Westlaw Canada's LawSource: Making A Case

March 12, 2012 | Richard

Comments (4)


SERVICE UPDATE: Please note that in 2021, we stopped our subscription to LawSource and can no longer provide access to this resource online or in our branches. We apologize for any inconvenience.


The decisions of judges pertaining to particular matters brought before the courts create legal precedents and contribute to defining common law. Such legal precedents appear in case law and are published in law reports. LawSource, by Westlaw Canada, is an excellent source of Canadian case law and legal precedent . . . and LawSource offers other information - more on that in a moment.

Of course there is a caveat: for a non lawyer, conducting legal research into cases can be intimidating. To state the obvious . . . not having a background in legal terminology, principles, actions, procedures, and history, will be a barrier to understanding. Still it seems natural for anyone involved in a legal matter, to want to find out as much as possible on the subject before talking to a lawyer, or especially, if representing themselves.

So what then, is the best way to proceed? There are two dedicated computers within TPL that offer LawSource through IP authenticated electronic subscriptions: one is at the Toronto Reference Library in the Humanities and Social Sciences Department, and the other is at North York Central in the Business Department. Note: there is no remote access to LawSource through Library systems. LawSource is only at these two workstations and is offerred on a first come first serve basis - there are no signup sheets.

You may seek reference assistance from staff - for example, in formulating a search strategy - but staff do not have legal training and are not qualified to answer any questions that involve the interpretation of legal points or to evaluate and results from your searches.

The main components of LawSource include:

  1. Legislation - Statutes and Regulations (Federal and Provincial)
  2. Case Law (From Carswell and non-Carswell reporting services)
  3. Canadian Abridgement Case Law Digests
  4. Other decisions from Canadian courts and tribunals
  5. Canadian Encyclopedic Digest - with 255 subject titles on aspects of Canadian Law
  6. Law Report Articles and Journals and Law Reviews
  7. KeyCiteCanada updates cases, statutes, and rules
  8. Index to Canadian Legal Literature - a Canadian legal bibliography

For a detailed list of contents, click here.

Searching for the first time can be a bit challenging, so LawSource offers a wide range of educational resources on online at eLearning Centre that can help.  You may need some patience to learn how to search and know how the content is organized in order to be rewarded with optimal results. With this in mind, it would make sense to view some above tutorials even before coming to the library.

We would be interested in knowing if and how LawSource has helped you in the past and/or present . . . please leave a comment at this post . . . Thank you.


Update statement added on May 26, 2022.