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Foreign, Comparative & International Law Special Interest Section


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Jumpstart Your Foreign, Comparative, and International Research

Looking for help? Our list of people willing to help answer FCIL research questions is available by Jurisdiction/Region and Topic.
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Use People Resources!

by Lyonette Louis Jacques & Mary Rumsey

When we need to jumpstart our research engines to help others find information, a world of people can help us. Working as part of a global legal information community can be pretty nifty! So, if your foreign, comparative, and international law (FCIL) research engine won’t start, find some people you can call on for a jumpstart. They can set you in motion to find the information you need to help your users!

How can you find helpful people when stumped by an FCIL research question?

Get to know your local FCIL resource people. Get to know the folks locally in your city, your state, your region who have experience working with FCIL materials, teaching FCIL research, and answering FCIL reference questions. They’re useful first contacts for jumpstarting your FCIL research engine.

Attend your local AALL chapter's FCIL programs and get to know the speakers. Attend FCIL-related programs of other local associations and institutions. Network, network, network. It’s easier to ask people for help when you’ve met them and they know you – they’re more likely to be willing to help or they’ll know other people who can help. FCIL folks help even when they don’t know you, too.

Get to know national and international FCIL experts and how to find them. Many of the folks who specialize in FCIL sources or whose job responsibilities involve work with FCIL materials are members of our SIS. The FCIL SIS also includes members who are interested generally in the area and are willing to help though not experts. The FCIL SIS has members who have foreign language skills, who teach FCIL research, and who handle FCIL materials in various capacities. They’re up-to-date on print and electronic resources that are useful for FCIL research. The FCIL SIS Teaching Interest Group’s webpage has links to FCIL syllabi and instructional material that can serve as FCIL research tools. Writers of those syllabi teach classes in FCIL research and are also potential resources for help with questions:

You can find specialists and folks interested in particular FCIL areas in FCIL SIS Interest Groups. The Interest Groups meet regularly at the AALL annual meeting. There are IGs on African Law, Asian Law, CIS and Eastern European Law, and Latin American Law. There are also the FCIL SIS Electronic Issues and Foreign Selectors Interest Groups. Chairs of those IGs can be contact persons for help with questions related to their IG topics or they might know other FCIL SIS members who can help:

You can also use the FCIL SIS discussion forum to ask your FCIL colleagues for help:

At every AALL annual meeting, the FCIL SIS has a reception for attendees from abroad. Drop in and meet some of the movers and shakers in the FCIL SIS as well as folks from the UK, South Africa, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, France, etc. The International Association of Law Libraries (IALL) also hosts a reception at the annual meeting. It’s a place where U.S. librarians with or without expertise in FCIL research can meet non-U.S. librarians from different parts of the world. You can meet FCIL SIS members there, too.

And, if you can, try to attend the annual meeting of the American Society of International Law (ASIL) – a group of foreign and international law librarians usually attend that meeting. IALL's yearly course on international law librarianship is also very worthwhile to attend. Or try to attend the Joint Study Institutes that AALL sponsors every couple of years with ALLA, BIALL, and CALL/ACBD. Network, network, network!

Oh, the places you can go! And the people you can meet! It's great fun (and educational) to attend meetings of other law library associations such as the Canadian Association of Law Libraries, the British & Irish Association of Law Librarians, and the Australian Law Librarians' Association. You can find out when these associations meet by checking the following:

AALL Calendar of Events

IALL International Calendar of Legal Information Events

Potential people resources to contact to jumpstart your FCIL research include your own institution's library and institutional (law school, law firm, court) staff. They might have language skills and bibliographic or substantive knowledge of an FCIL area. Also consider librarians at other law libraries in town, area studies librarians, foreign law graduates (LL.M.s.), etc. You can also contact embassies, consular offices, country desks, related government agencies, Library of Congress foreign law specialists, etc.

Libraries that have strong collections of FCIL material, or collect heavily in a particular FCIL area, usually have people who can help use the collections. See Linda Tashbook’s Foreign Law Collections in U.S. Libraries. The usual suspects – Harvard, Columbia, Yale, Chicago, etc. – have FCIL librarians who can help with any question. But always try to consult your local experts first.

An e-people resource is the INT-LAW group for discussion of foreign, comparative, and international legal research information sources. Anyone can subscribe and ask questions. INT-LAW has over 800 subscribers from all over the world and has been in existence since the early 1990s. INT-LAW was established to help librarians share FCIL information – librarian-to-librarian peer consulting on issues related to foreign, comparative, and international legal materials. INT-LAW is a virtual place where a lot of FCIL librarians and legal information professionals from all over the world hang out. Subscribers also include document and information specialists, law professors, lawyers, students, publishers, vendors, etc. Message archives and subscription form for joining INT-LAW.

INT-LAW is very useful, not only for help with research resources in traditional FCIL areas of interest, but with new hot topics. For instance, back in 2004 when interest in Islamic law sparked, there were several message threads posting related resources on INT-LAW.

