Resource Spotlight: Locating & Using 50-State Surveys

A 50-state survey is a specialized secondary source that compares laws on a particular topic across all 50 states.  They might be as lengthy as a book treatment or as slim as a list of states with simple citations to relevant cases, statutes, or regulations.


One way to find multistate surveys is to simply search for the strings “50 state survey” or “fifty state survey” or “state by state survey.”  Some book- and article-length surveys can be found this way through NUsearch (for example, here).

In addition, both Lexis Advance and Westlaw have databases of 50-state surveys.


Bloomberg Law includes what they term “State Law Chart Builders.” These cover dozens of discrete topics within six broader areas of law. The created chart can then be downloaded as an Excel spreadsheet.

On Cheetah, users can find “smart charts” for various topics of law by clicking on a practice area on the home page and then looking to the “practice tools” section for that topic in the upper right of the page for that topic.  These charts can be downloaded as an Excel spreadsheet or as a Word document.


The Subject Compilations of State Laws is a biennial publication that dates back to 1960.  Available on HeinOnline, it indexes articles, briefs, books, government reports, and other sources that provide surveys of state laws.

Articles & ALRs

If all of the above fail, you can try to find surveys in law review articles or in annotations in American Law Reports.


Finally, back in 2014, I wrote a column for the Illinois Bar Journal on finding 50-state surveys when one doesn’t have access to databases like Lexis and Westlaw.  You can read that column (on Westlaw) here, or find it in print at Tom Gaylord, Fifty-State Surveys: Can They Be Had for Free, 102 Ill. B.J. 352 (2014).

Posted in Resource Spotlight

Resource Spotlight: International Encyclopaedia of Laws

Screenshot of International Encyclopaedia of Laws for Constitutional Law

Are you interested in foreign and international law and searching for an authoritative, peer-reviewed resource?  If so, consider using International Encyclopaedia of Laws, one of the many online resources available through the Pritzker Legal Research Center.

International Encyclopaedia of Laws is actually an umbrella title for several distinct, subject-specific resources, covering disciplines including civil procedure, contracts, constitutional law, criminal law, family law, and intellectual property.  Importantly, the title “Encyclopaedia” is somewhat of a misnomer, as these resources are far from general. Instead, each contains extensive, heavily-footnoted chapters devoted to the laws of specific countries, written by experts in the respective fields.  For a more-detailed description of content, as well as a look the editorship structure and publication guidelines, visit

To access International Encyclopaedia of Laws here at Northwestern, you may visit the Law Library’s listing of databases beginning with “I” or may follow one of these direct links:

IEL: Civil Procedure
IEL: Commercial and Economic Law
IEL: Constitutional Law
IEL: Contracts
IEL: Corporations and Partnerships
IEL: Criminal Law
IEL: Family and Succession Law
IEL: Intellectual Property
IEL: Labour Law and Industrial Relations
IEL: Private International Law

Posted in Resource Spotlight

New Resources in September 2018

pile of five books

The Pritzker Legal Research Center added over 270 new items to our collection in September 2018. Check out what we’ve added on our New Books List.

Posted in Library Resources

Resource Spotlight: Leadership Connect

YellowBooksThis month’s featured resource is the Leadership Connect database. It was previously known as Leadership Library and many of you may be familiar with it by the nickname given to its print counterpart, the Yellow Books.  The directories in Leadership Connect contain detailed contact information—including emails and direct-dials for individuals working in federal, state and local governments, companies, news media, law and lobbying firms, professional associations and nonprofits.

The law firm directories include 82,000 individuals in leadership roles including managing partners, practice heads, judges, and law clerks.  The database allows you to search across law firm headquarters, branch offices, committees, and practice groups. You can also filter by attorney specialty, practice area, firm size, or location and view contact details and biography information.Leadership_Connect_-Attorneys by specialty

The Congressional directory includes entries for representatives, chiefs of staff, legislative directors, legislative assistants, schedulers. The media directory includes 60,000 media contacts for editors, reporters, producers, guest bookers, columnists, bloggers and online journalists, researchers, hosts, and senior management.  You are able to view listings for reporters broken out by bureaus/desks, with full contact info and social media accounts.

Posted in Resource Spotlight

New Resources in July 2018

multicolored sail boat on shore overlooking sea under daytime skyThe Pritzker Legal Research Center added over 250 new items to our collection in July 2018. Check out what we’ve added on our New Books List.

