What is a treatise? How can I find one?

Suppose you get an assignment on an area of law you really haven’t studied before. The best place to begin is to see if a legal treatise exists on the topic so that you can familiarize yourself with the applicable laws, regulations and cases.

A legal treatise is simply a book that covers one particular area of law at length. Some treatises cover broad topics, such as employment law, while others may focus narrowly on a single statute, like the Americans with Disabilities Act. Some treatises are a single volume, while others consist of multiple volumes devoted to all aspects of the subject. A highlight of a treatise is that it provides in-depth analysis with frequent citations to primary law. Most contain a Table of Cases and Statutes. Some are published in hardbound and reprinted as updates are necessary. Others are a looseleaf publication, which can be updated on a regular basis.

Georgetown Law Library owns and maintains thousands of treatises. Most are located in our stacks and they are all in our Gulliver catalog. We’ve compiled a Treatise Finder to help you identify the most authoritative treatises for over fifty areas of law. Check out the new look of our Treatise Finder where we delineate which treatises are in print and which treatises are available electronically, as an e-book, through Lexis, Westlaw, Bloomberg, CCH or some other online vendor.

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