Also, similar to the LAW-LIB list which has mostly U.S. law librarians and other information professionals on it, there are lists for UK, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, and South African law librarians that you can subscribe to and ask for help. The International Association of Law Libraries (IALL) has an e-mail discussion list. Some of the lists are established by national and international law library associations. See generally:

People who write research guides or have authored FCIL-related web resources are useful contacts. They have used or reviewed resources on a particular foreign jurisdiction or international law topic. For instance, Marci Hoffman was one of the editors of the Electronic Information System for International Law (EISIL) and also works with the Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals (IFLP). She also has authored some of the pages at that website as well as the ASIL’s Electronic Resource Guide for International Law (ERG). Marci would be a general resource for international law research questions as well as for the specific areas on which she’s written research guides – treaty research, international human rights and international economic law.

The folks who write the research guides published at and GlobaLex are also useful resources. The authors of these guides are law librarians, lawyers, or legal information professionals in the countries they’re writing about or are very knowledgeable about those jurisdictions. They also have language skills and in-depth knowledge about the legal bibliography for those countries, so they can be of major help. So contact the people behind the curtain – the folks behind the wonderful print and electronic FCIL resources.

When do you call on others for an FCIL jumpstart?

Let’s use a specific example. A patron is looking for an English translation of a recent Chinese law. Usually, the use of “recent” and “English translation” in the same sentence is a bad omen. It’s very hard to find English translations generally, let alone for recent legislation.

My approach is to consider first the print and electronic resources on Chinese law available at my own library. Our focus at the University of Chicago D’Angelo Law Library is on West European law, so we would not have many print sources on Chinese law and nothing more specialized in terms of databases than LexisNexis or WESTLAW or free Internet resources. A quick check reveals the CHINALAWINFO database on LexisNexis isn’t up-to-date enough.

Then I consider contacting the East Asian library department at the U of C – area studies libraries are useful as they sometimes contain legal materials for the countries in that region and the librarians have the language skills to help use the collections. Then I look for expertise outside my University to the local Chicago area, and then look regionally and nationally. So I consult local resources first.

The University of Washington’s East Asian Law Library is headed by Bill McCloy. It is one of the best sources outside the Law Library of Congress for legal materials for China, Japan, Korea, etc. For the particular question the patron had, Bill McCloy came through with a resource that did the trick. And it was fast. Information in motion, yeah!

People Who Are Willing to Help You Help Your Users Who Have FCIL Research Questions
The list is organized by Jurisdiction/Region and Topic.  For contact information, check the Appendix, Jumpstarting Your FCIL Research Contacts List (Login with your AALL username and password)

Jurisdictions/Foreign Countries/Regions

Afghanistan -- Omar Sial, Dr. Mohammad Qasim Hashimzai, Sergio Stone  

Africa -- Victor Essien, Shirley Schröder, Nico M Ferreira (especially South Africa), Brian Anderson  

Argentina -- Gloria Orrego Hoyes

Armenia -- Anna Djirdjirian

Australia -- Petal Kinder, Lauren Stephenson (especially Queensland), Ron Huttner,
Ruth Bird

Austria -- Don Ford, Saskia Melhorn, Jennifer Allison    

Belgium -- Montse Adam

Bosnia and Herzegovina -- Mirela Rozajac

Brazil -- Edilenice J. Lima Passos, Jonathan Pratter

Canada -- Neil A. Campbell, Marylin Raisch

Caribbean -- Marisol Floren-Romero

Chile -- Julienne Grant, Sergio Stone

China (PRC) -- Wei Luo, Nongji Zhang, Robert Hu (especially Chinese Intellectual Property Law), Roy L. Sturgeon (especially Chinese Legal History), Rob Britt

Colombia – Gloria Orrego Hoyes

Commonwealth -- Neil A. Campbell

Croatia -- Mirela Rozajac

Denmark -- Suzanne Thorpe

Eastern Europe -- Radu Popa

Egypt -- Darla Jackson

Eritrea -- Dan Wade, Tom French

France -- Stéphane Cottin, Benoit Bréard, Marylin Raisch, Montse Adam, Valerie

Germany -- Silke Sahl, Don Ford, Lyonette Louis-Jacques, Jolande E. Goldberg, Montse Adam, Jennifer Allison, Ryan Harrington, Saskia Mehlhorn   

