Law Libraries, Websites, and Self-Help Books

Law Libraries

Law libraries are a great resource if you are representing yourself or if you just want to be better informed about the law.

Law libraries have books about:

  • Child custody,
  • Small claims,
  • Writing a will,
  • Being arrested, and
  • Other common legal problems.

Law libraries usually have self-help legal books. These books are written for people who are not lawyers. They explain the law in plain English and sometimes give you tips on how to handle your case. If you cannot find them in your law library, try your favorite bookstore or public library.

In addition to self-help books, you can read the laws and cases interpreting the laws. You can also find practice guides written for lawyers that provide more detailed information than self-help books.

You can also ask the librarian for materials on "reserve" or at the "reference desk."

To find a law library in your area:

Law Librarians on the Internet

California's county law libraries have created an online service that lets you chat live with a law librarian. The librarian can suggest or guide you to free online legal resources, recommend books and research techniques, and answer factual questions. Law librarians CANNOT interpret the law or give legal advice. Use the online Ask a Law Librarian service for research advice.

Law Library Research Guides

Sometimes law libraries have "research guides" that list books with information on your topic. Ask your law librarian for a research guide. Click to find a law library near you. Some law libraries also post their research guides online:

Garret W. McEnerney Law Library, Boalt Hall School of Law
Click on “Research Guides” in the list under “Research” on this site’s home page.

Hastings Law Library, Hastings College of the Law
In the middle column, use the pull down the menu under “Research Guides” and select CA Legal Forms.

Hugh & Hazel Darling Law Library at the UCLA Law School

The following county law libraries also post online research guides:

Public Libraries

Many public libraries also have self-help legal books. Find a public library in your area.

Websites

The Internet has many resources with information about many different types of legal problems.  When you use the Internet, make sure that you are visiting a reputable website. Just because it is on the Internet, does not mean it is true or accurate.  Also, make sure that you are reading about information relevant to California and not another state which may have different laws.

Self-Help Legal Books

Self-help legal books are written for people who are not lawyers. They explain the law in plain English and sometimes give you tips on how to handle your case. Many law libraries and public libraries can loan you self-help books. Or you can check your local bookstore.

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