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Washington and Lee University School of Law

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Our Collections

The Law Library seeks to support student and faculty scholarship by maintaining and expanding collections that are both comprehensive and diverse according to a Collection Development Policy.  The Law Library is home to several collections that are designed to enhance the law school experience.  Collections of particular interest are:


Primary Legal Materials

The Law Library provides access to constitutions, judicial decisions, statutes, administrative and regulatory materials and court rules for the federal and state governments.  Access is provided through a combination of resources collected in print, electronic and microform formats.  


Access to a collection of significant periodicals to support the interests of faculty, students and curriculum is provided through a combination of print and electronic resources.  Primary electronic access to periodicals is provided by Bloomberg Law/BNA ,HeinOnline, LexisNexis, and Westlaw.

Secondary Authorities 

Secondary authorities are resources that assist researchers in understanding and finding the law.  Access to treatises, monographs, digests, legal encyclopedias, dictionaries, court records and briefs, and practice guides is provided in print and online. 

Audiovisual Materials

Audiovisual materials are available to serve general research and collection needs such as documentaries and other shows with a legal focus.  The Law Library also collects popular films for casual viewing and are available in the third floor reading room. 

Study Aids

A selection of recently published commercial course outlines, materials written exclusively to assist students in preparing for course or bar examinations, and study aids are accepted by donation.  Hornbooks, materials published as part of the Nutshell series, Sum and Substance, Examples and Explanations, Understanding the Law series, or the like, are also part of this collection.  Study aid materials, including the Nutshell series, hornbooks and other study aids purchased by the library or generously donated by students are available for 48 hour checkout and browsing in the Reserve collection. The collection is located in the Reserve Room near the Circulation Desk.

Continuing Legal Education

Selected continuing legal education materials are available in the law library.  Materials address issues on a national scope, specific to the Commonwealth of Virginia and of on topical importance or faculty or student interests. 


Online access to legal and law-related directories, including congressional, judicial, federal, and administrative directories is provided.   


Past examinations administered at the law school and donated by members of the law faculty are available electronically and in print at the Circulation Desk.  Access is restricted.  Please inquire at the circulation desk.  

Foreign Law

Foreign law resources are available primarily in digital format with a focus on Commonwealth and European law.

International Law

International law resources are available primarily in digital format.   The focus is treaties, international business transactions, international trade, public international law, international organizations, international environmental law, human rights, United Nations Documents, and the law of the European Union. 

Legislative Documents and Legislative Histories

The library provides broad access to federal legislative history materials in multiple formats.


Article level access is broadly provided, principally by online access through subscriptions to multiple databases.  Access to newspapers such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and National Law Journal is selectively provided through a combination of print and digital subscriptions.

The Escape Hatch Collection 

DVDs, videos and books with legal themes or attorneys as characters are available for recreational reading and viewing with a 7 day checkout.  Browse at your leisure, the collection is located in third floor reading room.

Popular Magazines and Newspapers

A collection of current magazines and newspapers may be found on the third floor across from the public computer workstations.  Newspapers and Magazines do not circulate and should be enjoyed in the library and returned to the student lounge.  

U.S. Government Documents

A U.S. government publications depository since 1978, the Law Library holds administrative decisions, agency reports, congressional publications, U.S. Supreme Court records and briefs, state statutes in chronological order, congressional and regulatory sources, and U.N. documents. The bulk of the paper collection of federal documents is in the lower stacks. Microform, and some important paper collections such as current U.S. Code, Federal Register and Congressional Record, are found in the History Room. Paper documents will usually circulate, and Media Services can copy microfiche. Microform readers and printers are available.

Special Collections

The papers of the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell, Jr. form the centerpiece of this unit. Use of the papers requires advance permission of the Powell Archivist.

Among its holdings of other personal papers are those of long-time faculty members Charles V. Laughlin and Wilfred Ritz. The papers of voting rights activist Frank R. Parker, former U.S. Sixth District Representative M. Caldwell Butler, and the late Federal Judge for the Eastern District of Virginia, Walter E. Hoffman, are here as well. Butler's papers include extensive documentation of the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1978 and his service on the Judiciary Committee during the Nixon impeachment proceedings. All of these materials are open for research use.

The archives also hold the record copies of all extant law school publications. Retired records of the School of Law are also housed here.

The rare book collection includes the law library of Judge Charles E. Burks of Lynchburg, VA. Noted alumnus John W. Davis also gave volumes that are now part of this collection.