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Legal research and writing

This guide provides an introduction to legal research and writing for law students.

About Legislation

Legislation is one of the primary sources of the law, the other being Case Law.

Legislation mainly consists of statutes and regulations which can be passed by the federal government, provincial or territorial government.

Statutes and regulations, as primary material, are binding authority.


Statutes are enacted by elected governments, parliament or legislatures.

One statute is paramount: the Constitution Act, 1982 (and associated statutes and appendices that form the Constitution of Canada).

All statutes – federal, provincial and territorial – must comply with Constitution.


Regulations set specific rules for fulfilling the purpose of a statute.

Regulations are called "subordinate legislation" – they are subordinate to statutes, the authority for a regulation must derive from its parent statute.

Regulations are not passed by Parliament or legislatures. Rather, they are prescribed by government departments or ministries. This allows them to be set or amended frequently or quickly.

Indigenous Law Research Unit

Val Napoleon and Hadley Friedland "An Inside Job: Engaging with Indigenous Legal Traditions Through Stories"  (2016) McGill LJ Journal 61:4 at 725 online.

Video: The Indigenous Law Research Unit's Methodology Explained by Hadley Friedland

Examples of projects using the ILRU Methodology: 

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