Hong Kong (British Colony) -- Wei Luo, Roy Sturgeon

Hong Kong (Special Administrative Region, China) -- Wei Luo, Roy Sturgeon

India -- Sunil Rao

Iraq -- Brian Anderson  

Ireland --  Alison Shea   

Italy -- Montse Adam

Japan -- Rob Britt, Wei Luo

Korea – Rob Britt

Latin America -- Jonathan Pratter, Teresa Miguel, Gloria Orrego Hoyes

Macau (China) -- Jorge Godinho

Mexico -- Jonathan Pratter

The Netherlands -- E.R. ( René) Winter

New Zealand -- Margaret Greville

Northern Ireland -- Alison Shea   

Norway -- Suzanne Thorpe

Pakistan -- Omar Sial

Portugal -- Teresa Miguel, Jorge Godinho

Qatar -- Darla Jackson

Romania -- Radu Popa

Russia -- Lucy Cox

Rwanda -- Brian Anderson  

Saudi Arabia -- Darla Jackson

Scandinavia -- Suzanne Thorpe

South Africa -- Holly Bravender, Nico M Ferreira

Spain --Teresa Miguel, Montse Adam

Sweden -- Suzanne Thorpe

Switzerland – Alfredo Santos, Jennifer Allison, Saskia Melhorn  

Taiwan -- Wei Luo

Timor-Leste -- Sergio Stone  

Turkey -- Aslihan Bulut

UK -- Elizabeth Wells, Lesley Dingle, Ruth Bird, Montse Adam, Alison Shea   


Administrative Law -- Brian Anderson  

Anti-Corruption – Saskia Melhorn

Arbitration -- David Merkin, Darla Jackson (international commercial arbitration)

Canon Law -- Lucia Diamond, Don Ford

Collection Development – Dan Wade

Comparative Constitutional Law -- Lyonette Louis-Jacques

Comparative Criminal Procedure -- Lyonette Louis-Jacques

Council of Europe -- Stéphane Cottin

Criminal Law -- Gayle Davies (Australian and international), Andrew Dorchak (international)

Customary Legal Systems -- Susan Gualtier   

Environmental Law and Policy -- Edna Udobong (especially Africa, comparative)

European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) -- Stéphane Cottin, Lesley Dingle, Mary Rumsey

European Legal History -- Lucia Diamond (medieval - 1900)

European Union --Duncan Alford, Marylin Raisch, Margaret Watson (legal aspects), Lesley
Dingle, Montse Adam (especially EU Competition/Antitrust Law, EU State Aid Law, EU Trade Law), Alison Shea, Saskia Melhorn (especially energy and environment),     

Foreign Law -- Marci Hoffman, Mary Rumsey, Darla Jackson, Lenore Glanz, Jean Wenger

Foreign Official Gazettes -- Center for Research Libraries (CRL)

GATT/World Trade Organization --Jeanne Rehberg, Mary Rumsey

Indigenous Peoples Rights -- Steven Perkins, Jolande E. Goldberg

International and Comparative Disability Law -- Wendy Scott, Mary Rumsey

International Competition Law – Alison Shea, Saskia Melhorn

International Commercial Arbitration -- Darla Jackson, Lyonette Louis-Jacques, Saskia Melhorn

International Criminal Law -- Gayle Davies, Andrew Dorchak

International Economic Law -- Marci Hoffman, Mary Rumsey, Marylin Raisch, Lyonette Louis-Jacques, Jean Wenger

International Environmental Law -- Anne Burnett, Edna Udobong, Heidi Frostestad Kuehl

International Family Law -- Marylin Raisch

International Health Law -- Mary Rumsey

International Human Rights -- Marci Hoffman, Mary Rumsey, Nina Cascio, Lyonette Louis-Jacques, James Hart, Darla Jackson

International Humanitarian Law / Law of War -- Darla Jackson, Sergio Stone, Brian Anderson  

International Immigration and Refugee Law -- Wei Luo

International Intellectual Property Law -- Jonathan Franklin (also Foreign IP Law), Sarah Cox

International Investment Law – Ryan Harrington

International Labor Law -- Holly Bravender

International Law -- Mary Rumsey, Lyonette Louis-Jacques, Edna Udobong, Jolande E. Goldberg, Jean Wenger

International Trade Law -- Anna Djirdjirian

Islamic Law Jurisdictions -- Darla Jackson

Law of Non-Profit Organizations -- Edna Udobong

Legal Dictionaries, Bilingual -- Dennis Kim-Prieto

Military Law -- Mike Yared

Money Laundering and Financial Crime -- Jorge Godinho

Religious Law -- Marylin Raisch, Lucia Diamond (especially historical), Jolande E. Goldberg

Roman Law -- Lucia Diamond

Rule of Law -- Brian Anderson  

Sexuality, Gender, and the Law -- Lyonette Louis-Jacques

Treaty Research -- Marci Hoffman, Mary Rumsey, Ryan Harrington, David Bachman  

United Nations -- Susan Kurtas, David Bachman

War Crimes -- Andrew Dorchak

You can get an idea of the depth of help possible by checking Daniel L. Wade, "List of Foreign and International Law Librarians Who Have Expressed a Willingness to Help Non-Experts," FCIL Newsletter, Feb. 1993, at 19-28. The resource is now somewhat out of date, as some of the people listed are no longer around.

In conclusion, people resources can really help you jumpstart your foreign and international research, so start networking today!

Last updated January 2015