Useful Information for Exchange/Foreign Students

Revised August 27th, 2007

Useful Information for Exchange/Foreign Students
If you have not studied Canadian and BC law before, getting a quick overview of Canada’s legal system and legal research sources will help you.

Overview of Canadian Legal System
• Gall, Canadian Legal System, 5th ed / Gall (KE444 .G35 2004 (LC) Law Reserve) covers all aspects of Canada’s legal system and its legal institutions. Beginning with the nature and sources of Canadian law, it examines the constitutional division of legislative powers, and the impact of the Charter on legislative authority. Separate chapters detail the role and hierarchy of the courts, the role of judges and lawyers, and the principle of stare decisis in shaping judge-made law.
Compendium of Law and Judges provides a very general description of the law and the judiciary of British Columbia, concentrating heavily on criminal law.

Texts
• Reading Canadian law texts is the best way to get an overview of our law, since most law courses focus on individual cases illustrating principles of law.
Irwin Law [http://www.irwinlaw.com] texts provide good overviews. Many Irwin Law texts are available in Law Library’s Reserve collection.
Gehlen’s List of Suggested Textbooks provides topical lists of Canadian legal texts.

Comparative Law – is the study of differences and similarities between the law of different countries.
If you studied law elsewhere, you may wish to get a quick overview of Canadian or BC law and compare it with the law of your own country.
Martindale-Hubbell International Law Digest (K150 .M3773 Law Reference) summarizes the law of many countries.
Summaries are available for Canada (federal law) and its provinces (e.g. British Columbia).
A Table of Contents accompanies each summary providing an overview of the areas of law covered.
To compare to Americian law, use Martindale-Hubbell Law Digest (K150 .M3772 Law Reference) to find a summary of the law of any state in the United States.

Legal Research
• MacEllven, Legal Research Handbook, 5th ed (KE250 .M33 2003 (LC) Law Reserve): Chapter 1 is an excellent overview of legal research concepts, including: how to find relevant primary law; mandatory & persuasive authority; and how to frame a legal issue.
• A useful electronic legal research guide is:
– Best, Best Guide to Canadian Legal Research – explains the legal research process: see “Research Essentials

Law Library Research Guides especially Beginning Your Legal Research explain how to research Canadian law.

Canadian Cases (electronic)
• are freely accessible via Cases link on Law Library homepage; use CanLII: Canadian Legal Information Institute as a gateway to cases
Use CanLII’s Search help to design the best topic searches. Read CanLII’s Scope of Databases to see years for which cases are available.
• Cases reported in Dominion Law Reports (DLR) and Canadian Criminal Cases (CCC) are available in Commercial Databases via Law Library homepage
• Citations for cases in LexisNexis Quicklaw e.g. [2005] S.C.J. No. 76 or [2003] B.C.J. No. 2068 may be found using its “Find a Case by Citation” search.

Electronic statutes
• The most current Canadian (federal) & provincial statutes are provided via Commercial Databases (e.g. Canada Statute Service, QPLegaleze and BC Statute Service)
• Free internet versions of Canadian (federal) & provincial statutes are much less current. They are available via CanLII and through Legislation & Government link

Legal Citation
Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation, 6th ed. (K114 .C352 2002 Law Reserve/Reference) – the “McGill Guide” – provides rules for Canadian legal citation style.
Copies are kept in Reserve, at the Citation stand and in the Reference collection.
Neutral citation standard (e.g. 2005 SCC 14 or 2005 BCCA 10) was developed for cases in electronic format.
Citing your sources and avoiding plagiarism explains when to cite sources used for term papers and assignments.

Passwords for Subscription Databases
• see Elim Wong, Reference Librarian for access to passworded commercial databases, e.g. LexisNexis Quicklaw, WestlaweCARSWELL, CCH Online

Student outlines or CANS may be helpful when preparing for law exams.
CAVEAT: student outlines may be outdated or inaccurate so use them cautiously. Always verify & update information.
UBC LSS CANS [http://www.ubclss.org/lss_cans_info]
Phi Delta Phi CANS [http://faculty.law.ubc.ca/phideltaphi/links/CANS/CansLinksPage.html]
University of Victoria law students outlines [http://outlines.law.uvic.ca]

Law Exams [http://www.library.ubc.ca/law/exams/examlist.html]
• previous UBC Law exams are available on the Law Library website
• NO answers are available for these exams, and only the last 3 years worth are available.

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