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Skip to 0 minutes and 5 seconds CAROLINE KNAGGS: My name is Caroline Knaggs. And I’m a librarian in the law library Monash University. We are going to talk about how to get started finding the law and understanding its meaning. Law is not static but evolves and changes regularly as new legislation is passed through Parliament and new judgments or cases are handed down by the courts. So being able to conduct legal research effectively will help you to feel confident in finding the current law. In Australia, there are freely available handbooks online, covering all aspects of life’s interactions with the law in the state or territory in which you live.

Skip to 0 minutes and 47 seconds So for example, in Victoria, the law handbook published by the Victoria Legal Service is a great resource, as it gives an overview of the law and how it affects every day life. This is what the handbook looks like. Use the contents to go in and have a look around. Another useful site is Everyday Law, friend of Victoria Law Foundation, which will assist you to find and understand the law related to everyday events, such as traffic offenses. These are two local examples, but you will need to investigate, research, and read to find out about the law in your country. Here are some examples to get you started. You probably use Google extensively.

Skip to 1 minute and 34 seconds But did you also know that there is an advanced Google? Advanced Google enables you to tally your search. You can see here that you can be quite specific with how you enter your search terms. You can combine your terms. You can limit to specific domains, for example dot gov for government sites or dot edu for education institutions and to specific jurisdictions, such as dot au for Australia or dot nz for New Zealand. You will find that there’s a lot of information readily available. But you need to be careful and assess what you find to ensure the information is accurate, current, and reliable. To do this, you could check where the information has come from.

Skip to 2 minutes and 25 seconds You should always cross check and compare what you find also. I’m going to search intellectual property as a phrase and add in the terms song, or music, or composition, and limited government websites in Australia because I want to find out what’s happening locally. Here are my results. And scanning through, there are a range of materials I’ve found. There are a couple of references to cases and to legislation, both of which are primary sources of law, and to various reports, guides, and websites, which discuss intellectual property and help you to understand that area of the law. These are secondary sources or commentary. Advanced Google also includes various tips to help you to enter the search.

Skip to 3 minutes and 21 seconds Why don’t you try out some searches in Advanced Google and see what you can find?

How to start finding the law

Watch Caroline show you how to use advanced search features to help you start finding law resources online.

Go to See also for a link to Advanced Google and a list of law-related resources mentioned by Caroline in her video.

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This video is from the free online course:

Law for Non-Lawyers: Introduction to Law

Monash University