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Legal research and writing

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

About legal dictionaries and words and phrases

Legal dictionaries, including words and phrases, are reference tools that can help researchers understand legal terms and maxims. These resources can offer information about the technical legal use of each word.

These resources generally do not offer much explanation and cannot be used as a substitute for legal interpretation of a particular term in a factual context.

Legal dictionaries

Legal dictionaries offer brief definitions or translations of established legal terms and maxims, some of which are derived from languages such as Latin and French. Case citations usually accompany each entry to explain its use in context or the origins of the term.

Words and Phrases

Words and phrases are a category of legal dictionaries that define legal terms in context. Usually each entry will contain several quotations from cases in which that term is considered – along with the case citation.

Because some words and phrases are used in multiple areas of the law with different meanings, each entry is accompanied with a reference to the area of law in which it is used.

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This work by The University of Victoria Libraries is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License unless otherwise indicated when material has been used from other sources.