Posted in Library Resources

Resource Spotlight: PLI Plus

PrintThe library recently subscribed to PLI Plus, which provides access to treatises and answer books, forms, course handbooks, and transcripts from PLI’s seminars. PLI Plus is an excellent resource for transactional law research, but also contains useful materials for those who are litigation-focused.

Practising Law Institute is a non-profit continuing legal education organization. If you are starting off your research by consulting a secondary source (as any law librarian would recommend), keep PLI Plus in mind as an additional resource to consult, especially because PLI content is no longer available through Bloomberg Law.

PLI Plus allows you to browse for content or run keyword searches to find relevant content. If you browse for content, you may filter the results by format, date, practice area, and author in the left sidebar. You can download PDF copies of chapters in course handbooks, treatises, and answer books by clicking on the PDF icon.

Previous editions of answer books and treatises are available through PLI Plus, but the database will indicate when you are looking at an older edition in case you really meant to take a look at the most recent edition. You can also verify that you are looking at the most recent edition by clicking on the “Related Items” tab, which provides a list of all editions available for that title.

Looking for sample agreements and clauses? Search for transactional forms by conducting keyword searches across all available forms, then take advantage of the advanced search options to search by form title, book title, date, practice area, or form type while at it.

PLI Plus 2

You can download forms in rich text format (RTF) so you can easily edit them in Word. This is not at all an unprecedented feature available in a database that provides access to forms, but always incredibly useful!

Tagged with:
Posted in Resource Spotlight

4th of July Holiday Hours

flagIn observance of Independence Day, the library will close early on Tuesday, July 3 at 5:00 pm and be closed on Wednesday, July 4.

Posted in Holidays

Resource Spotlight:

Ever heard of link rot? Or reference rot? If you’ve used the internet, you’re guaranteed to have encountered it whether or not you’ve heard of it by name. Link rot happens when a URL no longer works, instead displaying the dreaded 404 error or bogging down your browser until it inevitably fails to load anything. Reference rot is a similar but equally frustrating problem: it’s when a URL works but the content to which it should be pointing has been moved or removed. Both of these digital preservation curses are a festering plague for legal citations everywhere, as this Harvard Law Review Forum post details, but thanks to the Harvard Library Innovation Lab there is a simple solution:

 If you’re citing to web-based references in your legal writings, you should be using it.  In fact, if you’re working on any of our law review journals, we already created a guide just for you. Why? Because Perma makes an archival copy of the web page and gives you an indelible, i.e. permanent, link that will always lead the reader back to the exact material they’re supposed to find. Through a consortium of academic libraries and nonprofits, Perma divides the burden of retaining the archival cache while also increasing the likelihood of its endurance through the longevity of academic institutions. Rest assured your Perma links will be viable for many years to come thanks to this ingenious design.

How does work? Three simple steps. 1) Find a web resource you want to cite and log in to your account. 2) Copy the URL and paste it into the creation box.


3) Click ‘Create Perma Link’ and wait a few seconds for a new permanent URL to appear at the top of your screen.


From then on you use the new Perma link in your writing, ensuring the reader can always find the archived version of the web resource you cited. On the back end you can organize your Perma links in the same fashion you organize files and folders on a network. With our institutional account, there are no limits on the number of Perma links you can create.

And for the record, The Bluebook encourages the use of an archival tool when there’s a reliable archival tool available (see Rule 18). With, there is! If you haven’t already discovered Perma, contact the PLRC to get your login and join the good fight against link and reference rot in legal scholarship!

Tagged with: , ,
Posted in Resource Spotlight

New Resources in June 1018

RainbowThe Pritzker Legal Research Center added over 230 new items to our collection in June 2018.  Check out what we’ve added on our New Books List.

Posted in Library Resources

Prepare to Practice Research Review

If you weren’t able to make the Prepare to Practice research sessions in April, we will offer an encore session on Wednesday, May 9th from 12:00 – 2:00 pm in RB203 (lunch provided). If you can’t make it to campus, the session will also be streamed online (join meeting at  and the materials are available on our Prepare to Practice Research Guide.

For research help all summer long, reference librarians are available to answer your questions Monday-Friday 9:00 am – 5:00pm.  You can email us at or call the reference desk at 312-503-8450.  We are also available to respond to quick questions via chat.

Posted in Uncategorized