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Introduction to Legal Research

This guide is an introduction to legal research at the University of Melbourne. This guide is intended for law students in the JD, MLM , Breadth programs who are new to legal research. Students in other disciplines who may need to conduct legal research

Legal Commentaries

Commentaries provide up-to-date authoritative statements of legal principles and topics, supported by and with direct references to case law and legislation. Traditionally, these resources were held in print form and called 'loose-leaf services'. Today, commentaries are found online as full-text services on legal databases such as CCH, Lexis Advance Pacific, and Westlaw. 

To access go to the 'Commentary' page of the Law Library website Research Databases by Type page. Following is a selection of three platforms that include legal commentaries: 

  1. CCH Online
  2. Lexis Advance Pacific
  3. Westlaw AU

CCH Online

Includes commentary on a range of practice areas, with strengths being tax, employment, and family law. Navigate CCH commentary by browsing the A-Z Practice Areas (topics) on the left or search using the search bar (or Advanced Search) to search by topic or keyword. Narrow your results using the filters on the left hand side after an initial search. 

Lexis Advance

To search across all commentary, select Advanced Search from the homepage and select the option Secondary Materials: 

Secondary materials include commentary, journals, bulletins, books, etc.  After you have entered your search terms, you can refine results to view commentary only: 


You can also browse publications by title or topic using the menus on the homepage

Westlaw AU 

Commentary on Westlaw AU is found under the section 'Legislation and Commentary'. Select the icon that looks like a little cross to open the 'Legislation and Commentary' content area or specific commentary titles. 

You can search across all commentary or select specific commentary titles/sections to search across.  You can also browse commentary in the same way that you would a print book. Click on the little cross icons to expand the ‘Legislation and Commentary’ section, and then the desired ‘Practice Area’, until you find the specific subject. Clicking on the subject link takes you to all of the available commentary in that area.