begin with the name of the article's author and the article title. These are typically followed by the volume number, journal title abbreviation, initial page number, and year -  information which allows you to locate the article (e.g., 77 So. Cal. L. Rev. 123 (2003) refers to page 123 of volume 77 of the Southern California Law Review, published in 2003). Law journal title abbreviations are listed in the standard legal citation manuals (which are referenced in the USC Law Library's Guide to Legal Abbreviations and Citations).