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Legal Studies

Gain a better understanding of the field of law and legal studies, which includes both the rules and regulations that govern society (the law) as well as the study of how law shapes and is shaped by political, economic, and cultural forces (legal studies). The two major categories of law are criminal law, which protects society from wrongful actions and involves the criminal justice system, and civil law, which provides an avenue to help resolve noncriminal issues between parties through the court system.

The seminal event in U.S. legal history is the creation of the U.S. Constitution in 1787. This is the foundational legal document on which all other laws are based. Laws can be created at the federal, state, and local level by government bodies. Once passed, these laws are enforced, challenged, or struck down in the court system, with the U.S. Supreme Court being the last court of appeal.

Legal studies shouldn’t be confused with a traditional law school curriculum. While the latter is intended for those who plan to become a lawyer, the former approaches the topic of law with the goal of providing a high-level understanding of the law to people who foresee an intersection between the law and their chosen field. For example, those who plan to work in real estate may take classes on property law and taxes. Legal studies, therefore, can encompass a broad range of topics, including legal writing, contracts, criminal law, constitutional law, property law, civil rights, family law, tax law, juvenile justice, corporate law, copyrights and trademarks, international law, environmental law, ethics, arbitration, and sentencing. Legal studies may also focus on important legal issues, such as abortion, civil rights, gun control, and immigration.

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Legal Studies Topics

Gale provides insights and useful law resources for research supporting legal studies across a variety of topics, including criminal justice, law, and legal issues.

Legal Studies Resources

Gale offers a product portfolio, including law databases, primary sources, and eBooks, designed to support law research.


Gale databases provide researchers with full-text criminal justice articles, peer-reviewed journal articles, and abstracts from must-read legal journals and other secondary sources such as legal encyclopedias. 

Primary Sources

These archives from Gale Primary Sources provide researchers with firsthand journals, including editorials, news, surveys, statistics, and reports.

Gale eBooks

Gale offers a variety of eBooks published to support research. Topics include foreign law, treatises, legislative histories, and more. Users can add Gale eBooks to a customized collection and cross-search to pinpoint relevant content. Workflow tools help users easily share, save, and download materials.

  • Analyzing the Issues: Critical Perspectives on Effective Policing and Police Brutality, 1st Edition

    Analyzing the Issues: Critical Perspectives on Effective Policing and Police Brutality, 1st Edition

    Enslow Publishing | 2018 | ISBN-13: 9780766091641

    One of the most hotly debated subjects in current events is the use of force by police personnel. In recent years, protests have taken place over most of the United States after several high-profile cases in which excessive force during arrests was claimed. This volume examines opinions surrounding police action in the United States and abroad, such as arguments in favor of or against controversial policies such as stop and frisk. Through this wide spectrum of experiences, students are encouraged to reach their own conclusions using the information they have read and synthesized.

  • The Cambridge Companion to Hume’s Treatise, 1st Edition

    The Cambridge Companion to Hume’s Treatise, 1st Edition

    Cambridge University Press | 2015 | ISBN-13: 9781316147108

    Revered for his contributions to empiricism, skepticism, and ethics, David Hume remains one of the most important figures in the history of Western philosophy. His first and broadest work, A Treatise of Human Nature (1739–40), comprises three volumes concerning the understanding, the passions, and morals. He develops a naturalist and empiricist program, illustrating that the mind operates through the association of impressions and ideas. This Companion features essays by leading scholars that evaluate the philosophical content of the arguments in Hume’s Treatise while considering their historical context. The authors examine Hume’s distinctive views on causation, motivation, free will, moral evaluation, and the origins of justice, which continue to influence present-day philosophical debate. This collection will prove a valuable resource for students and scholars exploring Hume, British empiricism, and modern philosophy.

  • The Modern Law of Contract, 10th Edition

    The Modern Law of Contract, 10th Edition

    Routledge, Chapman & Hall Ltd | 2013 | ISBN-13: 9781135084028

    The Modern Law of Contract is a clear and logical introductory textbook written by a leading author and lecturer with over 30 years’ teaching and examining experience. Offering a carefully tailored overview of all key topics for LLB and GDL courses, this 10th edition has been thoroughly updated and presents learning features that will help students. Clearly written and easy to use, The Modern Law of Contract enables undergraduate students of contract law to fully engage with the topic and gain a profound understanding of this fundamental area.

  • The Sage Handbook of Asian Foreign Policy, 1st Edition

    The Sage Handbook of Asian Foreign Policy, 1st Edition

    SAGE | 2019 | ISBN-13: 9781526455581

    Comprising 60.3 percent of the world’s 7.2 billion population, Asia is an enigma to many in the West. Hugely dynamic in its demographic, economic, technological, and financial development, its changes are as rapid as they are diverse. The SAGE Handbook of Asian Foreign Policy provides the reader with a clear, balanced, and comprehensive overview of Asia’s foreign law and accompanying theoretical trends. Placing the diverse and dynamic substance of Asia’s international relations first and bringing together an authoritative assembly of contributors from across the world, this is a reliable introduction to non-Western intellectual traditions in Asia.

  • Today’s Foreign Policy Issues: Democrats and Republicans, 1st Edition

    Today’s Foreign Policy Issues: Democrats and Republicans, 1st Edition

    ABC-CLIO | 2017 | ISBN-13: 9781440843679

    Examines the perspectives of Democrats and Republicans on dozens of major foreign law policy issues of the 21st century, illuminating both areas of consensus and issues where partisan divisions are wide.

  • U.S. Government: The Separation of Powers: The Legislative Branch of the Federal Government: Purpose, Process, and People, 1st Edition

    U.S. Government: The Separation of Powers: The Legislative Branch of the Federal Government: Purpose, Process, and People, 1st Edition

    Britannica Digital Learning | 2010 | ISBN-13: 9781615300679

    The legislative branch, created by Article I of the Constitution, is comprised of the House of Representatives and the Senate, which together form the United States Congress. This book not only studies the legislative histories and the organization of both houses of Congress but also examines the legislative process and how a bill ultimately can become a law. This book gives readers a detailed look at how their government really works to both create and pass lasting legislation.

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