Learning More About the Law

Contributed by Hannah Lee and current to March 2022

You can find out about the law from a variety of resources, including libraries, law reports, legislation and popular culture.

Law Libraries in the ACT

Supreme Court of the ACT - Russell Fox Library

The Russell Fox Library collection consists of judgments, legislation, law reports, textbooks and periodicals relevant to ACT court proceedings. If you wish to borrow books, you will need to become an approved user.

General Enquiries Tel: (02) 6207 1805
Email: russellfoxlibrary@act.gov.au
Website: https://www.courts.act.gov.au/supreme/services/russell_fox_library

The Australian National University Law Library

The Australian National University has a Law Library. The entire ANU library catalogue is available free online. It contains legislation and case law materials from Australia, the UK, the U.S., Canada and New Zealand. If you are a member of the public, you will need to arrange use of this library at the front desk.

Tel: (02) 6125 4013
Email: law.library@anu.edu.au
Website: https://anulib.anu.edu.au/using-library/branches/law-library

University of Canberra Library

The University of Canberra Library is in Bruce. You can search the online catalogue and visit the library. If you wish to borrow a book, you will need to apply for an external library membership.

Tel: (02) 6201 2953
Email: loans@canberra.edu.au
Website: http://www.canberra.edu.au/library

The Federal Court of Australia Digital Law Library

The Federal Court of Australia maintains a digital law library, which holds judgments, speeches and annual reports. There is also a Native Title Infobase. Unfortunately, you cannot borrow items from this library.

Tel (All enquiries): 1300 720 980
Email: query@fedcourt.gov.au
Website: http://www.fedcourt.gov.au/digital-law-library

Australian Institute of Criminology

The J V Barry Library has a collection focused on criminology, the social sciences, policing, corrections, and criminal justice. If you would like to visit this library, you will need to submit a request to the Library Manager.

Tel: (02) 6260 9200
Email front.desk@aic.com.au
Website: https://aic.gov.au/

Other libraries

Civic Library

Civil Library is operated by the ACT government for members of the public. It has a collection of law-related resources. Anyone can borrow from this library.
Tel: +61 2 6205 9000
Email: library.customerinfo@act.gov.au
Website: https://www.library.act.gov.au

National Library of Australia (NLA)

The NLA has a vast collection of law-related resources, including historical government gazettes. Anyone with a NLA library card also has access to its extensive online database, Trove. Joining the NLA is free.
Tel: (02) 6262 1111
Website: https://www.nla.gov.au/

Law Reports and Legislation

Law reports are published records of important court cases. Law reports cover a variety of cases, with each series reporting the decisions made by one specific court, in one state or country.

Most law reports are available online through Court websites, Austlii, Lexisnexis and Westlaw or in hard copy.


Acts and Regulations are available online. You can view Federal Acts at the Federal Register of Legislation. ACT Acts and regulations are available at the ACT Legislation Register.

Acts and Regulations from anywhere in Australia, together with helpful secondary materials, can be found on Austlii.

Popular culture

Learning about the law can, at times, be both uninteresting and complex. Luckily, the law features heavily in popular culture. Popular culture can tell you things about the law which conventional sources cannot. The following works may be of interest:

The Castle

This Australian film chronicles one family’s fight all the way the High Court. It centres on the Commonwealth powers in section 51(xxxi) of the Australian Constitution and ‘the vibe’, of the Constitution.


Rake (2010- 2018) is a television comedy series inspired by Sydney criminal defence barrister Charles Waterstreet. It has won critical acclaim for its scathing depiction of law, politics and the media in Australia.

Death Note

Death Note (2003-2006) a Japanese manga series, which is now the subject of multiple games, anime series and films. The story raises serious questions of morality and justice, when a self-righteous law student obtains the power to kill anyone whose name he writes down in a notebook.

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