Zimmerman’s Research Guide

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Zimmerman’s Research Guide

The free online encyclopedia for legal researchers hosted by LexisNexis Legal & Professional’s InfoPro site and created, edited, and updated by Andy Zimmerman-will no longer be available as of Dec. 31, 2015. Zimmerman decided to retire the encyclopedia after more than 15 years. It was first posted on LLRX.com and then moved to LexisNexis in 2003.

The page where Zimmerman’s Research Guide was hosted was easy to use (with a list of all the topics in the home page), allowing legal researchers to search or browse for topics (some topics were jurisdictions, as in the case of U.S. states and European countries). It was arranged by topic and jurisdiction in the sense that the jurisdictions were treated as a topic, in the same list. This online encyclopedia was a good starting point if the researcher were unsure how to begin to research an area of law.

In existence for over ten years, the guide was actually a collection of topical guides. The guide for each subject consisted of a summary accompanied by lists of print and electronic resources, including links to both free internet sources and specific LexisNexis and Westlaw databases

Andrew Zimmerman, a law firm librarian, conceived of the idea for a research guide after he noticed a senior librarian colleague’s “little black book.” She claimed that the binder held over twenty years of tips, resources and her own accumulated wisdom. Zimmerman began his own notebook, which he referred to as his “Reference Guide” and eventually the manual moved to an online format. Zimmerman claims that the guide is both a work-in-progress and a collaborative effort. He freely credited a number of law librarians for their contributions. Furthermore, he frequently edited and updated the guide himself.

Researchers, initially, could access the online resource alphabetically by topic or by entering a keyword. It was later possible to be alerted to changes and additions to the research tool by following the ZRG Blog or by subscribing to its RSS feed. When faced with an unfamiliar topic, the Guide, for some law librarians and researchers, was one of the first sources you should consult.

Over the years, the Guide had expanded to cover a wide range of sources. In the last years, Zimmerman encouraged other librarians to contribute to the Guide, with corrections, additions, and comments.

The Guide was not a how-to website for legal research. Rather, it lists available resources on many different topics – just over one thousand! The entries generally fall into one of three categories: a jurisdiction, including states, foreign countries, and even some cities; a specific resource; or an area of law.

The Guide is now hosted by LexisNexis. Many of the entries include links to government information and other free resources, making this a useful resource for people needing to do research without spending money.

Topics covered by the Guide:

A list of topics covered by the Zimmerman’s Research Guide is available here.

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